Keeping Your Indoor Basil Plants Alive Indefinitely
I always thought growing basil was going to be hard, but even in northwestern Washington, my basil has thrived! In fact, I pretty much tried to kill some of it not that long ago--after keeping several basil plants alive for about 3 years, I stripped off their leaves (pretty much ALL of them) to make pesto. In a couple of days, they were sprouting new leaves. If you get the right variety and follow a few simple steps, these plants are almost annoyingly tenacious. So:
Grow the right variety
I have only grown sweet basil so far, so that's what I'm recommending here, but I have some Italian sprouting right now so I'll get to compare how vigorous these two types are. I've always had a lot of success with sweet basil and it tastes ridiculously good. I always grow from seed and have a high germination rate, but using starts works great too--it's just a little more expensive.
Basil loves sunshine
Probably goes without saying, but you'll want to be sure to keep your basil in a south-facing window or under a grow light. If you're in the temperate latitudes, window-grown basil will get pretty leggy, but it will still produce reasonably well. For northern latitudes, you'll probably want a light.
Pluck off those flowerbuds!
This is the key to keeping your basil alive for a long time: don't let it flower. When it starts flowering, all its energy will go to creating those flowers and their subsequent fruits, and be diverted away from growing those luscious flavorful leaves. So as soon as you see buds, pinch them off, and you'll find yourself with a geriatric basil grove like mine! Also, be sure to use your basil frequently--taking off big leaves makes room for little ones to grow, and encourages growth overall. But not picking enough is not usually the problem people face with such a tasty plant!
More by this Author
Henna gives your hair a rich red color, and it's easy to tweak your mix to get that color exactly where you want it. Find out how to adjust your hair color naturally with everyday kitchen items ranging from paprika to...