Basil is perhaps one of the world’s most popular herbs and is a known element in both the kitchen and in culinary gardens alike. Originally, from Southeast Asia, thanks to this herb’s versatility and flavor it has become a staple in kitchens all over the globe.
It is easy to get in stores, either fresh or dried, but a great many people prefer to grow it themselves.
While having ready basil seems nice, and it is quite easy to grow, maintaining the plant is somewhat of a challenge. This is due to this plant being very particular about how much water it needs, too much or too little water and the plant will die.
With this problem persisting to perplex gardens and herb enthusiasts alike, we decided that an article needed to be done informing everyone of the answer to how often you should water your basil.
If you are here only for the answer and have no use for additional information, then fret not, for here it is: it depends, but generally you should water every 3 to 4 days, enough to keep the soil moist, but not enough to drown the plant.
However, this is subject to many factors, with the most pressing being the ambient temperature of the area the plant is in. If it is very hot, it’ll need watering more frequently.
Other factors include where it’s planted, pot or garden, direct sunlight, weather and climate variations, all this means you need to keep an eye on your basil to make sure it is thriving.
If you are looking for a bit more information, we will explore three scenarios that are based around how most people keep their basil:
Placing basil in a pot can create the perfect condition for the plant to grow. Its need for constantly moist soil can be filled easily, as water won’t easily seep away, and it has a good drainage system for water to leave via the bottom of the pot for plants that have been overwatered.
Thanks to this, you should only need to water your basil every 4 days.
The problem with potted basil is drying out. With the pot being enclosed, and the basil needing direct sunlight to create a perfect growing environment, the soil can become very dry and will make your basil droop.
Luckily, with a pot your basil can be monitored perfectly, and mistakes can be rectified easily. To do this, take a finger and push it a little way into the pot’s soil. Your finger only needs to go only a centimeter or so into the soil. From there, you can feel whether the soil is moist or dry. If the soil is dry now is the time to water your basil. Another trick might be to use bigger pots, as they retain more water and are less likely to dry out.
The basil in a garden will have different factors affecting it than the basil in a pot. Some of these are advantageous, while others make your job more difficult.
Depending on your soil quality and the ambient temperature of your garden, you should only need to water garden basil once a week or, on particularly hot weeks, twice a week. This is due to it having a broader area to draw moisture from and, should it be planted in good quality soil, its water retention is likely to be much higher.
However, continuing to monitor your basil is key. You may find that it thrived at first but is struggling now, or it needs more pruning than usual. If this is the case, check the soil’s moisture with your finger and check the soil type more carefully.
If it has been planted in soil draining soil, give it less water. If it has been planted in fast draining water, give it more water. If all else fails, consider adding more compost or moving the basil to another part of the garden.
Indoor basil has the added benefits of the potted basil, with a few extra benefits and drawbacks to it. Firstly, you will need to find a good spot to place the basil in direct sunlight. I find the best place for this is a windowsill in a room that faces the sun for a significant part of the day – mine is the kitchen.
The second important thing about indoor basil is the drainage holes. For the potted outdoor basil, this was simple, as it would drain from the holes into the ground outside. Not so with indoor basil for if you let it drain as it likes, you’ll end up with a mud slurry mixture seeping from the plant, down the sill, and onto the carpet.
The best thing to do is to place the plant on a plate or tray, then when the plate begins to get waterlogged, take the whole thing and drain the excess in the sink. Once done, wipe the whole thing down with a towel or tissue, and it’s ready to go back to the windowsill.
The last thing to be aware of is the ambient temperature of your home. This will affect how much you water the basil and generally its placement. If you do a lot of cooking and the kitchen remains hot throughout the day, you may need to water it more often or move it to a less hot room.
For most indoor basil, you only need to water them every 5 days, however for particularly hot homes you may need to increase this to every 3 days. If you can manage it in your home, I would suggest keeping the basil in larger containers.
As before, this means the basil is less likely to dry out or be overwatered thanks to the large surface area.
Although basil is a wonderful, fresh, and aromatic herb that delights the taste buds, making it grow well is tricky and, sometimes, downright infuriating due to its fickle nature. However, with vigilance and constant monitoring, you should be able to grow as much basil as you want in your garden.