How to Grow Lush Basil Plants Indoors
There are few things that are as divine as the smell and the taste of basil. The very origin of the word, which comes from Greek and means ‘royal’, says a lot about its properties and value. It’s difficult to imagine Italian cuisine without this aromatic herb, which has more than 150 species. Wherever you add it, the dish becomes a real masterpiece.
Imagine the atmosphere you could have in your kitchen with rich basil plants growing right on your windowsill. In fact, growing basil indoors is easier than you think and it’s definitely worth a little of your time and effort. There's something extremely therapeutic about growing your own plants and herbs at home, especially when you live in a busy city. So before we guide you through the process, let’s go over some of the major benefits and detoxing qualities of this magically delicious herb.
Benefits and detoxing qualities:
Basil is especially rich in Vitamin K, Manganese, flavonoids; it also contains Vitamins С, В1, В2, РР and essential oils.
It helps to fight bacteria, has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and even anticancer effects.
It's a good remedy against headache, fever, nausea, hypertension, gastric and respiratory disorders.
Basil is excellent for liver detoxification, it stimulates and normalises the work of your stomach, supports your kidney functioning, helps the body to get rid of harmful toxins.
It has anti-stress and anti-anxiety effects.
Basil is beautiful and smells amazing! Close your eyes and pretend you're in Italy! Try it in a smoothie, it adds a surprisingly delicious element.
Step by Step Basil Growing Guide
Spring is the perfect time to start growing basil as it likes warm, humid and sunny climate. Even if you are not a gardening pro and don’t live in the south you can still grow rich basil bushes by following a few simple tricks.
Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to grow it from starter plants or from seeds. Although growing from seeds is longer, it’s also more effective. So let's get started!
1. Choose the container and sterilise it to prevent diseases.
All you need to do is scratch the pot and water it very carefully. Also, make sure the pot has drainage holes.
2. Prepare the soil.
You can simply buy the general-purpose potting mix but it shouldn’t be dense or heavy. It’s also important not to pack it into the pot tightly, as it’s supposed to be light to ensure good hydration and light penetration.
3. Plant the seeds.
The seeds should be planted thinly with 5-7 centimetres between them. Then you need to cover them with 1cm of the soil you’ve prepared. Again, the soil must be loose, so don’t pack it. Next, use a spray bottle to moisten the soil and, finally, wait for the plants to sprout, which should happen within one week.
4. Provide sufficient lighting and warmth.
Basil is a southern plant so it really loves a lot of warmth and light. If you grow it on a windowsill, most likely it will get 6 hours of sunlight which the plant needs. In any case, it’s best to put the container on a south-facing window or as close to it as possible. Don’t forget to turn the plant from time to time to ensure even growth.
As for the perfect temperature, it should be around 17-25°C.
5. Ensure good hydration
Keep your basil moist, not wet. Drainage will help with that and make sure there isn't any standing water, which is very dangerous for the plant and can make the roots rot. Water the plants once a day and only in the morning. This is the main secret of growing basil.
6. Loosen the soil.
When your basil plants are around 5 centimetres high, it’s time to start loosening the soil. You should do it once every 2-3 days. It will enrich the soil with oxygen which is very important for plants grown indoors.
Thin the weaker plants to make them around 10 centimetres apart and ensure enough room for growth. This will make your basil plants big, juicy and healthy.
8. Prune Regularly.
You can pinch or cut leaves and use them fresh in your favourite dishes at any time. This activity will also play the role of natural pruning and you’ll get lush and juicy basil bushes. When you have adult plants, you may also prune the tips to encourage branching and better leaf growth. It’s worth noting that when the first flowers appear, the herb starts losing its flavour. In order to stop it and prolong your plant’s life, pinch them off as soon as you see them.
9. Necessary care to prevent diseases.
There are many factors which may compromise your plant’s health. Most importantly, avoid too much moisture in the soil, and if you see any sick leaves, remove them asap.
10. Gather and harvest
If you don’t use up all your basil, dry it or freeze it. The best way to store it and enjoy its flavour all year round is to wash the leaves, chop them and put into the freezer containers.
Drying is also rather easy. You may cut off the whole stems and hang them in a clean and dry place. When they are absolutely dry, store them in a jar and use them at any time you want to add incredible basil flavour to your dishes.