Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Growing Basil from Seeds, Cuttings or Seedlings

Basil seedlings

Basil is an annual plant, but you can grow it year-round if you want to have plants indoors.

And gardeners can grow basil directly from seed, because basil will germinate and sprout quite easily. If you’re planting from seed and are planning to grow your basil outside, start them indoors at least six weeks before the last frost of the season. Check your local listings for frost dates in your area.

Basil is very susceptible to cold weather, so you’ll want to harvest any outside basil before late fall—or bring plants inside on a window sill with plenty of light and warmth.

While it’s easy to grow basil from seed, planting a cutting is also an easy method of growing this terrific herb. Select a 4-inch section of a mature basil plant that has yet to start flowering. Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle, and then let it sit in water—you don’t need to add any rooting hormone to the cutting while it sits in the water.

The basil cutting’s roots should form in seven to 10 days, and you can plant the cuttings directly into the garden once the roots are big enough to take in the soil.

Finally, if planting by seed or cutting isn’t in your plan, you can always pick up basil plants at your local garden center and plant them where you want in your herb garden. Just be sure to choose plants that look bright and healthy and not droopy, which indicates a lack of water.

Note: If you’re planting a seedling or cutting, make sure temperatures are above 70 degrees F. Basil plants like light and heat!

Have you tried growing basil from seeds, seedlings, or both? Which method do you prefer—and why? Please tell us how you get your basil garden started ever year.

  • I’ve grown from plants and seeds. Plants are quicker; but you’re left with someone else’s choices. Sometimes I like to pick and do the extra work.
    Have never tried cuttings. I’m interested if that would extend my season since plants tend to begin “giving up” toward the end of my tomato season.

    • Norann O.

      I like to take cuttings in the fall so that I can keep my garden going with a kitchen windowsill herb garden. Give it a try and let us know how it turns out for you.


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