Growing Holy Basil: The Complete Guide

Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is a very special plant.

This herb is a very important symbol in the Hindu religion.

And it’s also one of the most important medicinal herbs in Indian traditional medicine.

According to VeryWellHealth.com, holy basil has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties.

So, growing and consuming holy basil is very rewarding.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about growing holy basil.

Growing Holy Basil: The Growing Conditions

Soil

Although this herb can grow in different types of soil, you should avoid growing it in a medium that traps a lot of water.

For that reason, it’s always necessary to grow holy basil in well-drained soil.

The soil should also be neutral with a pH ranging between 6 and 7.

Besides that, the soil must be rich in nutrients.

If you’re growing the plant in containers, use high-quality potting soil, such as the famous Foxfarm soil.

Foxfarm potting soil is well-drained, neutral, and abundant in nutrients, so it’s just perfect for holy basil.

Water

You should water holy basil moderately.

If you’re growing the herb in your outdoor garden, you need to water it whenever the first few inches of soil become dry.

You’ll need to water the plant more frequently if you’re growing it in pots.

In fact, you might need to water holy basil once or twice each day when the weather is very hot to prevent it from becoming dehydrated.

Read more about how often to water herbs.

Light

All basil plants love the sun, and this herb is no exception.

Holy basil thrives in full sun (6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day).

The plant can also grow in partial sun (4 to 6 hours of sunlight per day), but it will be less productive.

growing holy basil

If you can’t give the plant the minimum amount of sunlight it needs, you can use artificial light (grow lights) to address the deficiency.

We recommend Roleadro LED strips for that purpose.

Those LED grow light strips are very inexpensive, and they work great as supplemental lighting for full-sun herbs.

Temperature (Climate)

Holy basil likes warm climates.

In fact, the optimal temperature for most basil plants is between 72.5°–82.4°F (24°–28°C).

Holy Basil is also intolerant to cool weather and frost.

So, if you’re growing the plant outdoors, keep an eye on the weather.

Your holy basil will be prone to damage or death whenever the temperature drops to below 43°F (approximately 6°C).

Nutrition

In most cases, the amount of nutrients present in the soil is enough to keep your herb growing for a long time.

But, if you need to improve the yield of your holy basil, you can use fertilizers.

We recommend using organic fertilizers instead of synthetic ones.

Make sure not to use excessive amounts of any fertilizer or soil amendment (even if it’s natural) because that can change the texture of the soil.

Again, fertilizers aren’t necessary for holy basil, especially if you’re using a rich soil, such as Foxfarm.

Growing Holy Basil: Important Tips

Pruning

Pruning basil is a very important task.

To promote fresh growth, you need to keep your plant in shape.

Also, most basil plants, including holy basil, will develop a bitter taste if they’re allowed to flower.

growing holy basil

So, prune your holy basil regularly.

Holy basil is pruned just the same as common basil.

Learn about cutting back basil here.

Pest and Disease Management

Holy basil is not prone to attack by many insects or pests; but, it can be affected by several diseases.

The herb is susceptible to powdery mildew and root rot. These two diseases are caused by fungal infections.

You can prevent them by maintaining sanitary conditions around your plants.

That means you must avoid getting the soil too wet.

Also, always prune the plant to prevent the over crowdedness of stems and leaves.

And if you’re growing the plant indoors, keep the air flowing around it.

Harvesting

You can harvest your holy basil on demand.

You can harvest few leaves from your plant whenever you want to prepare a tea or season a dish.

Don’t harvest more than you need so you keep consuming fresh leaves.

If you’re growing holy basil in your outdoor garden, cut it back to the ground before the weather gets too cold.

You can then dry or freeze the harvested leaves.

Freezing holy basil is better than drying it because it can preserve the herb’s flavor more effectively.

Propagating Holy Basil

Growing holy basil from seed

It’s very easy to grow holy basil from seeds.

But you need to use high-quality seeds to do so. Here are some of the best holy basil seeds on Amazon.

Sow the seeds half an inch (1cm) deep in a moistened seed-starting mix.

You can also use normal potting soil instead of a seed-starting mix.

To prevent damping off, make sure that the place where you’re propagating the seeds is well-ventilated.

Holy basil seeds love warm weather and high humidity.

It takes around one to two weeks for the seeds to germinate.

Seedlings need a lot of light to grow properly or else they will become spindly.

The seedlings should be around 5 weeks old before they’re transplanted to the garden or container.

Make sure that the seedlings are hardened off before they’re transplanted, or you can easily lose them.

Check this guide on how to harden off seedlings.

Growing Holy Basil from Cuttings

Growing basil from cuttings is even easier than growing it from seed.

First, find a stem at least 4 to 6 inches tall and has no flowering buds.

Immerse the cutting in a glass of water and keep it away from direct sunlight.

Also, don’t forget to change the water every two to three days.

After two weeks or more, you’ll have a fully rooted holy basil cutting.

The hardest part is transplanting the cutting because it can die without proper acclimatization.

You need to harden off the cuttings directly after planting them.

Keep your cuttings in the dark for at least 24 to 48 hours after you transplant them.

Since you will most likely propagate the cuttings indoors, they will grow sensitive to fluctuations in weather.

So, don’t expose your rooted cuttings to harsh weather at once.

Final Thoughts

Holy basil is very similar to other basil plants.

If you already have experience with growing common basil, you’ll find it easy to grow and care for holy basil.

And even if you never grew basil before, holy basil is considered a low-maintenance plant.

Enjoy growing and consuming your holy basil and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Blogger, Gardener | + posts

I'm Jad, a biologist, blogger, and experienced indoor gardener. I am knowledgeable in plant biology, particularly in plant cultivation and propagation. I founded HerbsWithin.com in 2019 to share my knowledge in indoor gardening with passionate home growers.

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