Basil - Knowledgebase Question

Scotts Valley, Ca
Avatar for iesha6
Question by iesha6
June 15, 2007
I've got 6 basil plants that I put in 3 different areas of my garden to see where it would grow best. Three plants died off all together and the of the 3 left none look great. In the best area, next to my tomato plants, the basil leaves are too thick and the color is a lighter shade of green then it should be. In one area, it didn't grow at all and wilted and died and in another area the leaves are stunned, too thick and keeps trying to go to flower even though it is so little. All areas have heavy afternoon sun and the soil was amended prior to planting with a compost for breaking up clay soil.

Answer from NGA
June 15, 2007
How disappointing for you! Basil is an annual plant that grows best in rich, moist soil in morning sun and afternoon shade in your region (hot sunshine can dessicate the tender leaves). Basil is one of those cut and come again plants; you'll want to either pinch or prune off the topmost leaves to encourage bushy plants. You?ll also want to prevent your basil from blooming for as long as possible, by harvesting or pinching off the top sets of leaves as soon as the plant reaches about 6" in height. If the plant sets flowers, it is on its way to going to seed and will not be bushing out with leaves. Once a basil plant goes to seed, the existing leaves lessen in flavor. Basil is a heat lover so air temperatures above 70F will encourage lots of new growth.

You might want to try growing basil in a pot until you become familiar with the plant and the exposure it prefers. Try regular potting soil and morning sun, afternoon shade. Water thoroughly, then allow the top half-inch of potting soil to dry out before watering again. Pinch off the leaves at least weekly to help the plant bush out.

Hope you have better luck with your next basil plants!

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