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Sweet Basil Ocimum basilicum

Growing Sweet Basil: Tips at a Glance

Basil thrives in a Mediterranean climate. For the rest of us, it's important to give the herb full sun, rich soil, and heat. Read our growing tips:

  • Type Herb
  • Lifespan Annual
  • USDA Zones 4-10
  • Light Sun
  • Water Keep soil spongy
  • Soil Rich, well-drained
  • Companions Other basils
  • Design Tip Thrives in containers
  • Harvest Time Before it flowers
  • Beware Don't water at night

Sweet Basil: A Field Guide

In winter we dream of summertime basil, lightly torn over mozzarella and tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil, or crushed in a pesto so fresh and fragrant we can taste it as we type. It seems so easy in our dreams.

In reality, nurturing a healthy crop of basil—bountiful enough for pesto, at least—is tricky business. If you live in a Mediterranean climate, you’re poised for success. For the rest of us, it’s important to remember that sweet basil needs full sun and heat (but if you’re inland, give it a bit of shade). Plant in a 50/50 mix of potting soil and organic compost, and try to refresh the soil at least once, if possible. Don’t interplant basil with other herbs; basil’s water needs are too demanding. For a new twist of color and taste, check out Greek, Thai, or lemon basil cultivars, along with dramatic purple varieties.

Planting, Care & Design of Sweet Basil

More About Sweet Basil