Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a popular herb native to southern Asia and the South Pacific Islands. These tender annuals are members of the mint family and produce aromatic leaves commonly used in Mediterranean and Italian foods.
Basil seeds can be started in pots indoors for a headstart on the growing season. Your basil plants should be ready for their first harvest in a month or so.
How Fast Does Basil Grow?
If you plant basil from seed, it will takes 50 to 60 days to grow, with some varieties being ready to harvest in as little as a month. For hydroponic planting, it can grow up to 40-50 percent faster ( about 28 days under optimal conditions) than plants grown in soil. They can also produce around 30 percent more than plants grown in the dirt.
How Long Does Basil Take to Grow From Seed?
Basil only takes 50 to 60 days to grow from seed, with some varieties being ready to harvest in as little as a month. Keep in mind that plants grow better in the right conditions; moist soil, 6 to 8 hours of full sun, vital nutrients, and a consistent temperature of about 70℉.
Why Is My Basil Growing So Slow?
Basil doesn’t like drastic adjustments or changes. For instance, changing the temperature too frequently can cause your plant to not sprout or grow lively leaves.
There are various reasons your basil plant is growing slowly, including malnourished soil, drainage issues, and over-or underwatering the plants.
Mold & Fungal Issues
Most species of fungi thrive in the same moisture-rich soil environment as basil. Fungus and mildew, like Basil Downey Mildew, can devastate your plants and crops.
This common issue prevents basil’s roots from growing at a fast pace. Root rot causes a plant’s roots to decay and decompose before they have a chance to absorb enough water, and the result is a plant that dies in a matter of weeks or even days in severe conditions.
Overwatering plants can cause various problems, including stunted or slow growth. Watering our plants can become a habit, but it’s better to get into the habit of checking the first couple of inches of soil to make sure it needs water.
Basil prefers to have a consistently moist bed of soil. Underwatering basil will slow its growth for two reasons: the plant isn’t getting enough water, and can’t absorb any nutrients.
Soil Temperature Isn’t Right
Basil seeds germinate best with soil temperatures between 75-85℉ (24-29℃). If temperatures rise or drop too low, your plants will stop growing. When transplanting your basil outdoors, the soil in the ground should be at least 50℉ (10℃), but preferably closer to 60℉ (15℃).
How Do You Speed Up Basil Growth?
I know watching plants grow is like watching paint dry, don’t do it! Several ways to speed up basil growth include standard essential care, like watering and providing essential nutrients.
Keeping Basil Warm
Basil prefers a consistent and balanced living space. Keeping the soil and room temperatures closer to 70℉ (21℃) is one of the key elements for helping your basil grow faster.
Keep your basil plants near a window in the sunlight for warmth. Avoid drafty windows during the cooler months, and keep your basil away from air conditioners blowing cold air during the summer.
When growing basil indoors, choose planters with suitable drainage holes. If the pots you have on hand don’t have enough holes, you could drill some depending on the material and line the bottom of the pot with an inch or two of gravel.
Choose an outdoor site in the sun that has well-draining soil. You can test how well your soil drains by digging a 12” by 12” inch hole, filling the hole with water, and allowing it to drain.
Refill the hole with water in about 12 hours, and time how long it takes to drain. If you have well-draining soil, it should be completely drained in 2-3 hours.
No worries if your soil doesn’t drain well because there are ways to improve it.
We know basil likes well-drained soil; it is essential that the soil remains moist.
Maintaining an even moisture level without overwatering your plant can be a fine line. Feel your plant’s soil before watering; dig down 2 to 3 inches, and if the soil is moist, don’t water it.
Container basil requires frequent watering because the soil dries faster than outdoors in the ground. Mulching around outdoor and indoor plants is an excellent way for them to retain moisture.
Water The Soil, NOT The Basil Leaves
Plants absorb water better through their roots than their leaves. While the leaves can absorb some water, it’s less efficient and makes the plant work harder.
If you want to improve your basil growth, give your plants a slow, deep soak by watering the base of the plant.
Plant your basil in a sunny location that gets six to eight hours of sunlight a day. When growing basil indoors, position the containers on sunny windowsills with sufficient light shining in.
Feed & Fertilize
All plants benefit from nutrient boosts! Feeding your indoor basil plants an organic fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks and every 2 to 3 weeks for outdoor plants provides growth-boosting benefits.
Well-balanced fertilizer should contain equal amounts of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphate can increase your plant’s leaf production.
Harvest Basil Early & Often
Harvesting and pruning are essential the same thing with herbs.
Harvest your basil early, and continue harvesting every couple of weeks throughout the season. When you notice flower buds starting to form on mature plants, it’s time to prune them; if you don’t, the plant uses all of its creating seeds rather than growing more basil.
When plants flower, it changes the flavor of the end product. If you notice buds forming, pinch the heads off, they’re edible too.
*Quick Harvesting Tip- Only harvest 20 percent of your basil at a time. Leaving enough foliage on the plants enables them to grow faster.
Prune For Bushy Basil
Pruning is one of the critical elements to getting basil to grow big and bushy. Proper pruning encourages healthy and fast growth.
How Fast Does Basil Grow After Pruning?
Basil is a fast-growing plant; it only takes a few weeks for a pruned plant to be ready for another harvest.
Harvesting basil can start as soon as your plants have at least six sets of leaves. Once the initial harvest occurs, you can harvest the leaves as often as needed while being mindful to only harvest up to 20 percent of the plant.
If you’re looking for peak flavor, it’s best to allow the basil to grow six pairs of leaves to a branch.*Growing Tip: Don’t allow your basil plant to grow more than four sets of leaves; you can harvest them about every three weeks. You can also pick a few leaves at a time throughout the season.
How Much Does a Basil Plant Grow in a Week?
Six basil plants can produce around 2 to 3 cups of the leaf a week, which averages to about half a cup of basil per plant each week.
Sweet basil plants can grow up to 6 feet tall but typically grows between 1.5-feet to 2 feet tall and wide from proper pruning.
How Long Does Basil Take to Grow Hydroponically?
Basil takes approximately 28 days (under optimal conditions) to grow in hydroponic systems. It’s a popular crop choice for both container and hydroponic growing because of the plant’s high values, ease of production, and fast-growing time.
Plants grown hydroponically can grow up to 40-50 percent faster than plants grown in soil. They can also produce around 30 percent more than plants grown in the dirt.
Some Great Ways to Grow Basil for Fast Harvest
Growing basil plants from seed take time, but there are a few ways to improve their growth rate.
- In colder growing zones, like zones 2 to 6, you can give your basil plants a six to eight-week headstart by growing them indoors underneath growing lights. Seedlings are hardened off before being transplanted into the garden in late spring.
- Basil can be grown from cuttings year-round; if you grow basil from cuttings, it will cut the growth time by nearly half. It’ll take a few weeks for the cutting to root, but once they emerge, the plants will quickly begin pushing out new growth to harvest.
- We’ve already discussed how moist, well-drained soil improves basil’s growth, but ensuring the soil has a pH of 6 to 7 will allow the plant to grow faster. Test your soil and adjust it with organic fertilizer as needed.
Does Basil Grow Better Indoors or Outdoors?
Basil is a beautiful hardy herb that grows exceptionally well indoors and outdoors. As long as your basil plants have sufficient sunlight, moisture, and nutrients, they can thrive anywhere.
I prefer to grow in containers inside (mainly because I love live plants in the house) and in the garden outside.
Does Basil Grow Better in Pots or In The Ground?
Some varieties of basil, like Greek Column-Lesbos can grow up to 3 feet high. That being said, larger basil varieties grow better planted in the ground, while miniature varieties grow better in containers.
Does Basil Grow Better in Water or Soil?
Basil grows well in both water and soil. However, when plants are grown in water or hydroponically, the roots have free-reign to water and nutrients.
With more focus on growing strong and healthy, the plants naturally grow faster and seemingly better than when constantly searching for food and water.
Basil is a hardy, fast-growing herb that’s easy to maintain and worth the effort.