Herbs have magnificent healing powers and can be used to treat many serious yet common ailments and to boost your health.

Basil: Plant Care and Maintenance

Herbs > > Basil: Plant Care and Maintenance

This fragrant, ornamental herb is a staple of most any garden, and its uses have been documented for many centuries. As a low-maintenance herb which offers many varieties, basil is ideal for all herb gardens, from those of novices through Master Gardeners.

Basic Garden Basil Varieties

There are four basic varieties of the garden basil herb: sweet basil – reaching approximately two feet in height, with three-inch leaves and tiny white flowers; dwarf basil – growing to about 12 inches, also sporting white flowers; purple leaf basil – includes a number of sub-varieties which are generally ruffled in appearance; and scented leaf basil – also in a number of sub-varieties, which tend to have distinct aromas and coloring.

Starting Your Basil in Indoor Containers

When seeding this herb indoors, remember that they won’t survive temperatures that are too cool, so plan to do your planting approximately a month to a month and a half before the time of the last spring frost. You can either use a flatbed container (shallow) or individual units that are approximately 2” in diameter to begin, filling them with fresh potting soil that’s been moistened. If you’re planning to use small pots, be sure not to plant more than three herb seeds per container. If flatbeds are your preference, basil seeds can be planted in neat rows, being certain to cover them with no more than �”of soil.

You’ll need to ensure that the soil doesn’t become too dry during the germination process, so be sure to either sprinkle the potting soil with water when it appears to be dry, or cover the containers with a

In an effort to keep a consistently comfortable temperature for the herb seeds, strive for a temperature in or around the 72 degree mark. If the conditions are right, and the seeds are healthy, you should begin to see seedlings by the end of the first week. At this point, all plastic coverings should be removed and the herb plants should be given direct sunlight. If you’re concerned about the plants growing to one side or another, you can turn the container every couple of days so that it will develop in a straighter pattern. Once a couple of leaves have sprouted, you can transplant the basil seedlings into small pots, cutting off any smaller leaves, allowing only the large ones to remain in place.

Sowing Basil in a Garden Plot

For those who are planning to sow the herb seeds in the garden, rather than starting them in the house, it’s important to remember that basil seeds will survive in consistent temperatures of approximately 60 degrees. Unlike the indoor seeding process, outdoor herb plants of the basil variety should be sown in soil that’s �” deep, since environmental conditions might disturb the seeds if planted in more shallow ground. Be sure to plant them in a sunny area, since they do appreciate the warmth, and be sure that you plant them in an area that has good drainage. Basil plants should be sown approximately a foot apart, and the ground should be lightly watered after the seeds have been put in place. The result will be a delicious, aromatic herb that will provide a perfect complement to many dishes for the family table.

Herbs > > Basil: Plant Care and Maintenance