Sowing, growing and harvesting basil (Sweet Genovese)

Watch our animated guides to sowing, growing and harvesting your basil seeds.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions


May to June - Sow, sow, sow

Fill a small pot or pots with moist multipurpose compost. Sprinkle your seeds thinly (about 10 seeds per pot) and cover with a very fine layer of compost. Place your pots on a warm windowsill. Keep the soil moist but not too wet as the seeds can rot. Seedlings should appear after one or two weeks.

Late May to June - Plant out

After about five weeks your seedlings should be ready to be transferred into individual pots. Tease them out, holding the leaves very carefully so you don't damage the roots, before potting up separately into small pots. Your basil can now be left indoors all summer or planted outside.

Growing your basil outside?

First harden the plants off by standing them outside during the day and bringing them in at night for a fortnight. Their final home needs to be a sunny, sheltered spot. Basil in a pot needs regular feeding - use a general-purpose liquid feed. Water little and often, nip out the tips and remove any flower buds that appear. This will help the plant grow strong and leafy.

July to September

Pick the leaves as soon as they're big enough to use. Be careful not to pick off whole shoots as the plant will take longer to start producing leaves again. It's a good idea to have several plants growing at the same time so your plants don't get over-picked.

PDF about this veg

Download full instructions on growing your basil

How to download Adobe Acrobat Reader for PDF files

Skip to top

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.