Knowing how to grow basil is such a valuable skill—after all, you can never run out of creative ways to use this delicious and versatile herb! It has a crisp complexity that mingles so well with both sweet and savory notes. And if you love to grow your own food, basil is perfect for pairing with garden fruits and veggies for a fresh burst of summery flavor.
Indoors vs. Outdoors: How to Grow Basil Like a Pro
When you’re learning how to grow basil, the most important thing to note is that this plant requires 6–8 hours of direct sun each day. How do you keep basil alive indoors? Well, your best bet is to place it in a south-facing or east-facing window that isn’t shaded by any trees or buildings.
Outdoors, you can plant your basil anywhere there’s full sun and well-draining soil. It can make a nice filler plant for the garden; however, it spreads quite quickly, so be prepared to harvest it regularly so that it doesn’t totally take over. Alternatively, you can learn how to grow basil in a pot outdoors, so you won’t have to worry as much about upkeep. You’ll just have to water a bit more frequently, as the soil in containers tends to dry out more quickly.
How to Grow the Tastiest Basil Possible
There are two major factors to monitor when learning how to grow the most delicious basil leaves. The first is soil nutrient content. While basil can grow in low-quality soils, this won’t result in flavorful leaves. Making sure your soil is full of organic content like compost and is fertilized regularly with a formula that’s safe for vegetable gardens, your plant’s leaves will be much yummier.
It will also make a big difference in the flavor and quantity of your harvest if you remove flower buds before they bloom. Blooming uses up a lot of your plant’s energy. If you remove those flowers ASAP, your plant can direct all that energy towards growing more fresh, delicious leaves.
If you notice your basil leaves are turning yellow, this may actually be a sign of overwatering, not underwatering. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering your plants to keep them in that sweet spot of not-too-dry, not-too-soggy.
Harvesting and Storing Your Basil
When your basil plants reach up to 6 inches tall, they’re ready for harvest! Harvesting small amounts frequently will actually help your plant to grow more leaves faster. Pinching off the leaves encourages bushier growth, but make sure you don’t remove more than 25% of the leaves at a time, or else you’ll stress out your plant.
It’s best to use fresh herbs as soon as possible to get the most flavor. However, there are plenty of ingenious ways to store them indoors to maintain freshness:
- Freeze freshly picked leaves in a Ziploc bag or sealed container
- Use a food dehydrator to preserve your herbs long-term
- Pulse the leaves in a food processor with some olive oil and freeze them in ice cube trays
- Line a sealed container with a moist paper towel and place the basil leaves on top to keep them fresh for a few extra days in the fridge
3 Basil Recipes For Summer Entertaining
Fresh basil just tastes like summer! If you learn how to grow it, you’ll want to show off your skills in the most appropriate way possible: sharing your delicious harvest with friends and family! Try these simple summer recipes to make use of your amazing herb harvest.
Colorful Tomato Basil Salad Skewers
You’ll love how effortlessly fancy these bite-sized salad appetizers are. They’re perfect for guilt-free, low-carb snacking out on the patio on a hot summer day.
- 2 pints of assorted cherry tomatoes in shades of yellow, red, and purple
- 1 cucumber, sliced into 1-inch chunks
- Fresh basil leaves
- Mini mozzarella balls or cubes of feta
- Prepared balsamic reduction
- Fancy toothpicks
Skewer your tomatoes, cucumbers, basil leaves, and cheese on fancy toothpicks, like mini kabobs. If you’ve got extra large basil leaves, you can fold them in half before you skewer them. Arrange the skewers onto a platter and drizzle with balsamic reduction—a sweeter, syrupy alternative to balsamic dressing that’s perfect for adding a fancy accent to vegetable-based party appetizers.
Strawberry Basil Ice Pops
These flavorful ice pops are both kid and adult-approved! The cool, crisp basil mingles with fresh, tangy strawberry, resulting in a fabulously refreshing treat.
- 2 cups of strawberries, stems removed
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 15 basil leaves
- Ice pop molds
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Fill your ice pop molds and freeze for 4 hours until solid. To easily remove the pops from the mold, hold the plastic mold under warm running tap water for a few seconds.
Sparkling Gin Basil Smash
This effervescent summer cocktail will quench your thirst like no other. You can make a non-alcoholic version, too—just hold off on the gin and use tonic water instead of club soda!
- 12 basil leaves
- 2 oz. dry gin
- 1 oz. fresh key lime juice
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 6 oz. club soda
Muddle the basil leaves, sugar, and lime juice in the bottom of a glass. Add some ice, then pour the gin and soda over top. Garnish with a slice of lime!
Ready to start your summer herb garden? We’ve got plenty of basil plants for sale, as well as many other delicious culinary herbs to complete your kitchen spice collection. If you have any more questions on how to grow basil or other herbs indoors and outdoors, visit Living Color Garden Center! One of our experts will be happy to share with you some more tips and tricks.