Why is my basil wilting? you are wondering. The most common cause of basil wilting is because of dry soil. As you know, basil is an herbaceous plant native to temperate climates – basil usually requires moist soil and frequent watering, especially during hot weather.
The inability to provide this balance and its ideal growing conditions causes your basil leaves to wilt.
- Why Is My Basil Wilting? 7 Common Reasons
- How Can You Easily Stop Wilting? 7 Strategies
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is My Basil Wilting? 7 Common Reasons
Your basil is wilting due to seven common reasons: watering problems, a too small container, diseases, pest infestation, flowering, transplant shock, changes in temperature, and lack of regular pruning. One of these reasons might be bothering your basil plant, making it ill.
We also include each solution to every problem there is so you can fix it on your own and stop worrying about your basil plant. Though wilting leaves are a common problem with this plant, it is not difficult to overcome and bring your basil back to vigorous health as it once was.
Let’s discuss the solutions one by one to help you identify if your plant is suffering from any of them. It is important to know your plant’s growing condition to avoid these problems from happening in the future.
1. Watering Incorrectly
Just the same as any other plant, watering amount and frequency are crucial to your basil plants. Basil is adapted to thrive in moist but well-draining soil. As mentioned above, the most common reason why your basil wilts is because of dry soil. This means that you are not giving it enough water or not watering it as frequently as it needs. Your basil leaves are turning yellow, browning, and will soon wilt because of underwatering.
However, in some cases, it is either you may be giving it too much water or overwatering, thus causing your basil plant drooping, wilting, and curling, with the leaves eventually falling off the plant. Another possibility is that your basil may produce small flowers because the roots are drowning due to lack of oxygen.
2. Planted in Too Small Pot
Another reason why your basil plant is wilting is that its roots do not have enough room to grow. This occurs when it is planted in a too small container or you bought it from a garden center where it was planted in a small pot. Basil roots may be constricted, which keeps them from absorbing water and nutrients, resulting in the wilting of the leaves.
Though basil mostly grows in all kinds of containers or pots that ensure that it has a good drainage system, pots that are too small cause the soil to dry out quickly, especially during hot days, as basil plants tend to prefer full sun exposure. Small pots can also hold less moisture because they can only take a small amount of soil and will easily dry out.
3. Pest Infestation
Your basil plant is wilting and struggling to thrive possibly because of pest infestation. The common pests that attack your basil are aphids and spider mites. Inspect your basil leaves if you notice they are having small white bugs hanging around the leaves, those are the aphids. Meanwhile, spider mites appear to be reddish brown and oval-shaped insects.
These pests both suck the sap from the plant leaves and stems, causing your plant to experience stunted growth and leaves to droop and wilt, while severe infestation causes your plant to die. These pests surely get their way in any kind of plant, not just on your basil, but do not worry because they are not difficult to get rid of.
4. Shock After Transplant
Transplant shock happens when the plant is moved from one location to another and becomes stressed because of the new growing conditions. The leaves wilt because of transplant shock because of the sudden change in humidity, temperature, and watering frequency.
5. Lack of Regular Pruning and Flowering
Pruning does not harm your basil; in fact, it is very beneficial to it and keeps it healthy. If your basil is lacking in regular pruning, what happens is that it produces flowers. However, as basil is commonly grown for its useful and delicious fresh basil leaves, the flower is not the main goal.
Once the basil is in the process of flowering, it will stop producing new leaves, and all of its nutrients will go to seeds, which causes its leaves to wilt, making them unsuitable for culinary use.
6. Diseases of Basil
Diseases are unavoidable when growing basil plants, as basils are also susceptible to some diseases like fusarium wilt, root rot, bacterial leaf spot, and downy mildew. These diseases are considered to be among the common reasons why your basil plant is wilting. Continue reading below, and let us talk about what these diseases are.
Fusarium wilt is a fungal disease that is caused by a soil-borne pathogenic fungus that targets the roots of your basil plant. Having this disease will result in stunted growth and sudden wilting. To know if your plant is suffering from this, look for these signs: internal stem discoloration, shepherd’s crook appearance of the stem, and unexpected leaf fall.
Root rot happens when your basil is overly wet, allowing the fungus to attack the roots of the plant. This causes plant drooping, wilting, yellowing, and browning of the leaves, which will soon be falling off the plant. Aside from the soil fungi, you can also consider overwatering and poor drainage as the reasons why root rot occurs.
Bacterial leaf spot
Bacterial leaf spot disease can also be the reason why basil wilt. The bacteria that attack your plant will make the leaves develop brown angular-shaped lesions, which turn black and eventually wilt and die.
Downy mildew is another disease that results in the wilting of the leaves. This disease also turns leaves to yellow and then brown before it eventually wilts and falls off. You will also notice a gray-purple fuzzy growth on the underside of the leaves.
7. Inappropriate Temperature
Basils are not a fan of sudden changes in temperature. Too hot or too chilly temperature results in wilted basil. Curled leaves and brown edges on the leaves indicate that their preferred temperature was not attained. It is either too hot or too cold for them, which is why your basil wilts.
How Can You Easily Stop Wilting? 7 Strategies
You can easily stop your basil from wilting with seven strategies.
After identifying the problems that might be affecting your basil plant, we want you to know that there are easy ways through which you can fix your basil plant’s wilting.
1. Frequent Watering
To avoid your basil plant wilting, it requires you to keep the soil moist to a depth of one inch by watering them daily during hot weather and watering every three to four days during cooler days. Keep in mind that the goal is to keep the soil moist, not soggy or dry. Attempt to achieve just the right balance.
If you notice that the soil is dry to the touch or if the soil has pulled away from the edge of its container, water it deeply with a generous amount, and keep watering until you see the water flowing from the drainage holes.
Once corrected, wait for at least two to three days, and your basil plant should recover and go back to its normal condition. It is also recommended to use potting soil with porous and friable compost to easily achieve the balance of moisture and a well-draining soil profile. You can also add mulch to the base of the plant to add nutrients and preserve moisture in the soil that prevents your basil plant from wilting.
Remember to water your basil in the mornings so it can withstand a hot day. Water at the base of the plant instead of overhead watering to allow the soil to quickly absorb the water and prevent future diseases and burning the leaves of the plant.
On the contrary, if you think that you are overwatering, you can easily fix that by allowing the soil to completely dry out between waterings. Alternatively, you can check the drainage holes of the pot because in some cases, these holes are blocked and do not allow the water to flow freely.
2. Transplant Into a Larger Pot
It is best to use or transplant your basil into a larger container if you bought them planted in a small pot to help them grow exponentially. Avoid pots made from thin plastic or metal as these materials conduct heat, allowing the soil to evaporate quickly and dry out.
Plant basil using a larger pot with a diameter of at least 12 inches and depth of 4 inches. The pot should ideally be made of terracotta, ceramic, or clay to prevent heating up quickly and regular watering is the best solution to prevent the basil from wilting.
3. Get Rid of Pests
If you notice that your basil plant is wilting and is experiencing pest infestation at the same time, do not worry because these plant-feeding insects are easy to get rid of. For spider mites, kill them by using a mixture of four cups of water and one cup of rubbing alcohol. You can spray the solution on both sides of the leaves to dehydrate spider mites and wipe them off using a paper towel.
For aphids, remove them by spraying the leaves with a mild solution of water and a few drops of dishwashing soap. Try doing this for two to three days in a span of two weeks. You can also use neem oil, essential oils, or insecticidal soaps, as these are proven to be effective when they come in contact with this insect.
4. Overcome Transplant Shock
Ensure that after transplanting, your basil will receive all its care requirements to avoid stress and adapt to its new environment. Expose it to full sun, plant it in moist yet well-draining soil, and ensure that it receives an adequate amount of water. Give your basil some time to adjust and adapt, and it should recover and have a strong root system after at least two weeks.
5. Prune on a Regular Basis
Maintain regular pruning of your basil plant, cutting from the top to encourage bushier leaves as it allows more sunlight to reach lower leaves and make them more productive. Though basil plants are known to last only for a year or less, regular pruning can lengthen their life.
This process can keep your basil healthy so you can enjoy its leaves longer. However, if you notice that it is already going to seed or it seems to be unlikely to recover, you can keep its seeds and grow from seedlings all over again.
6. Treat Diseases
Refer to the steps below to know how you can treat each disease that your basil plant might be experiencing.
Treating fusarium wilt
If you see indications of Fusarium wilt on your basil, remove all the affected leaves and plants. Sadly, once the soil has become infected with Fusarium wilt, your basil is recommended to be destroyed because there is no cure for your plant at all. Pathogens can live in soil for years, so it is better to plant another basil in new fresh soil. You can also consider growing basil varieties that are resistant to this disease, like lemon basil or purple basil.
Treating root rot
Root rot can be overcome by allowing the soil to completely dry out before watering again. Stick your finger on the soil, and water only when you feel that the soil is dry. That applies to the top inch of the soil.
Treating bacterial leaf spot
You can avoid leaf spot disease by watering the plant at the base instead of the leaves. However, if your plant already has a bacterial leaf spot, remove the infected leaves, and throw them away because this disease is highly contagious.
Treating downy mildew
Just like Fusarium wilt, suffering from Downy mildew leaves your basil plant no chance at all. Your basil plant needs to be thrown away. You can consider growing basil varieties that are not prone to this disease, like lemon basil, Thai basil, or purple basil.
7. Adjust Temperature
A stable temperature is a solution to fix the wilting of the leaves caused by sudden changes in temperature. Giving your plant sufficient heat means not allowing it to encounter disease problems and making it sturdier.
Keep your plant in a spot where its desired temperature is achieved because extremely hot temperatures cause the leaves to wilt, whereas too cold temperatures can kill the plant.
Though basil loves heat, make sure that it will not be exposed to direct sunlight for more than six hours a day. If your basil is potted, move it to a shady location during times of extreme heat. Watering it frequently also prevents too much heat by giving your plant consistent moisture.
Frequently Asked Questions
– What Other Reason Is There for a Wilting Basil?
Another reason for a wilting basil is that it has simply come to the end of its life. It could survive for a couple of seasons but it is actually an annual so it dies at the end of its life cycle. It grows, blooms, seeds and then dies.
– Why Would a Hydroponic Basil be Wilting?
A hydroponic basil could be wilting due to lack of nutrients, non-ideal pH, wrong temperature, attack by fungus and humidity levels not being correct. A simple way of alleviating this problem is regular pruning. In that way the plant can transport nutrients to where they are needed most.
Understanding why your basil is wilting will help you to rescue your plant from an untimely end. Wilting can be fixed easily when you follow all the steps we have mentioned above. Let us have a quick look at the key takeaways so you can easily remember them:
- The main reason for your basil wilting is dry soil due to underwatering.
- Get rid of pests and treat diseases as soon as you see the signs.
- Do not allow your plant to flower by pruning it regularly.
- Maintain the required temperature and consistent moisture for your plant to perform best.
- When transplanting, put your basil in a perfect pot, and allow it to have a strong root system.
Achieving the complicated balance of moist soil and direct sunlight that a basil plant requires may be difficult for some, but having fresh and tasty flavor on your dishes is more than enough incentive to make it all worth it.
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