There is nothing quite like growing your own basil and having your own stock of aromatic leaves for tasty homemade pestos.
Basil is also easy to grow, makes an excellent companion plant, and keeps bad bugs away from your other plants and flowers.
But for how long will you get to pick and enjoy those sweet, aromatic, and savory leaves?
How Long Will A Basil Plant Live?
The lifespan of a basil plant will vary to some degree depending on its type and growing conditions, but basil is an annual plant and most varieties won’t live for longer than about nine months, even in the best conditions.
Basil tends to live longer if it’s grown in the ground rather than in a pot; it will often live about six months in the ground, whereas it tends to die off after around four months in a pot.
Some types of basil can live for longer than a year, but basil which bolts (flowers) or basil which is grown in a cold climate is likely to die quickly.
Taking care of your basil properly and understanding how it’s growing can help prolong its life.
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The Life Cycle Of Basil
There are three distinct stages to a basil’s life, and if you’re interested in how long a basil plant lives, it may be useful to know about them.
This is when the plant is most useful to humans.
It has plenty of leaves, reaches its full height, and is easy to harvest.
At this point, you can harvest plenty of leaves, provided the plant still has enough to grow from.
At this point, the plant’s leaf-production will slow down, and it won’t have many leaves.
Harvesting is harder and you might want to have fresh plants growing to replace your older ones.
Here, the plant is getting ready to reproduce.
It will burst into flowers and stop producing leaves.
You might want to harvest the seeds which follow the flowers so you can replant the basil and keep growing some tasty additions to your dinners!
How Do I Keep My Basil Plant Alive?
You’re probably already aware that different plants like different conditions.
Providing the right sort of conditions for basil will help your plant grow better and last longer, so it’s important to think about what it needs and how you can provide it.
And a happy plant equals more basil leaves for you!
It can be difficult to predict the exact time frame for your basil plant’s survival but it usually dies off when temperatures drop too low.
However, it is possible for a basil plant to live year-round as long as it’s not allowed to bolt (flower).
When it flowers it shuts down, stops growing, and goes from growth mode to reproduction mode.
In all likelihood, basil kept indoors should continue to live as long as it’s looked after, watered properly, and not exposed to temperatures that are too hot or cold.
Bolting is triggered by extreme conditions that make the plant think winter is coming and it’s about to die.
If you remove the conditions that trigger flowering, the basil plant may live for years.
How To Extend The Life Of Your Basil Plant
In general, if you want to extend the life of your basil plant, you’ll need to really look after the following elements of its care.
Think first about the position of the basil.
Many people underestimate how important light is to plants, even though we know how much plants depend on sunlight.
Basil comes from hot regions and is a particularly serious sun-lover.
You should put your plant somewhere sunny, where it can get about 6-8 hours of full sunlight every day if possible.
It’s thought that good, strong sun improves the flavor of the leaves, and it will certainly keep your plant happy!
Soil And Watering
Basil likes really rich soil; it needs something to turn into all that delicious flavoring, after all!
It also doesn’t like having wet roots, especially overnight, so it’s important to provide it good drainage.
Adding a bit of grit to the compost may help you avoid water-logging your plant.
If you’re growing basil in a pot, make sure it has drainage holes and try to water in the morning rather than in the evening if possible.
Depending on how much sun it’s getting, water your basil plant every 1 or 2 days and allow it to dry a little between waterings.
But try to keep its soil consistently moist. (But never soggy)
Remember, over-watering is one of the biggest killers of household plants.
Watch For Pests
Another life-shortening hazard when it comes to growing basil is that it’s not just humans who find it tasty.
Lots of creatures like to munch up the tender leaves, and aphids are a particularly persistent pest.
If your basil is in a pot, dunking it in a sink full of soapy water and washing the aphids off is a simple solution and one that will help your basil plant to live longer.
If you’re growing basil in the ground, you can spray soapy water on the plants and wipe the aphids away with a cloth.
Washing up liquid is a good option but try not to use more than you need.
It’s usually the case that less is more when it comes to putting anything man-made on your plants.
Attract Natural Predators
You can also try to encourage natural predators, such as ladybirds.
If your issue is with pests of the slimier variety, like snails or slugs, you might want to try copper tape or a barrier of eggshells for nice, green ways to keep them at bay.
It can also help to lift your basil plant up, away from ground level and hungry mouths, so you may want to keep it elevated.
Does Basil Die Every Year?
Most varieties of basil, including sweet basil, are annuals and will die every year.
However, there are some hardier varieties that can live longer.
Interestingly, a new variety of basil has been created from a couple of other species to be the very first non-stop basil plant.
This newly formulated basil plant has enhanced tolerance to drought and pests and goes by the name of “Long Foot Basil“.
It could be described as a tree-like plant with a solid trunk and ball-shaped head.
It also grows to be loaded with tasty basil leaves just right for the picking and lives far longer than your average basil plant.
Caring for your basil plant and helping it to live longer gives you the maximum enjoyment for your hard work.
By providing the right conditions and keeping your basil safe from common pests, you’ll reap more benefits and have plenty of lovely tomato and basil meals to munch on.