Basil plant in a potHow long do basil plants live, and the different factors that affect this herb’s lifespan and life cycle are the topics that will be tackled in this article.

You will be happy to learn that this plant, native to Southeast Asia, thrives in warm and tropical environments and commonly lives up to five to six months if properly looked after. 

Basil plants grow at an incredibly fast rate when the conditions are just right. In this extensive guide, you will discover how long a basil plant lives, the usual lifespan of a basil plant, stages in its lifecycle, whether you can grow basil plants indoors, how well basil grow as houseplants, and if their growth recurs annually.

How Long Do Basil Plants Live and Grow?

Basil plants only live to be approximately five to six months old, even in the most optimal conditions. In cooler climates not suitable for basil, particularly if it is not kept indoors, the lifespan will be shortened even more.

Want to know how to create the optimal conditions for your basil plants to grow? We’ve got you covered in the next section.

Conditions That Impact Basil Lifespan

The environment in which a basil plant is grown plays the single most important role in determining its lifespan. While its exact origins are relatively unknown, it is thought to originate from India, China or Thailand — each of which has hot and humid climates that receive multiple seasons of monsoon weather throughout the year.

When you plant basil, all you have to do is recreate these conditions indoors and your basil will thrive!

– Watering

Because this is a tropical plant, your basil needs a lot of water to stay healthy. A good practice is to water your basil at least two to three times per week; make sure one of these waterings seeps right down to the roots of the plant.

If your plant is kept in a planter or a plot, bottom watering is a great consideration.

– Planted in Pots vs. In the Ground

Basil that is growing in the ground or in pots needs less water than those in clay or natural terracotta pots or planters. In the case of the former, a slight watering does the trick, in the latter, larger water quantities are required.

The way to water basil is simple, avoid the basil leaves as much as possible and focus on wetting the soil instead. This is because droplets on leaves can lead to your plant becoming infected; mold or mildew can start to grow on the leaves, or they may be scorched.

– Temperature

The best temperature for basil is 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 to 32 degrees Celsius. Keeping the plant at the higher ends of the above-mentioned temperature ranges will give you better-quality essential oils that will have a more potent aroma.

– Lighting

For basil to grow properly, its lighting needs to be abundantly present. For best results, make sure your plant is getting up to six hours of unfiltered, direct sunlight per day.

Don’t worry if you cannot ensure sunlight access for all six hours, this plant can endure shade for certain periods as well.

– Soil Condition

Since this plant is native to Southeast Asia, it produces the best results when it is grown in soil that matches that of SE Asia . The soil in these areas, a light compost mix, is not relatively nutrient-rich and has great draining properties.

Experts at the University of Minnesota agee that the most optimal pH level for soil is about 6.5, but slight variations in the pH can be endured by basil.

Basil Plant Life Cycle: An Explanation

Here is what happens during a basil plant’s life cycle.

– Phase One: Germination Begins

Basil seeds take up to seven to ten days to sprout after being sowed into the soil. Keep in mind that if your soil conditions are cooler, this timeframe may be prolonged considerably — approximately by two weeks.

– Phase Two: True Leaves Start to Show

You will start to see the first few true leaves within two weeks to almost 20 days after germination, or three to five weeks after planting the basil plant.

– Phase Three: Basil Can Now Be Transplanted

In the third phase of its life cycle, you can now transplant the seedlings. Make sure you see two to three true leaves, and the plant height is approximately six inches tall. This phase usually begins within six weeks of Phase One.

– Phase Four: Pruning and Harvesting

In phase four, you can begin to harvest basil after it has produced four to six leaves. Usually, this phase kicks in a little over two months after Phase One.

The best part is that when you are pruning and harvesting basil, the product you currently have is edible. It will do you well to pluck about two leaves off the plant once two or three sets of leaves have grown. The density of your bush depends on the amount of pruning and harvesting you do.

– Phase Five: Bolt

When the plant is about five to six months old or when the temperature starts to cool, the plant begins to seed out. There are two possible outcomes at this stage: the plant will either bolt or you will see basil flowers.

– Phase Six: Maturity and Death

Once the plant has flowered and seeded out, its leaves will start turning yellow and it will begin to wither and die. This phase occurs immediately after the plant turns five months old if you keep it indoors.

If you keep your basil outdoors, it will die after turning six months old.

To keep your basil plant alive, it is essential for the plant to be kept away from cold harsh weather. Also, ensure the plant receives ample sunlight and water, or else it may die a premature death.

 

Do Basil Plants Get Old?

When compared to many other houseplants or garden species, basil plants do not have a particularly long lifespan. As you have already learned, even when you provide the most optimal conditions for the basil to grow, it will only last for about half a year.

If you want your plant to repeatedly grow and stick around, re-sow the seeds from previous lifespans or keep cultivating your basil through regular cuttings.

Will Basil Live Longer if Kept Indoors?

Even if you keep basil indoors and provide it with the best environment to grow in, the maximum age it will live is still five to six months. Basil is an annual plant, and it cannot be perennial even if kept indoors and taken good care of.

The good news is this plant grows quite fast, is easy to maintain, is easy to propagate, and turns out new leaves at an incredibly fast rate.

If Kept Indoors, Is Basil Perennial?

When kept indoors, a basil plant’s lifespan drastically increases to five to six months, but that’s still not long enough for anyone who would prefer perennial plants. When planted outdoors, basil will last, at most, for as little as three to five months.

If you are planning to keep your plant indoors, it is essential to make sure the plant has access to plenty of sunlight. Find a spot in your house or workspace that gets a considerable amount of sun but is not windy.

Pro tip: Basil thrives in hydroponic gardens, so if that is something you have access to, make sure you incorporate it into your plant care and management.

Does Basil Grow Back Every Year?

This is slightly different for different basil varieties, as there are non-perennial and perennial basil varieties.

– Non-Perennial Basil Varieties 

The most common basil planted in homes, sweet basil, does not grow back annually. However, if propagated regularly and properly, sweet basil is a known seed producer.

This means that while the plant you plant now will not last you a year, you can keep growing basil by sowing the seeds of the previous plant. It’s like every six months, your basil will be replaced by their own offspring.

Both outdoor and indoor sweet basil plants spread well. This is especially true if the indoor plant is left alone. When untouched, sweet basil may birth many new basil plants by seeding out.

– Perennial Varieties of Basil

While relatively less known, there are other varieties of this plant that can be considered perennial. Examples of such varieties include Thai Basil or Purple Basil. These variations of basil can stick around in your garden for two, three, and sometimes even four seasons.

Most varieties of basil are often regarded as summer herbs. In reality, there are certain perennial ones that can grow all year round and last for multiple seasons.

Some of the most commonly found perennial basil species include:

– Greek Columnar Basil

This variety of basil can often grow up to 30 inches in height and an impressive 24 inches in width. This basil is easier to cultivate because it has a habit of growing upright, which also makes it a great option for small-sized gardens.

The leaves of greek columnar basil are chock-full of flavor and aroma, so they make a great seasoning option for your soup, pizzas, pasta or pesto!

– Pink Perennial Basil

Another one on the list of perennial basil, this variety can grow to an incredible height of up to 60 inches and a whopping 40 inches in width.

As the name suggests, pink perennial basil has leaves that are slightly hairy and have a pink or purplish hue to them. In the summers, the bush of this variety is shrouded by its beautiful pink flowers.

When watered well and regularly, the leaves of this basil plant are some of the most succulent and enjoyable leaves to consume. The most common use of this basil is in food recipes because of the strong fragrance. This plant’s leaves can also be added to many of your favorite Italian dishes, soups, stews and even mayonnaise!

– White Perennial Basil

Most of the properties, including growth habits, of this plant are very similar to those of pink perennial basil.

The main point of difference is that the leaves of white perennial basil are much softer and much bigger than the pink basil. Moreover, instead of pink flowers, its flowers are white. The uses of this variety of basil are also similar to the pink perennial basil.

Uses and Benefits of Basil

Most varieties of basil are used in cooking not only for the amazing aroma they lend to the food but also for their countless other health benefits.

Some of the most prominent health benefits of basil leaves include:

  • Promotes digestion
  • Provides anti-inflammatory properties
  • Combats free radical activity in your body
  • Provides numerous skin benefits
  • Good for cognitive well-being
  • Assists in managing diabetes
  • Supports liver function
  • Helps get rid of the toxins in your body
  • Promotes better gut health

Conclusion

a close look of Basil plantBasil can be a great addition to the array of plants in your home or garden because it is great at livening up your space and produces edible results that offer excellent benefits for your health and wellbeing.

While it is not a perennial herb, basil can have longer lifespans when taken care of diligently and grown under the right conditions — warm and humid climates work best for all varieties of basil.

  • Basil plants need plenty of water, but only for the soil.
  • Warm temperatures at 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit are perfect for the basil plant.
  • Six hours of sunlight is the ideal lighting requirements for this herb.
  • Give your basil plant compost mixed soil with a pH level of about 6.5.

Some varieties of basil may be perennial, but they are not edible. With enough love and care, you can save your basil from premature death and have your favorite plant stick around for much longer!

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