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9 Ways to Speed Up Basil Plant Growth for a Faster Harvest

Ways to speed up basil plant growth.

Basil can be a fun plant to grow, and when you do it right, the results can be extraordinary. The key to remembering everything you need to know about basil is that it is a plant that likes warmth and likes extremely moist soil.

When you grow it, you will soon become addicted to its aroma and its zesty herb-like flavor. You can add to almost any savory dish. The sooner you start, the sooner you will want it on your plate.

Related To: How to Bring a Dead Basil Plant

1. Basil Likes Warmth

A healthy basil in direct sunlight.

When you want to grow basil, you will learn quickly that it likes to be kept warm. It is typically a warm-weather plant that likes to grow in warmth, regardless of the climate that it is in.

As hardy as basil can be, it will be sensitive to the slightest change in temperature. If you live in a seasonal climate, you want to be sure that you avoid putting basil into the soil or outside before last frost of spring.

If you are too excited to wait for your basil, get them started indoors in tiny pots, and begin seedlings of basil to prepare for your outdoor garden. You will enjoy the growing period. As soon as they are a few inches tall, they will be ready to plant outside.

If you are planting your basil in pots and keeping it outside, bring them inside at any sign of frost. If a cooler night is on the horizon, bring them in. Along with warmer temperatures, basil enjoys being in the sun.

You want to put the basil in direct sunlight, even when it is outside. The soil it needs to be in should be composted and contain organic material. Basil grows in tropical climates quickly, so adequate sun and warmth are key to growing basil fast.

2. Properly Drained and Moist Soil

Planting basil outside in healthy soil.

It’s important to have properly drained and incredibly moist soil for your basil. Most plants prefer this, but a lot of water is something basil really thrives on. The soil needs to be able to drain well. Start with seedling planters and outdoor planters with drainage holes in the bottom of them. If you have a planter that you love that just does not have this hole, drill a hole in the bottom of it.

Along with very well-drained soil, you want to have moist soil. Keeping the soil moist as often as possible will be important to helping your basil grow quickly and large. You have to balance that fine line between keeping up the moisture without overloading the basil with water.

The biggest danger to overwatering basil will be causing them to rot botyritis, which will prevent any growth from happening at all. Moist soil is enough moisture for the plants, with weekly watering.

When you are watering, you want to water at the base of the plant to irrigate the soil and try to avoid drenching its leaves. This part of the plant has already grown and thrived. You want the stem of the plant to get the necessary nutrients from the water.

If your basil is potted or in containers outside, it will need a little more water than basil that is planted in the ground. That is because ground soil will have more moisture than potting soil.

3. Fertilizing Your Basil

Fertilizing basil sprout using a spoon.

Fertilizing is an important component of every plant process. This is another form of plant food that helps it to grow. Fertilizer is nutrient-enriched food for plants that helps to provide bigger blooms or leaves. For basil, it could help it to grow faster.

A good rule of thumb for fertilizing basil is to fertilize it every four to six weeks for plants that are indoors. Outdoor plants may sometimes need fertilizer a little more frequently because outdoor plants feed through the nutrients quicker than indoor plants.

But it will all depend on the soil. If you have good soil, you may not need to fertilize your outdoor plants at all. Indoor plants need a little more because they do not have the benefits of direct sun nutrients or natural soil nutrients.

4. Prune Early and Regularly

A man's hand pruning basil using scissor.

Pruning and harvesting basil are the same things. The sooner and more often you prune, the more likely you are going to grow large basil fast. It is a good idea to harvest your basil as often as possible, every week or so while the basil is in season.

When you begin to notice flowers growing, you can begin to prune them back. If you don’t take the flowers off early, the basil plant will put its time and energy into creating more seeds for future growth.

This is going to delay your basil season and also create more seeds and less of the bounty of basil foliage. You will also notice that if you don’t prune the flowers from the basil, it impacts the overall flavor of your basil. If you forget to prune the flowers, you can simply pinch the heads off of them. These parts of the plant are edible as well, though an acquired taste to some.

It is easy to get over-excited when you are harvesting basil, particularly for the first time. A good rule of thumb for harvesting is only to harvest approximately 20 percent of your basil every time.

When you leave a little more after every harvest, you allow the rest of the plant to grow quicker and bigger. Resist the urge to resist pruning because it will feel like it is making your plant smaller because pruning actually performs the opposite effect.

To prune, begin by starting when your plants are half a foot tall or even larger. You don’t want to prune too early, either. You will need to use shears to keep the cut clean unless you are pinching flowers. There is a science to pruning, although it isn’t very complicated. You don’t want to prune randomly. The ones that you prune will determine the life of your plant, so pick carefully.

Start at the top when you are pruning. You may be tempted to clean up the bottom leaves of the plant, but these are the sections of the plant that are keeping the whole machine going. These leaves are the ones that drink in the sunlight and water for your basil. You’ll also notice that basil leaves grow in opposite directions, and this is going to help direct your pruning as well.

To prune, just cut the section of the stem just above the new leaves, and be sure to leave the new growth in place. Every time that you prune, you want to prune from the top down.

This will ensure that you always have room to grow from your section of pruning. When you prune from the top, two new branches will emerge that will allow for new growth. This enables faster growing and will also provide for more basil growth. Every branch will grow exponentially from another.

5. Grow Basil Indoors

Indoor basil in small pots next to a tomato basket.

When you are growing basil, outdoor growth is excellent growth and can definitely grow quickly. But basil grown indoors can grow all year-round and has a chance of growing just as fast under the right conditions. It is very easy to grow indoors, and you can grow it fast. In some cases, basil can even be more successful indoors than it can be outdoors, and indoor warmth will have a lot to do with that.

You may find that when growing basil indoors, you can grow it in just a few weeks. The small glossy leaves will begin to show in a very fast time, and the scent will be filling your home sooner than you know it. Basil loves the sun, so you will have to find a replacement, or direct sun, for your indoor sun. Grow lights are ideal choices for basil, and basil will do very well under them.

Grow lights can also help you to increase the bounty of your basil harvest and have your kitchen packed with basil all year long. You only need a pot for the plant, and you can have as many as you like. If you test basil under grow lights and direct sun, you will find that the basil grows faster under grow lights.

Fluorescent bulbs are suitable bulbs for grow lights, and you can keep basil under these lights for up to 12 hours daily. Basil in direct sunlight only needs 6 hours daily but could withstand more. That is why grow lights will help basil to grow faster, as it receives more light in shorter time spans.

6. Keep Indoor Basil Near Humidity

An indoor basil in a pot next to windowsill.

Basil likes warmth, and we can’t say that enough. It also likes water and moisture. So it only stands to reason that it would like humidity.

Keeping your basil in temperatures that are over 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with some moisture in the air, will add to your goal of growing basil quickly. When growing basil indoors, you want to keep it away from air conditioners and vents that could bring cool air onto the plant.

Keep your basil in a room that isn’t air-conditioned or cooled with fans. Misting the air around your basil will help to keep the air humid. You can also help add moisture to the air by bringing river rocks into the room in order to increase humidity levels for your basil.

7. Watering Tips for Indoor Basil

A man's hand watering basil in black pot.

When you are growing basil indoors, it will grow quickly naturally in a warm setting. Watering is a little bit different for indoor basil. You want to keep approximately one inch of water going for the basil every week, but you can mist the area around the basil as well to keep the air ripe with moisture for your basil leaves.

When you see the top layer of your soil begin to dry or when the leaves show a slight sign of wilting, you can add more water to your pots. Watering is key to keeping the plant healthy and having it grow faster.

8. Fertilizing and Maintaining Indoor Basil

A woman maintaining indoor basil in white pot.

Organic compost is a good compost to have for your indoor basil when you want it to grow quickly. When you are using organic compost, you won’t have to worry about fertilizing it too much.

However, should you find that your basil isn’t growing fast enough, you may want to add plant food or fertilizer to it in order to help speed up the growing process. A good liquid fertilizer or plant pellets are ideal for adding to your basil plants. Maintaining your indoor basil outside of fertilizer and water is easy.

You just need to make sure that the soil is drained well and has a good circulation around it. This is much easier to do outdoors when the air circulation is natural, and the winds of the season do that for you. Indoors, you need to keep an eye on this and keep your pots well-drained so that the plant is well ventilated while also well-watered.

Container size is important when it comes to your basil plants. You will need to ensure that your basil is in the right size, with larger pots being more sensible than smaller ones. Smaller pots will need to be repotted, or you will give your basil a root rot that you won’t be able to come back from.

When in doubt, it is always easier to go larger with your pots than smaller if you really don’t have a choice or don’t feel like repotting later in the season. You can also prevent root rot or botrytis in your basil by ensuring there is good airflow in the pot or container. You want to see the water come out of the pots, but you don’t want the pot to sit in water, either.

9. Follow the Same Rules

In the end, the same general rules apply for both indoor and outdoor basil when you want it to grow quickly. It needs warmth and moisture and well-drained soil. The nuances of how you do that indoors or outdoors will differ, just follow these tips here.