So you want to plant your own fresh basil, we’ve got you covered. Fresh basil is a beautiful addition to any garden. Basil plants thrive in pots, indoors, in greenhouses, raised beds, and even when sown directly into the ground.
Sweet basil is commonly used in cooking and smells lovely. Some varieties, such as purple basil, are an excellent addition to the flower garden for their beautiful foliage.
But where do you even start? How many seeds should you plant? If you’ve begun to plant basil and wonder, “Am I doing this right?” then this article is for you!
How Many Seeds Should I Plant Per Hole?
Quick Answer: Most basil has a low germination rate of about sixty percent. This means that not every seed you plant will sprout and grow. For best results, you will want to plant 2-3 seeds in every hole outdoors or 4-6 in a pot if you’re starting indoors.
Once the plants sprout, you can thin them if multiple plants grow from the same hole. Wait until the basil plants are at least five weeks old and have their first set of true leaves before thinning or transplanting. When you thin the basil plants out, you can replant the pulled plants in new holes, eat them as microgreens, or toss them directly into your compost bin.
Many growers prefer to start their basil inside then transplant it to their garden. If this is what you choose to do, plant four to six seeds per pot.
Make sure your basil is in a sunny spot, especially when trying to start the seeds. You’ll also need to make sure the soil is kept moist. If you are planting in trays, try bottom watering; this can help prevent overwatering.
If planting in the ground, you’ll still plant multiple seeds per hole, about two to three plants per hole.
When watering, try to water at the bottom of the plant rather than pouring it over the leaves once they sprout. This will protect your seedlings from mold or mildew as well as scorching and potential infections. It’s also essential to allow air to get to your seedlings if you are planting them indoors. While many growers cover their seeds initially, you’ll want to remove the covers to allow some air circulation around your plants after they sprout their first true leaves.
You can also have a fan blowing on them at a low speed a few hours at a time to give them some fresh air. Of course, if you’re planting outdoors, mother nature will take care of that for you.
How Many Basil Seeds Equal an Inch?
For each inch of soil, you will need 2-3 seeds of basil planted. Because of its low germination rate, not every seed will sprout and grow into a mature plant.
Once the seeds sprout and have their second or third set of leaves, you can transplant them if they are too close together. It’s important not to plant more seeds than recommended and to pay close attention to your plants as they begin to sprout.
Space the plants out by twelve to sixteen inches. This is the optimal spacing for mature basil plants to grow and thrive.
What Happens if I Plant Too Many Seeds?
If you plant too many seeds, you may have several sprouts in a small area. All you need to do is pull a few of the plants and replant, eat, or destroy them. They can choke each other out and lack nutrients to develop and produce properly. Being too close to one another can also cause poor air ventilation, which leads to disease.
Competing for Resources
When plants are too close together, they have to compete for resources.
There may not be enough to go around; they compete for water, nutrients in the soil, and sun. While one plant may do well while the other fails, both plants could die if there are not enough resources for them both.
As if the lacking nutrients isn’t bad enough, the competition will stress the plants out too. A stressed plant doesn’t produce high-quality basil leaves, will not make the leaves for long, and may bolt (flower, seed, and then die) quicker than it should have.
Increased Spread of Infections, Diseases, and Pests
Another risk when planting seeds too close together is the spread of infections and pests. While all plants have some risk of infection or pests such as slugs or aphids, when plants are too close together, it’s much easier for these to travel from plant to plant. It also reduces the air that can circulate around your plants, leading to mold and mildew.
It’s best to thin the plans if you notice that there are too many too close together.
Basil grows best when there are four to eight inches between them as adolescents and twelve to eighteen inches between them as fully developed plants. After your plants start growing, if you see multiple sprouts in the same small area, you can move one of the sprouts to its own space away from other shoots.
This will allow the plant the necessary resources for it to grow and free up the area around the original plant for it to mature. Most growers will move the smaller of the two plants and leave the larger one in its original spot.
Basil, like many herbs, is a relatively easy plant to grow; they are an excellent introductory plant for the brand new gardener.
With a bit of love and some strategic gardening skills, you’ll have fresh basil to add to your favorite dishes in no time.
Read more of our basil articles below to learn more about this lovely herb.