Are you ready to grow basil but aren’t feeling too confident in your garden’s placement? We’re here to help. This article will cover where to plant basil, if basil prefers sun or shade, if basil is best grown indoors or outside, and how much sunshine is too much. Read on to learn all about the basil plant.
Where to Plant Basil
Basil is a tropical herb originating from Asia, meaning it needs six to eight hours of sunshine, with warm, moist, nutrient-dense, well-draining soil.
If you live in the South or Southwestern region of the United States, six to eight hours will likely scorch and kill the plant. In this instance, the plant needs some shade provided for the afternoon hours.
You may plant basil outside directly in the ground, in a raised garden bed, in a greenhouse, in a container, or indoors in trays, pots, or in an aquaponics system.
Basil can grow outdoors in zones 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. When grown indoors where the temperature is better regulated as “room temperature,” basil can be grown in all USDA zones.
Absolutely keep your basil plant away from frost. Really, most basil plants will struggle and slow down their growth if their temperature dips below fifty degrees Fahrenheit. Consider using an easy-to-move container if you live in a cooler region but sometimes want to keep your plant outside. Bring your plant indoors when the temperature dips into light jacket weather.
The soil should be slightly acidic to a neutral pH value (6 to 7). The soil should be fertile yet well-drained and frequently watered. Deeply water the soil once the top inch of soil is dry, and take care to avoid wetting the leaves. Wet leaves can scorch and are more prone to pests, infections, and diseases. Never use pesticides or insecticides on plants that you intend on ingesting.
Also, take caution to keep your garden away from other commercially raised agricultural crops, roadsides, neighboring properties, and driveways. You don’t want any accidental overspray to come in contact with your herb and vegetable garden.
You can encourage leaf growth by feeding the plant with water-soluble plant food. This practice makes the basil leaves larger, with a better texture and a more robust aroma.
Make sure you space your basil plants out in the garden, with about twelve to eighteen inches in between each one.
If you start your basil plant from seed, consider that basil plants have a low germination rate; only about 60% of seeds will sprout. Because of this, you’ll want to drop several seeds into each tray or hole and then extra seedlings out later.
Plant seeds and seedlings about a quarter-inch deep in the soil. You can expect the plants to grow to be one to two feet tall at maturity.
Does basil like sun or shade?
Basil prefers six to eight hours of sunshine in moderate areas and four to five hours of sun in more extreme, hot, or dry regions.
Basil is relatively flexible and will perform well even in shaded areas, including inside homes with access to some natural lighting.
Basil can grow indoors in hydroponic systems with 100% artificial lighting, too, so that method may be worth trying.
Is It Better To Grow Basil Inside or Outside?
This depends on your location and climate.
If you live in a tropical or subtropical region where the air is moist, the sunshine is plentiful but not harsh, and the weather stays warm, it is better to plant basil outside. This climate is similar to its native home in Asia; you will find that basil grows quite prolifically in these conditions.
If you live anywhere else, be it hotter, drier, colder, or wetter, it’s best to provide your basil plant with indoor living.
If you have days that mimic tropical or subtropical regions, it’s okay to move your potted basil outdoors for the day. Just be sure the plant won’t be exposed to significantly more sunlight than it previously saw indoors. The stress and additional light can stress, scorch, or even kill the basil plant.
Can you plant basil outside?
Basil plants can be planted outside, so long as you live in USDA zones 5-10. If you don’t reside in one of those zones, consider a greenhouse, an aquaponics system, or growing your herbs indoors.
Basil can grow in windowsills, under artificial lighting, or a combination of both.
Can basil get too much sun?
While basil plants love sunshine, they absolutely can be exposed to too much sun. If you live in a desert or sweltering area, the sunlight can be too much for a basil plant. Provide it with shade in the afternoon, or bring it indoors for protection.
Basil can also be shocked if it is moved outdoors without acclimation. If you grew your seedlings indoors and want to transplant them outside, do so slowly.
Only set the seeds outside in the sun for a half-hour each time for the first few days. After five days or so, you can give the plants an hour a day. After ten days, the plants can have two hours. Then, allow them to have three and then four hours the following week. Finally, your young plants can live outdoors full time (at least until the wind blows cold again).
Remember that basil grows naturally in subtropical and tropical regions. If you can replicate that environment, you can keep your basil plant happy, healthy, and thriving.