Bonnie Plants Sweet Basil is known worldwide for wonderful fragrance and flavor. The key ingredient in classic Italian pesto, pasta sauce (sugo) and caprese salad, Sweet Basil has big leaves that are fast and easy to grow so that you can make your own pesto to freeze for year-round use. It loves hot weather, so always wait until all danger of frost is past before planting in the garden in the spring, then harvest before the weather starts to cool down in fall. Great for containers, but be sure to keep watered. If you were to grow only one herb, this should probably be it. Dried basil just doesn’t have the aromatic quality of the fresh leaves, which are often added at the last minute to many Asian dishes.
Organic varieties are only available at retailers.
Type warm season annual
Planting time after last spring frost
Features large, aromatic leaves
Light full sun
Soil fertile, well drained but moist
Spacing 18 inches
Plant size 24 to 30 inches tall, 18 inches wide
Garden use containers, herb beds, flower beds
Culinary use Asian and Italian dishes
A woody, branching plant, basil is a warm-weather annual that grows very fast in 80- to 90-degree weather. When growing basil, note that two or three plants will yield plenty of fresh leaves for a family of four — unless you plan to make pesto. (To make and freeze a winter’s supply of pesto, plant a dozen or more.) Many gardeners mix various types of basil in their flower beds, where it is ready for a quick harvest anytime. It is also great for containers.
Quick Guide to Growing Basil
Plant basil 2 weeks after the last spring frost. This flavorful herb is perfect for raised garden beds, containers, and in-ground gardens.
Space basil according to label recommendations, usually 12 to 18 inches apart. Grow in fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Consider a premium bagged potting mix for growing in containers.
Give your garden a great foundation by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter into your native soil.
Basil thrives in moist soil, so check moisture levels often and water deeply once the top inch becomes dry.
As basil plants grow to 4 to 6 inches tall, pinch off the topmost branches to promote more side shoots and a taller plant overall. Be sure to pinch off blooms to prevent your plant from going to seed.
Encourage excellent leaf production by keeping basil fed with a water-soluble plant food.
Once basil grows to 6 to 8 inches, harvest leaves anytime by pinching them off.