Skip to Content

Are Eggshells Good for Growing Basil?

Planting basil indoors is a great way to jump-start the season. You can use paper towel holders, seed trays or peat pots. But the easiest way is to start it in eggshells. Crushed eggshells may be used as fertilizer, pest repellent and mulch. Eggshells are rich in nutrients that basil plants need. Read more to learn about growing basil in eggshell.

Planting basil in eggshell.

You can use eggshells in several different ways to grow basil. It is great for amending soil and adding nutrients. Or, you can use eggshells as tiny pots to start your seedlings. Either way, you are recycling kitchen waste to grow something new.  

Whether you put your eggshells in your compost pile, crush them into dust and make eggshell tea, or use them to plant seeds, eggshells have many uses for your basil and other plants.

Basil requires certain nutrients – eggshells provide calcium.

All plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium; however, they also need other trace minerals, including calcium. So whether you grow basil in eggshells or add it as an amendment to the soil, that will help your basil and other plants.

Calcium works on us to give us strong bones, and plants use it to make their cell walls strong, and it plays an essential role in the health of your basil plants.

Using eggshells as mini plant pots for basil

Basil sprouts in eggshell on egg tray.

There are many ways to start basil seeds. You can grow the seed in flats or containers or sow the seeds directly on the ground. However, eggshells work perfectly in a whimsically economical way to grow tiny basil seeds.

Basil can be hard to transplant, so the less disturbance they have to their roots, the more likely they will grow into healthy plants. Using eggshells to grow your basil seeds, you plant the shell and seedlings in the ground together when it is time for you to transplant them into a container or the garden.

Using eggshells to start basil seed

You can use eggshells to start basil seeds in, and once your basil seedlings are large enough to transplant, you plant them, shell and all. The eggshell will add nutrients to the soil and protect the roots until they are established in their new home.

How to grow basil seeds in eggshells?

Basil sprouts in eggshell.

Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the top third of a fresh egg. Pour out the yolk and whites, save them for baking or other purposes, and return the empty shell to the carton, which will hold your tiny planters while your basil grows.

Note: The egg whites and yolks you remove from these eggs can be slightly stirred, put into Ziploc bags, frozen, and thawed for later use. If you put two in the bag, you will be able to portion them for baking and other uses. In other words, please don’t waste the eggs because you need the shells and can’t eat them all right now!

  1. After removing the tops of the eggshell and the insides, rinse the shells and let them air dry.
  2. Once the eggshells are dry, poke a tiny hole in the bottom of the shell, which will allow the shell to drain if it is overwatered.
  3. Using a small spoon or other small instruments, carefully fill the shells with moistened, not wet, potting soil. Then, press it gently into the shell, ensuring there are no air pockets.
  4. Plant three or four basil seeds in the prepared shells to a depth of about a quarter of an inch by either pushing the seed into the soil or laying them on the top of the dirt, then lightly covering them with a thin layer of soil.
  5. Once you have planted basil seed in all of your eggshells, mist the top of the soil.

You can cover the egg carton with plastic film or another cover if you like. Covering the plants keeps the humidity up, keeps the soil from drying out, and elevates the temperature, which helps the seed germinate.

  1. Place the carton in a sunny window and keep the seeds watered lightly, but do not let the soil completely dry out. You should have basil sprouts in five to ten days or possibly sooner if all goes well.
  2. Once your seedlings have two sets of real leaves and are an inch or two high, it is time for you to introduce them to their new home. You can plant eggshells all in a container or in a garden.
  3. When planting your seedlings grown in eggshells, lightly crack the shell before setting the plant into its new home so that the roots can easily find their way into the soil.
  4. Once you have planted all of your eggshell basil, water your plants and watch them grow!

The calcium from the eggshell will leach into the soil as it breaks down and contributes to your basil’s growth. However, your plants will need more than eggshells as nutrients for the soil, and you will need to fertilize your plants every two to four weeks.

Water-soluble or liquid fertilizer for herbs will work best. You can find it online or at your local hardware or farm supply store. Or, you can make your own.

What do eggshells have in them anyway?

Basil sprouts in eggshell.

The composition of eggshells is calcium carbonate. Calcium gives us strong bones and healthy muscles and bones, and it provides your basil with what it needs to grow strong cell walls.

The nutrients of eggshells can be delivered to your plants by crushing the shell and sprinkling it around your plants, where it will eventually break down. On the other hand, you can grind the eggshells into a powder and dust the ground around your plants with the resulting product.

What does calcium do for your basil plants?

Eggshell that you have added to the soil provides more than calcium alone. The shells also contain magnesium and potash, both essential plant nutrients.

Crushed eggshell also helps regulate the pH of the soil your basil is in, which likes a pH between 6.0 and 7.5, which means the soil needs to be slightly acidic. Calcium also helps maintain the overall mineral balance of the soil.

Benefits of powdered eggshells for your basil – and how to make it

You do not need to grow your basil in eggshells to benefit from their use in the garden. You can add crushed or powdered eggshells to the soil when you plant your basil plants.

Making eggshell powder to use on your basil plants

Eggshells take a long time to break down in the soil, and after several years and turnings of the earth, you will still be able to see tiny shards of eggshells in the ground.

Unless you are using eggshells as mulch, the best way to get the calcium from the shells to your basil and other plants is by turning them into powder.

The process is easy, and you start by cleaning the eggshells and removing any white that may be hanging on. After you have washed the shells, leave them out to air-dry for three or four days. You want the eggshells to be very dry. Moisture can attract pathogens, especially if any white or yolk remains in the eggshell before grinding it to powder.

If you want to go old school, you can grind the shells you have prepared with a mortar and pestle. However, an easier method is to use a blender or a food processor. Once you have ground the eggshell into powder, it will need to be stored in a dry, airproof container.

What to do with your eggshell powder for your basil plants

Powder eggshell in pestle and mortar.

Eggshells are also great to add to your compost pile, but it can take them a long time to break down, even in this environment.

So, to speed the process and add the benefit of eggshells to your compost pile, grind your eggshells into powder before they go to the compost pile. The shell’s calcium can then mix with the other organic matter and enhance its quality and nutritional value.

You can also mix the eggshell powder with potting soil to boost calcium. Remember, a plant will only take up the nutrients it needs, so you cannot overdo the eggshell powder in potting soil or your compost pile. For a product that you can use on all of your plants, including your basil, you can make your eggshells or powder into eggshell tea!

Recipe for eggshell tea

Rinse your eggshells out, then let them air dry. Crumble the shells once they are dry and place them in a bowl. Pour boiling water over the shells and leave until the water comes to room temperature.

You can leave the tiny shell shards in the mix or strain them out. If you leave little pieces, they will eventually break down in the soil and add their nutrients to the mix.

Or you can use eggshell powder and steep it in hot water just as you would the shell, which will give you a product free of tiny shell shards. You can use your eggshell tea to water your plants daily or apply it once or twice a week. A plant will only uptake so many minerals, so what your basil does not use from the soil will be there for it later.

Either method is effective and will be a great addition to your basil, other herbs, and vegetable plants. Decorative plants will not need as much calcium as the plants we eat. However, they will still benefit from watering with eggshell tea every month.

Benefits of crushed eggshells on your basil

Woman crushing eggshell in pot.

Crushed eggshells add nutrients to your basil and deter pests like cutworms and slugs. Unfortunately, they do not seem to care for crushed eggshells atop the soil and go in another direction.

To use your eggshells as a deterrent to these harmful pests, crush the shells rather coarsely and put a thick layer of them about two inches away from the stem of your basil or other plants. The slimy creatures don’t like the feel of the sharp edges of the eggshells; they turn away and go elsewhere.

Eggshells as a pest preventative for your basil

If slugs and cutworms are a problem in your area, you can use eggshell grindings to protect the plants you are growing using the same method as basil. Some gardeners have found this to be effective, while others have not.

Eggshells do not work for me in my garden. Where I live, the slugs are so big they carry the cutworms around on their backs, and nothing deters them if they want to eat a plant.

Seven dust, which I hate to use, barely keeps the bugs at bay. However, planting many different herbs around my garden has helped deter some bugs while giving others something to eat besides the crops.

Both of these pests can decimate a garden in short order, and if you can use natural remedies instead of poison to deter them, then do so by all means. Diatomaceous earth has sharp, crystalline edges and works to discourage pests. However, unlike eggshells, the diatomaceous ground loses effectiveness if it gets wet, and eggshells do not.

Eggshells are great for basil.

A spoon full of powder eggshell.

As you can see, you can use eggshells in many ways when growing basil. You don’t need to purchase peat pots or plastic trays to grow your seedlings by using them to produce your basil seed. The fact that you can plant the eggshell right along with the plants is excellent. You know for sure that they are perfectly biodegradable.  

Fertilizers have gotten very expensive, as have eggs, and finding ways to use what you have to grow your plants can be a challenge. However, there are many things you already have around your home that will help you continue to produce great plants, you just need to know what they are, and you can use them.

Eggshells are one of these items. Whether you crush or powder your eggshells, they will help you grow healthy basil while adding nothing harmful to the environment.

Adding the eggshells to your compost to enrich it with calcium and other kitchen waste will also reduce the amount of garbage you need to haul to the curb.

Compost is the foundation of any successful garden. It is the most effective way to recycle the waste from your kitchen. With it, you can make rich beds to grow basil, tomatoes, and other beautiful bounties of the earth.

Sources: