Basil ( Ocimum basilicum ) is an annual aromatic plant native to Iran, India, Pakistan and other tropical regions of Asia. It is a widely cultivated plant due to its uses in gastronomy as a dressing in certain foods and, in addition, it provides vitamin A, B vitamins and certain bioelements. It can be grown from seeds or cuttings.
And given all the benefits that we have just explained to you, in this article we want to explain and talk to you about the cultivation of basil and the care of basil in a pot.
How and when to sow basil
The first thing to sow the basil is to buy an envelope of seeds or cuttings (if we have not saved from other years). There are varieties with small leaves, large leaves and even purple leaves, a single envelope of seeds will be enough, since basil is a plant that germinates very well and very quickly . It is not necessary to sow a single variety, we can even mix them.
The best time to sow it is in late winter or early spring , in order to be able to enjoy this plant for most of the year, since it is an annual plant that dies in autumn with the arrival of low temperatures.
The first thing to sow the basil, will be to prepare the seedlings . The plant can be sown in a pot, in a planter or on a tray of alveoli. In this case, the pot must have at least 12 centimeters in diameter to prevent the plants from germinating too close together. If we do it, instead, on a tray of alveoli, the size should be at least 3 or 4 centimeters.
For sowing, the most recommended substrate is a substrate for seedlings or for indoor plants . We must fill the container without weighing it down and water it abundantly. Sowing consists of depositing the seeds in the seedbed and watering them carefully, preventing the water from displacing or burying them. The distance between the seedlings should be at least two centimeters, to avoid competition for light.
The cultivation of this plant can be done starting from seeds or cuttings. Starting from seeds , the steps are:
- Prepare the seedlings using moistened vegetable mulch and put one or two seeds per seedbed covering it with the substrate
- Cover the seedbed with plastic wrap so that our soil is kept with adequate humidity and place it next to a window where it receives the sun. It is necessary to maintain a degree of humidity, spraying it with water once or twice a day.
- Once the first leaves appear, we can remove the plastic, but it must continue to be moistened until the plants have developed a few centimeters. At this time we can transplant them to the final plants.
Also, we can grow new basil plants starting from cuttings from other plants. The cuttings are the branches that are born from the main stem. In this case, we would introduce the cuttings in a container with water or with a natural rooting agent that we can make, for example, with lentils. When the cuttings have already developed roots, we can transplant them to the final pot.
Basil plant care
Basil is a plant that requires a high amount of watering throughout its cultivation. If you do not have enough water, the plant runs the risk of dehydration and failure to develop. To carry out the irrigation, we must keep the soil always moist but without it getting waterlogged. A solution for this is to make some holes in the bottom of the pot to facilitate its drainage. The plant should be watered every day , better in small amounts a couple of times, to prevent the soil from drying out during the hottest period.
It is also recommended to cut the stems and pull out the weeds to aerate and soften the soil. The topping will be done by cutting the upper stems to encourage more stems to come out and the plant to be more leafy. As basil is an annual plant that dries and dies once it has flowered at the end of the cycle, the flower buds should be cut at the end of the stems and this time delayed.
In case we want to keep basil seeds for other years, we can let one of its flowers grow and collect its seeds, towards the end of the cultivation.