How to grow
- Type: Summer annual
- Light: Full sun; late afternoon shade is okay
- Soil: Well amended soil, good drainage
- Water: Needs regular watering, likes moist soil. Mulch soil to retain moisture
- Size: 8–24" high, 8–12" wide, depending on variety
When to plant/propagate
Basil leaves are tender and are damaged by temperatures below 40°F. Wait until weather is thoroughly warm before planting outdoors.
- From seed: Sow seeds indoors six weeks prior to transplant, March–May. Not usually seeded directly in the garden.
- Transplants: Plant seedlings April-June when soil is well warmed and danger of frost is past.
- Cuttings: Basil can be rooted from cuttings. In particular, African Blue Basil does not produce viable seeds, so must be propagated by cuttings taken in the late summer and overwintered in a warm location.
- For tender leaves, harvest frequently to encourage new growth and to prevent flowers from developing. Pinch off any flowers that do develop.
- For seeds or for attracting beneficial insects, allow flowers to develop.
- Basil can be grown as an indoor plant in a south-facing window with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight or fluorescent lights 6 inches above the plants for 14 to 16 hours a day
- Harvesting can begin in about 4-5 weeks
Common pests & diseases
Recommended Varieties for Santa Clara County*
See our list of Spring Garden Fair Herbs for varieties that we have found perform well here.
*Many other varieties may also do well here in Santa Clara County. This list is based on UC Master Gardener trials, taste tests, and feedback from local growers.