When to Plant Basil? (EXPLAINED)

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when to plant basil

Growing basil is a practice for millions of people around the world. Whether grown in the garden, outside in containers or inside in pots, growing basil is a rewarding activity.

Fresh basil is a healthy and tasty ingredient that can be added to a plethora of recipes for main dishes, side dishes, and beverages.

But, if you’re growing it for the first time, how do you know when to plant it?

Read on below and discover exactly when to plant basil and much more!

When to Plant Basil?

basil seedling

Depending on where you live, and whether you plan to plant your basil indoors or outdoors, the best time to plant basil varies.

As a general rule of thumb, it is best to wait at least two weeks after the last frost of the late winter/early spring. If the soil temperature is at least 50°F the weather is warm enough for planting basil.

If planting basil outside, make sure to place the plants in a location that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sun per day.

Outdoors in the Ground

The best time to plant basil outdoors in the ground is typically mid to late spring. However, you may wait all the way up until late summer or early fall if you don’t need to harvest much of the herb. Basil grows for around 3 to 5 months outside in the ground.

Outdoors in Containers

Like basil that is planted outdoors in the ground, basil planted outside in containers is also best planted during the spring. But, if you don’t need a large or extended harvest, basil plants can be planted outdoors in containers as late as summer or early fall. In containers, outside, basil plants tend to last between approximately 3 and 5 months.

Inside in Containers

basil in kitchen window

Indoors, with the right environment, including light, temperature, and water, basil plants in containers can be planted all year long. However, if you are relying on natural light (and sitting your plants in the window), it is better to start your basil plants in the spring or summer. Inside, basil can live for as much as 6 months.

Can You Plant Basil Anytime?

Basil can be planted just about anytime. However, if you don’t start basil at least 2 to 3 months before the first hard frost of the autumn, there is little chance that your plant will put off much of a harvest. If you are planting outside, you may start seeds as early as 4 to 6 weeks before you plan on putting them into the ground or in containers.

Is It Better to Grow Basil Inside or Outside?

basil in a small pot

Basil is one of a few hardy plants that do just as well inside as it does outside (and vice-versa). The trick is making sure the plant has healthy soil, plenty of light, adequate moisture at all times, and is exposed to temperatures between 50°F and 70°F.

Basil does well in the garden, in the soil, in containers, on windowsills in flowerboxes, in flowerbeds with mulch, and indoors in pots. 

Does Basil Come Back Every Year?

Basil doesn’t necessarily come back to life each year, though it indeed can do so. That is why it is considered a half-hardy annual (basil may drop seeds that germinate just below the surface of the soil, turning into new plants in the spring). In containers, plants started late in the year may be taken inside to keep producing through the winter.

Does Basil Need Full Sun?

indoor herb garden

Basil doesn’t have to have be planted somewhere that it receives full sun, though it does prefer at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun. If you have less than enough full sun available, that’s ok. Basil tolerates partial shade just fine. Not needing full sun makes it an excellent herb to grow indoors.

Can Basil Survive Winter Indoors?

Basil is able to survive indoors during the winter if it is taken inside early enough (before the first hard frost) or is started inside. If you have more than one plant, you can have fresh basil all autumn and winter. Just place it somewhere it receives plenty of sunlight (like a windowsill).

Can you Grow Basil Year Round Indoors?

Yes, basil does grow all year round indoors. The best part is that it grows enough to harvest in just as much as 3 or 4 weeks. Indoors, it can be started practically any time of the year and it grows for up to 6 months.

How Long Does Basil Take to Grow?

Basil seeds germinate as quickly as 5 to 10 days. Once germinated and planted, basil requires around 30 additional days before the leaves are ready to begin harvesting. Indoors, and outdoor plants in the shade may take an additional couple of weeks to reach maturity.