Basil is a warm weather annual herb native to tropical regions in central Africa and Southeast Asia. Some varieties can be perennial where frost does not occur.
Basil grows in warm weather, preferring temperatures at least over 65 degrees. It requires six hours of sun, but it may prefer filtered light and/or afternoon shade in the hottest microclimates . Wait to plant or seed basil in your garden until your soil is around 70 degrees.
For direct sowing, plant seeds about 1/4" deep and 10-12" apart. For transplants, space 10-12" apart.
Basil can grow to 1-2' feet tall, depending on variety.
Basil comes in many different varieties and colors. Different varieties contain various compounds resulting in distinct flavors. Genovese, or sweet basil, is the variety most are familiar with. A few of our favorite varieties are: 'Red Robin' , Tulsi Holy Basil (great for tea!), Thai Basil and Lemon Basil.
Harvesting & Pruning
The trick to growing a bushy abundant basil plant is to harvest often and prune off flowers.
To harvest basil: pinch off the top few leaves at the growing ends of each stem of the plant. Pinch off the leaves at the stem right above where a pair of leaves are growing. By removing the leaves and stems, you are stimulating side shoots to grow and bush out.
If your classic green basil plant (Genovese and/or sweet basil) is flowering (bolting), you can remove the flowers. Flowering can change the taste and production of your basil plant (slower growth), but the flowers will attract pollinators to your garden. Don't forget the flowers are edible and great in garden bouquets.
Some basil plants are meant to flower (African Blue and Thai to name a couple), so please be sure to check what type of basil plant you have before removing the beautiful flowers. We suggest pruning off flowers on all varieties until the plant is roughly 6 inches tall.