How To Grow Basil
With this super-easy guide, you’ll learn how to grow basil, propagate it, chop it, freeze it, and more. It’s so simple, and unlimited fresh herbs are just a few cuttings away.
Basil is a common herb that can easily be propagated, as I’ll show you in this post. The basil will take root, grow greener leaves, and produce more foliage to flavor your favorite dishes – all without much effort on your part. Basil is one of the many members of the Mint family, and is one of those plants that grows almost anywhere, and needs minimal care. It was the very first herb I ever planted, and has been the star of my herb garden ever since. In this post, you’ll also learn how to use, chop, freeze, and get the most out of your basil plants.
How To Grow Basil In A Container
Basil is a must-have for any herb garden, and if you are a beginner, it’s the perfect herb to start with. Basil can be grown inside or outside, and requires no special attention. Basil plants are readily available during the growing season, and can be found year-round in the produce section of grocery stores.
Just follow these tips and you’ll be able to grow your own basil right in your own backyard.
- Use large containers or pots with good drainage holes, and fertilized potting soil. Or if you prefer, use regular potting soil and add liquid fertilizer.
- Don’t place basil plants outside until after the last frost.
- Place the container where it gets at least 6 hours of full sun per day.
- Water the growing basil regularly so the soil has plenty of moisture.
- Basil is a plant that benefits from being “pinched back” – you can see a visual of what that means in the photo above. By pruning the leaves on a regular basis, and using the pinch method, your plants will grow wide and thick, instead of tall and spindly.
- Watch out for aphids, Japanese beetles, pests, and other insects because they love the newest and most tender leaves.
- If you prefer to plant basil in the ground, make sure it has plenty of sunlight, well-drained soil, a layer of compost, followed by a layer of mulch.
By following these simple tips, you will soon harvest basil with fresh and lovely leaves, perfect for cooking and preserving.
Best Types of Basil To Grow
- Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum)
- Licorice or Thai basil
- Lemon basil
- Genovese basil
- Greek basil
- Holy basil
- Red Rubin basil
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How to Propagate Basil
Once you have mastered growing basil, it’s time to start propagating basil…and it’s actually much easier than it sounds…but what does it mean?
Propagating can be done with all basil varieties, and it’s simply the natural process that produces new plants from parent plants.
- With your garden scissors in hand, harvest several fresh basil stems, making sure to cut low on the plant.
- Snip each stem at an angle just under the lowest set of leaf nodes. Trim the leaves so you have a bare stem. Edited: you don’t have to trim the entire stem of basil leaves. It’s perfectly fine to leave some leaves at the top.
- Place the snipped basil stems in jars of fresh water. It helps to change the water every few days, but I occasionally forget, and the roots still grow just fine.
- Roots will grow out of the stems in about two weeks.
- Plant the basil seedlings in small pots with fresh potting soil, and water well. You want moist soil.
- When the basil cuttings are growing well, you can transplant them into bigger pots.
This is a great way to get extra basil plants to give as gifts, or to use for an indoor herb garden when the cold weather arrives. Basil is delicious in pesto, salads, sauces, and more. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use basil.
Recipes With Basil
- Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes
- The Best Grilled Chicken
- Homemade Butter with Herbs + Fruit
- French Bread Pizza
How to Chop Basil
Chopping basil is simple and quick. Take a look at the video player, and you’ll see how to chiffonade basil in a way that will keep the basil leaves from getting bruised. The secret to chopping basil successfully is to pass the knife through the leaves only once. The up and down of a regular chopping motion will bruise the leaves and turn them dark. By stacking, rolling and slicing the basil leaves, you end up with lovely slivers of fresh, chopped basil.
How to Freeze Basil
If you aren’t growing basil in an indoor garden, harvesting it from a summer outdoor garden, and then preserving, is the next best thing. Freezing basil is a great way to have it on hand for cooking any time of the year.
What You Need
- Ice cube tray
- Olive Oil
- Basil leaves
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife or herb scissors
- Freezer containers
Steps For Freezing
- Harvest your basil.
- Chiffonade or cut with scissors.
- Fill the sections of an ice cube tray with the sliced basil.
- When all the bays of your ice cube tray are filled with basil, drizzle olive oil into each bay almost to the rim.
- Freeze for 8 hours.
- Pop the frozen olive oil/basil cubes out of the tray, and place them in a resealable freezer bag or freezer-safe container.
- The basil cubes will last in the freezer for up to 6 months.
By freezing the basil in olive oil, it is so easy to grab a couple of cubes and saute with your favorite vegetables. Use them to make pasta dishes and any sort of pasta sauce. They also make great starters for soups and stews.
How to Dry Basil
The best way to dry basil is in the oven. See my full tutorial on drying herbs in the oven.
Frequently Asked Questions
Caring for basil is pretty simple, but it can still be slightly daunting at first. Here are some answers to questions people have asked.
Can you grow basil from cuttings?
Yes, you can grow all-new basil plants by cutting stems off of other basil plants. That’s the very definition of propagating. You don’t have to go through the strenuous effort of trying to grow basil from seed. One basil plant can give you many new ones.
How do you propagate basil from stems?
Just follow my tips outlined above. I believe my step-by-step photos and detailed instructions will give you the confidence to propagate your own basil in your kitchen.
Can you propagate basil using basil plants from the grocery store?
Yes, the basil plants at the grocery store are the same kind you would buy from a greenhouse. You can certainly use them to propagate more basil plants in your kitchen. It will work just fine!