Basil is a fragrant herb with a lot of culinary uses. And do you know that basil is one of the most natural herbs to be grown from seed indoors? 

Adequate amounts of sunlight and water are the essential factors in getting your basil to grow quickly.

If you pay attention to the crucial factors your basil seed needs, you can successfully grow it and harvest your plants in just 3 or 4 weeks.

Wanting to have the joy of growing basil all year round? Follow my instruction to know how to grow basil from seed indoors, including sprouting your basil seeds (“tukmaria”), caring for them, and enjoying your fresh basil leaves

High humidity and high-temperature suits well for the development of basil. The long period of drought and frost will be a disadvantage to its growth. Because drought will wither plants and frost will obstruct all physiological processes.

The optimum temperature is 21°C, and the temperature enables plants to grow well is between 10 – 37°C.

So, basil seeds cannot put up with the cold weather and need warm soil to thrive. So, if you live in a warm climate, you can plant basil seeds in your garden with ease in early spring, specifically 1 – 2 weeks after the last frost.

Are you living in a cold area? Then, you should try growing basil seeds indoors (and this article will help you to do it). They will germinate quickly if provided the right conditions.

So, you’d better start to grow your seeds indoors 6 – 8 weeks before the average last frost date in your area.

How To Select High-Quality Seeds

Let’s come with the preparation first – choosing the right seeds. You can buy the basil seeds via online stores, or visit your local nursery or any garden store.

No matter where you buy, you have to ensure that the seed must have the following features:

  • The seed must be true to the gene, having no inert matter or seeds of other varieties.
  • The seed must be uniform in shape & color as specified on the label.
  • It must possess a high germination percentile (Minimum 90%)
  • The seed must be certified from the relevant Seed authorities.
  • Source & Origin must be labeled on the pack.
  • Must be tagged if resistant to specific diseases in any area.
  • The label must contain the name of the variety.
  • The label must have mentioned about the Optimum Moisture level.

How To Grow Basil From Seeds

Step 1

First, you need to prepare the soil.

Fill the plastic container with dry soil. Add water to the soil and mix it until the soil is moist.

If you hate being dirty, you can use a big spoon to mix the soil. However, it is still better to use your hands so that you can check the consistency and moisture of the mixture, especially if this is your first time of growing plants.

If you add too much water and make the soil too wet, add more dry soil until the consistency is right.

Wait, what is the requirement of soil for successful propagation?

The soil with rich organic content or the well aerated and loamy soils with a pH level of 4.5 – 7.5 are suitable for basil to grow. Neutral soils, with the pH 6.5, are best.

Besides, the soils which can retain moisture for a longer time combined with the exposure to direct sunlight for 6 – 8 hours each day are excellent conditions for the growth of your plants.

Step 2

Fill your seed growing pot with the moistened soil from ½ to 1 inch below the top of the top.

When it comes to the pot, there are many options so that you can choose:

Cow pots:

One interesting fact is that these pots are made of cow manure, specifically manure-fiber based material made from composted cow manure.

About the advantage, cow pots can decompose faster than the peat ones as well as provide young plants with an organic fertilizer when they decompose.

Recycled paperboard pots:

Another economically and environmentally friendly solution you should consider!

The bottom of these pots has a hole cut through, and it will tear away before planting. Therefore, it can prevent the seedlings roots from disturbing and make the transition into the garden more manageable. 

Plastic seed starting trays or seed pallets:

These trays are another suitable and affordable solution for home gardeners and hobbyists.

However, do not choose little peat pots. They do not decompose as fast as cow pots, thus exploiting your plant’s growth if you do not remove the pot.

Step 3

It is time to plant a few seeds in each cell or pallet! You can plant extra seeds if you worry a few will not sprout.

Step 4

Cover the seeds gently with a sprinkling of dry soil to the depth as mentioned on the seed packet. 

Do not have the seed packet? So, the main rule is planting seeds to the depth of twice their size.

Step 5

Slightly spray your seeds with the faucet. Water your tray from the bottom instead of the top so that you will not displace the tiny seeds.

Also, the seeds must have good contact with the soil. So, if you expose any seeds while you are spraying, remember to push them back into the soil gently.

Step 6

Cover the seed tray with a plastic lid or dome to keep the soil moist and warm. By doing this, you do not need to water the seed trays again during the germination.

Step 7

Put your seeds tray in a warm location and check it every day. Basil is very quick to grow, so there will be sprouts in 3 or 5 days, depending on your home environment.

Step 8

As soon as you see sprouts, even if only one seed has germinated, take off the dome at once.

It is time to add extra lighting to promote your plant’s growth and make your seedlings not too leggy. 

How To Take Care Of Seedlings

Lighting your Seedlings

As I have mentioned above, basil loves the warm sunlight! So, you have to ensure that your plant will get sunlight from the window for at least 6 hours a day. 

Because you grow basil indoors, it is necessary to add a seedling grow light as an additional source of light. Even an ordinary light bulb that you place close to a single plant will work.

If you are proud of your skill, you can make your own lights by using a cheap fluorescent light fixture and plant grow light bulbs.

So, place your lights a few inches above your plants. When your seedlings grow, adjusting the height of the light.

Young seedlings need special care. In the early growing stages, you need to provide much light so that your plant can be healthy and well-branched. 12 – 16 hours of light is ideal.

Another advice is using an outlet timer to make it easy to give your seedlings 16 hours of light.

For example, if your seedlings can get direct sunlight from the window for 7 hours (from 9 AM to 4 PM), you just need to set your timer to turn your light on for the rest 9 hours, for example, 4 PM to 1 AM.

Watering your Seedlings

You should water your seedlings about twice per week. However, this number can change because of the humidity in your area. For instance, if the top of the soil looks dry, you know you have to water.

Also, remember to water from the bottom. Basil seedlings do not want soggy soil, so do not overwater them. The top of the soil that is too wet can lead to mold growth.

Giving Your Plants Air Circulation

I love breezes, and so do plants. They need air circulation and fresh air to stay healthy. You can run a fan to simulate their natural habitat.

All you need to do is direct a fan to the plants and let it rustle the leaves for about 2 hours each day.

There is only one thing to remember – put the fan on the lowest setting.

Fertilizing Your Plants

Like any herb, basil is not a heavy feeder, so you do not always need to add any fertilizer to the soil.

The plants will enjoy being fed sometimes. It is useful to cover the soil with an organic granular herb fertilizer, and you can also use organic liquid fertilizer once or twice during the summer so that the leaves do not look pale green.

I recommend either an organic compost fertilizer, which you can buy in liquid form or get compost tea bags and brew them. Some of the great organic liquid fertilizers are a fish emulsion or liquid kelp.

Pruning Your Basil Plants

If you do prune your basil plants, you can encourage new leaf growth and keep the plants bushy. This step is also called pinching.

I advise you to pinch off your plants every few weeks. When to start? The first time you should do is when the plant is about 6 inches high and has at least three sets of true leaves.

There is one set on the top and two sets on the sides of the main stem. When the two smaller sets start growing, cut off the stem after a set of leaves.

But remember, I do not count the first set of leaves – they are seed leaves and will fall off when the plants grow. So, the next set of leaves will be true leaves. 

Now you know how to trim basil without wounding them. When the new shoots are about 4 inches, repeat this process on the new stems. You can also use the cuttings for your meal.

Transplanting Your Seedlings

Finally, your plant will outgrow its pot, and you need to move it to a larger pot. Otherwise, your plants will grow unhealthily – they are called rootbound plants.

Because there is not enough soil, these plants cannot get nutrients needed and end up becoming stunted. They are also easily affected by pest infection and common basil diseases.

So, if you begin to grow your plants in a little startling pot, it is essential to transplant them once or twice in their growing stage.

When should you do this? The first time will be after your basil plant has some sets of true leaves. That time you can transplant it to a larger pot with a diameter of 4 – 5 inches.

When the basil continues to grow, you need to transplant one more time so that the plant can reach the maximum growth. And when you see the roots growing out of the drainage holes, you will understand that they need a new pot.

How To Harvest Basil

It is time you are waiting for – harvesting the basil.

When can you start to harvest them? As soon as it has more than six leaves.

And two months after planting, you will have enough basil leaves as an ingredient for your fresh pesto!

And remember to harvest your basil before its flowers. If you see your basil plant starting flowering, you should pinch off the flowers so that you can redirect the energy back to the growing leaves.

How can you harvest them?

If you only need small amounts of basil, you just pick off the leaves. Using your fingers to pinch off the leaves off or scissors to cut them is fine.

Picking off a few leaves will not harm the plant, but do not remove more than a third of the leaves number. Your plant still needs energy to continue growing.

If you want a more considerable amount of leaves, cut off the full stems like the way you prune them. Cut above where two large leaves meet.

By doing this, you preserve your plant for a longer time and encourage a nicer and bushier plant so that it can continue to grow and provide you with more leaves and plants.

In contrast, if you cut the stems below a pair of leaves, you are stopping the stem from growing.

To Sum Up

If you had not grown any herbs before but still loved gardening, you should consider growing basil.

Basil is one of the most natural herbs to grow from seeds, and you can grow many varieties of basil. Besides, you have already known about how to grow them.  

Start putting your seeds into the soil! I hope you will be successful and harvest your first basils.

Thank you for reading.