Finding Right Site For Basil
Sweet basil is a tender annual which means it is very sensitive to frost, which blackens its tissues and kills its roots outdoors in the fall.
Light requirements - Basil prefers full sun for 6 to 8 hours a day. However, it will tolerate only three or four hours if it must.
Soil Requirements - Outdoors, basil likes a rich, moist, well-drained soil, though it will tolerate medium to poor soil. Any soil with a reasonable amount of organic material worked into it will take good care of basil.
Growing From Seed
While basil is easily started from seed, it is also readily available as seedlings at many garden centers throughout the entire year. However, if you wish to start basil from seed in the spring, start it indoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last frost typically happens in your area. Then transplant the seedlings outside 2 to 4 weeks after the final frost of the winter when the soil has begun to warm up. Seedlings should have 4 to 6 weeks to grow before being transplanted outdoors.
To start seed outdoors directly in the soil, wait one to two weeks after all danger of frost is past and when the soil temperatures is over 50F. Plant the seeds 1/8 inches deep. Sow very thinly since the ultimate spacing will be about 12 inches apart. the seeds should germinate in 3 to 7 days. Thin to 12 inches after the plants are two or three inches high.
Plant basil seedlings purchased at the garden center or nursery or those you've started indoors as soon as danger of frost is past and the soil is warm. Choose young plants that are bushy and dark green. Plant on an overcast day, or later in a sunny day so that the seedlings are shielded from hot sun while they get established.
Growing Basil In Containers
Basil is ideal for container growing. Use a container at least 8 inches wide and 12 inches deep. Be sure it has drainage holes. Use only a soilless mix in the container. Fertilize containerized basil monthly with a dilute liquid fertilizer . once a month or so
Indoors it will grow adequately in a south facing window, if its container is rotated a quarter turn each week to keep the plant uniformly shaped. Basil grows well under fluorescent lights, one warm and one cool set at 2 to 4 inches above the plants. It will also thrive under high intensity halide or sodium lights. In artificial light situations, basil needs 14 to 16 hours of light a day, best managed with an automatic time device. See Choosing Containers. Also see Growing Plants In Containers.
Growing Basil Hydroponically
Basil is particularly well suited to hydroculture. Regardless of the hydroponic system used, basil thrives in a medium strength nutrient solution with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. In a hydropoinic environment, basil plants can be placed as close as six inches to each other without serious competition problems. Basil roots easily in a hydroponic system for transplant into the garden, into another container, or into another hydroponic device. It thrives under high intensity halide or sodium lights but will do fine under fluorescent lights. In artificial light situations, basil needs 14 to 16 hours of light a day, best managed with an automatic time device.