Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Growing Basil Indoors, in Open Land, in Raised Beds, or in Containers

Basil grown in a windowsill container

After choosing which varieties of basil you’ll grow, then you need to decide where and how you’ll plant them.

Growing Indoors

You can grow basil plants indoors, all year long, as long as you have the right sunlight and temperature conditions. Try a warm, bright window sill—or a greenhouse, if you have one.

Or you can use indoor growing to get your basil plants started about six weeks before re-planting them outside. Just be sure to plant outdoors after the last frost and when temperatures have really started to get warmer—regularly over 70 degrees F.

Growing Basil in Open Land or in Raised Beds

Basil planted alongside lettuce as a natural bug repellent

Basil can grow up to 24 inches in height, depending on the variety. Make sure you space plants about 12 to 16 inches apart for best results, especially for the bushy types that will really thrive when given the space.

Basil is an excellent companion plant for both indoor and outdoor gardens. Planting basil wards off insects and helps other plants in the garden thrive. Some gardeners swear that growing basil with tomatoes makes the tomatoes taste sweeter.

Plant your basil alongside other plants such as lettuce, chamomile, oregano, and peppers. The pungent fragrance of fresh basil does a great job of chasing away mosquitoes, flies, and other bothersome insects.

Creating raised beds for your garden can be a lot of work the first time you set up your beds. But, having raised beds allows you more control over your growing environment. You’ll discover that watering, irrigation, weeding, and even harvesting are much easier—with items closer to your reach and contained in a space that is more manageable than growing in open land. And once you create your raised beds the first time, subsequent years will be easier.

And for decorative basil, a raised bed is a great way to edge your garden with beautiful plants that also deliver a harvest for your kitchen!

Growing Basil in Containers or Pots

Basil grown in an outdoor pot

If you don’t have the space for growing in open land or in raised beds—let’s say you live in an apartment with no land of your own for a garden, for example—you can grow basil in containers or pots on your balcony, porch, patio, or deck.

One great advantage to container gardening for basil is the ability to move plants around more easily to maximize their exposure to the sun and to properly give sun and shade to seedlings vs. mature plants. Tip: If you have trouble moving pots around—because they’re too heavy or too bulky—try putting your pots on slightly raised rolling casters, so you can more easily move them around your space.

The potted patio basil is very common; you just have to know the right way to do container gardening for basil. For example, you have to be more vigilant about watering and drainage when using containers or pots—plants can dry out much faster, and your basil can be more prone to root rot when over-watered.
When your pots of basil are close by, it’s easy to clip your harvest and use it fresh-off-the-plant for your recipes! Just remember to clip fresh basil right before you’re going to use it—even letting fresh basil sit for 30 minutes on your counter will deflate the flavor.

How do you grow your basil—indoors, in open land, in raised beds, or in containers? Why do you prefer your method? Please tell us your tips and tricks for creating an awesome basil garden.

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