How to Grow Basil Indoors From Seed

Updated on May 7, 2019
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Katy's garden of herbs, peppers and greens is constantly expanding as she learns new techniques and tries new plants!

Indoor basil grows best under lights.
Indoor basil grows best under lights. | Source

Growing Basil Indoors

Did you know basil can grow indoors? Very often, when it gets too cold, we just let them die. During the winter, they can thrive inside. Even during the summer, it's nice to have some plants inside.

The trick is to get the plant enough sunlight. That's where many beginner gardeners fall short with their basil plants.

Learn how to grow super healthy basil plants inside your house. You can start them from seed or take cuttings from outside plants before it gets too cold.

How to Keep Basil Alive Indoors

Basil can grow really well all year round. There's a few important techniques to use to make basil grow well indoors.

How Much Light?

Basil isn't super demanding about light, but it does need to get enough. These herbs will need a sunny window that gets at least eight hours of sun a day. And, they can handle a little bit more.

If you don't have the sun exposure for a regular eight hours a day, consider getting a grow light. When using lights make sure the tops of the leaves are within a couple inches of the light. Any further, and the basil will put all its energy into growing taller, not producing healthy leaves.

How Much Water?

It's easy to over water basil. This can be dangerous because its roots will start to rot. Root rot is almost impossible to recover from.

If you're not sure about when to water, a good rule of thumb is to let them just start to wilt before giving them water. Another way to gauge it is to feel the first inch of soil. Once the first inch is dry, it's time to water again.

Start From Seed

Basil plants are fun to start from seeds. They sprout quickly and are easy to keep healthy.

I recommend using a grow light when starting from seeds. Even a very sunny window will be too stressful for your basil seedlings.

Let the seedlings grow until they have at least two true leaves. Then you can transplant them into their final pots.

Go ahead and plant your seedlings close together. Basil doesn't mind extra density and they actually help support each other.

Propagate Basil From Cuttings

You can also take basil cuttings and create new plants. Gardeners call this "propagation." It gets you a mature plant much faster than starting from seed because you skip the first 6-8 weeks of the plants life.

For best propagation results, select basil stalks that are sturdy and long for cuttings. Make sure you take a cutting from a plant that hasn't flowered yet.

Put your cuttings in vases or jars of water until roots form. Change out the water every 1-2 days until plants are ready. This should take 1-2 weeks.

Now these cuttings can go directly into pots with soil. They're usually still pretty fragile at this stage so make sure they have great sun, consistent temperature and a solid watering schedule.

Basil grows great in pots indoors or outside!
Basil grows great in pots indoors or outside! | Source

Potting Basil Plants

Basil plants take naturally to pots so there's not much to worry about. Pick a pot that will give the roots enough room. Basil does well in medium sized pots. You can get some basil to do well in small pots but you really need to keep up on watering.

A large pot will be easier to maintain because more soil means more moisture so missing a week of watering won't kill the herb.

Make sure the soil has good drainage. This will keep the water from sitting in the pot and causing the roots to rot. All basil pots need holes in the bottom with a drip tray.


How you prune your basil plant is super important. And it's an aspect of growing basil indoors that many people get wrong without realizing it.

Harvest Regularly

First thing to know about pruning is that you have to do it for your herb to be healthy. Many people only harvest basil leaves when they need them. But if that's sparingly then you're robbing your plant of a chance to really grow.

The growth of a mature herb depends on how much the plant is cut back. So whether you plan to use the herbs immediately or not make sure you prune it whenever it reaches above a bush shape.

Prune from the Top

Most of the cutting should be done on the taller stalks. You want to force the plant to grow out instead of up.

Prune Above a Node

The point where the stalks split are called nodes. Just above that is where you want to prune.

Basil plants will grow two shoots to replace the one you snipped if you cut above a node. So for a full, bushy basil plant cut right above the node.

Basil Care

The most important things to remember about indoor basil care are:

  • Don't over water!
  • Give them enough sunlight
  • Prune them from the top regularly

That's all there is to it! Now you have everything you need to grow some amazing basil plants indoors.

How Do You Use Basil?

What dishes do you use basil in? How do you keep the basil plants alive all year round?

Share with us below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Katy Medium


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