If you love the smell and taste of basil, then you should think about growing this herb indoors.
Not only does the plant add to your décor, but it is a practical plant with multiple benefits.
You have a meal flavoring on tap whenever you need it, and this herb contains many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Keep the doctor away by including basil in hot meals, salads, sandwiches, and flavor cold drinks.
Put your green gardening fingers to the test and grow basil indoors, whether you prefer to use containers or raised beds. Either way, you will improve your health with this easy-growing herb.
Why grow basil indoors?
Growing basil indoors has several benefits.
You get to enjoy the aroma of this plant around the home, such as the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, or living areas. Other than using basil to complement cooked food, you can use it in its raw form in salads and even make tea from this plant.
Here are several other benefits you can enjoy when you grow basil indoors.
There are over sixty different basil varieties, so you can plant those with lemon or mint flavor, ones with green or purple leaves, and many others indoors.
Basil is full of healthy minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. In addition, this plant contains benefits such as beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. Use fresh basil to benefit from all the goodness of this herb as drying causes a loss of essential oils, which contain much of its goodness.
Basil contains minute amounts of protein and fats. It also has vitamins A and K. The minerals in this herb include magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, and zinc.
Sweet basil contains properties like eugenol, limonene, and lime (in lemon basil), and antioxidants that reduce the volume of free radicals that cause disease. As a result, Basil is good for fighting cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease, among others.
Grow basil indoors to benefit from its blood sugar-regulating properties.
Basil improves your mental health and reduces inflammation.
You can use this plant to ward off bacterial infections on the skin, lungs, stomach, urinary tract, and bowels.
If you’re feeling unwell, a steeped tea of infused basil will relieve many symptoms.
Basil makes a terrific addition to cooked meals. You can use this herb as a tasty addition to pasta sources, soups and use it raw in a salad.
You can make an olive oil infusion with basil for extra flavor and nutrition.
It makes a good garnish for drinks and desserts.
You can use basil as a fresh food complement, dry it or freeze this plant for later use.
Basil is an appropriate companion plant for tomatoes and other vegetables because it helps ward off bugs.
Experimenting with growing basil indoors is relatively simple as it does well as a container plant.
This list provides a small taste of why it is beneficial to grow basil indoors, but let’s outline the details of how to grow basil indoors.
When to plant it
You can learn to grow basil indoors because it is a popular activity as this is a quick-growing herb with many benefits. After planting your basil from seeds, you will be able to enjoy your harvest in as little as three to four weeks.
The perfect time to plant your basil seeds is two weeks after the last frost when the soil temperature is around 50°F to 70°F.
Because basil comes from warmer climates, it enjoys as much warmth as possible to ensure you place your container where this plant can enjoy plenty of sunlight. Basil thrives when it gets between six and eight hours of daily sunlight.
Besides planting basil after the last frost, you can also grow it during summer.
You can start to grow basil indoors by cutting off a small piece of an existing plant. After taking the basil cutting, place the raw side in a glass of water in a sunny area. Replace the water once every two to three days, and when the roots are approximately two inches, you can plant it in soil.
Container or raised bed
Basil grows exceptionally well in containers, so you can plant basil in several containers. You can then place them around the home in full sunlight, or you can use raised beds to grow basil indoors.
If you want to use a container to grow basil indoors, ensure that you use a large one to keep the soil moist.
Using a small container can quickly cause the soil to dry out, which can harm your plant. On the other hand, when you use a large container, your plant will require less water.
A raised bed is better to grow basil indoors when you want to grow more than one plant. If you intend to grow several basil plants, then ensure that you plant them at least twelve to eighteen inches apart.
Placing the basil far apart helps with aeration and prevents disease formation. It also allows space for this herb to grow healthily into a mature plant.
Soil to use
If you’re considering growing basil indoors, then use the right soil type to promote its growth. Basil thrives in soil that drains well, retains a decent amount of water, and has a pH of between six and seven.
To ensure good drainage and water retention, mix your soil with a fair amount of blood or cottonseed meal, or compost. Enriching the earth with these mediums provides a steady supply of nutrition that the basil needs to thrive.
Growing basil indoors will ensure a regular supply of this herb for four to six months. If you plant the basil outdoors, it can last for up to six months, but growing basil indoors usually means the plant will last for about four months.
The best timing for basil harvesting is when the plant is about six to eight inches tall. Harvest the leaves before the basil begins flowering; otherwise, they will be bitter.
How often to water
After planting the basil indoors, you can water the soil lightly.
As the herb begins to grow, you should water it every three to four days. If the weather is scorching, check the soil moisture with your finger. If the ground is dry, increase the amount of water you feed the plants.
Regular watering is vital to ensure your basil plants continue to grow well. You can also mulch the area around the roots, so the ground retains more water, especially if you live in a hot place.
Harvest the basil leaves regularly to promote continuous growth. Once the plants begin to flower, the plant will no longer grow. You can lengthen the harvesting period of the basil by snipping off the flowers.
Your basil leaves will also retain their sweet flavor, which is ideal for adding to salads, making pasta sauce, soups, and many other dishes.
Because basil is an herb you should harvest frequently, it is not necessary to add fertilizer to the soil. Instead, blood or cottonseed meal and compost increase the nutrient levels sufficiently in the ground to ensure healthy growth.
However, if you think the soil may lack nutrients, you should use an organic fertilizer to boost growth.
When you grow basil indoors, an addition or organic fertilizer once every month or six weeks will be enough to continue producing luscious leaves.
An excellent organic fertilizer should contain nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium in equal amounts. Read the fertilizer packages at a nearby plant nursery and buy one with the numbers 10:10:10, indicating equal volumes of these minerals.
You can use these pro tips to support dynamic growth when you grow basil indoors.
Pro-tip #1: Ensure your basil receives up to eight hours of sunlight daily when you grow basil indoors. Increasing this herb’s exposure to sunlight will ensure healthy leaf growth for an extended period.
Pro-tip #2: If you don’t have enough sunlight filtering indoors, consider purchasing mini-LED grow lights to support the healthy growth of your basil leaves.
Pro-tip #3: Once your basil plants have grown their first true leaves, keep pinching off the excess ones at the top of the plant to encourage constant growth.
Pro-tip #4: Avoid overwatering the basil you grow indoors, which will likely cause the plant to die.
Pro-tip #5: Increase your use of basil beyond four to six months by drying or freezing the leaves for later use.
The choice to grow basil indoors can be a rewarding one. Also, growing this plant indoors gives you long-term access to fresh leaves with multiple health and taste benefits.
You can use basil in cooking to enhance the flavor of your meals. You can also grow basil indoors, so you always have the ingredients for a tea infusion on hand. Or you can just chew on the leaves for a refreshing mouth flavor.
Even if you love basil but aren’t that fond of gardening, this herb is easy to grow.
You don’t need green fingers or loads of time or experience to grow this plant as it requires only modest maintenance. A little effort is guaranteed to go a long way when you choose to grow basil indoors.
Tyler C Rich is the founder and chief editor at TopsyGardening.com. An experienced gardener and a professionally trained agriculture development expert, Rich has worked in the gardening and landscaping industry for more than a few decades. Although he has retired, his spark for developing the best urban and indoor gardens has not faded a bit. He uses TopsyGardening.com as a platform to come across enthusiastic gardeners and share the unique insights he has acquired through years of experience. Rich is interested in aquaponics and technology apart from conventional gardening techniques.