Growing basil in pots. They are frost tender plants so October to February are ideal months for planting. If growing from seed, cover the seeds with seed-raising mix to roughly three times the diameter of seeds. The seedlings will emerge in about 7 days. Thin out the weaker seedlings. If starting with plants, then take care to not damage the roots during transplanting as they are very sensitive to damage. When I buy a punnet of basil plants from the garden centre, I prefer to not break apart the entwined roots.
Growing basil in pots is easy.They like 6-8 hours of sunshine per day but are also OK with dappled sunlight in summer. As they like well drained soil but don’t like going without water they are a perfect choice for growing in GreenSmart Pots TM.
The plants will quickly go to seed if stressed by lack of water.
If you shift the pot into a warm position in the house in late autumn the plants will keep producing through the winter.
The best soil temperatures for basil are 18-35 deg. C
The optimum pH for the soil is 5.8- 6.5
Be sure to pinch out the flower heads to encourage the plant to produce more leaves. They are a ‘pinch and come again’ crop so keep on picking leaves as they develop. The faster growing leaves have the best flavour.
We are spoilt for choice – Sweet, Italian, Greek, Lemon, Purple, Thai, Cinnamon, Cambodian, Laos basils are all available.
Try this website for Italian basil seeds in NZ
Fertilisers for growing basil in pots
Use a good organic fertiliser at the time of planting out. You can also add additional liquid fertiliser (eg liquid sea weed) into the water sight glass every 4 to 6 weeks. Yellow leaves are indicative of nutrient deficiency or cold conditions.
If your plants develop holes in the leaves it is most likely to be slugs (check at night) Leave a small piece of cardboard under the plants. If slugs are around they will probably stay under the cardboard during the day, making it easy for you to remove them. Sweet Basil can be vulnerable to wilting …Fusarium wilt. Remove the whole plant and start again.
Avoid splashing water onto the leaves as it encourages mildew and fungal growth on the leaves.
You may find the plants become infested with white-fly or aphids. Check them regularly – if the infestation isn’t too advanced you may be able to wash off the pests. Some gardeners recommend spraying with a mixture of dish washing liquid and water. If that doesn’t work just throw out the plants, wash the pot and buy another punnet.
As on the plate, basil goes well with tomatoes. Try growing basil under other fruiting plants that are prone to bug damage. It seems that the strong scent confuses or repels the bugs.