Growing Tips: Basil

Quick Reference:

Plant seed 1/8 inch deep spaced 1 to 2 inches apart. Germination: 10 to 15 days. In cool climates Basil does best when grown as a container plant.

When and where to plant:

Basil is a very tender, sun loving annual that will not withstand even a trace of frost. This warm loving plant likes both the air and soil temperatures to be in the 60's and does not do well in the cool garden soils that are found in most parts of Alaska. In Alaska basil does best as an indoor or outdoor container plant. Start seed indoors four to five weeks before it will be transplanted outdoors. Basil germinates very slowly, soak seed in warm water between paper towels for 6 to 8 hours immediately before planting. Fill a container that has drainage holes with sterilized potting soil, sprinkle seed on soil surface. Lightly cover seed with 1/8 inch fine soil, water well for good seed-soil contact and keep moist until seedlings emerge. When seedlings are 1 to 1 ½ inches high re-pot or transplant outdoors in a rich, moist soil in full sun.


Basil is not forgiving when allowed to dry out, provide plenty of water. Pinch the center and ends of stems to make the plant bushier and help delay it from flowering.


Cut leaves anytime for fresh use. Harvest leaves for drying as the flowers begin to open.