Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow from seeds in Singapore because it is a sun loving plant. From sowing to producing fresh leaves takes a cycle of between 6-8 weeks. If you use a lot of basil, it can work out to be a lot cheaper to grow them from seeds.
Getting Started - Planting Materials
Planter pot/container: Basil love well drained soil so it is important to use a container that provides good drainage. Choose a pot made of any materials - clay, ceramic, PPE, but ensure that there are enough holes at the bottom to drain any access water.
Soil: The best medium to use for your basil seeds is a light potting mix of coco peat and perlite. A light potting mix will allow the roots of your seedlings to grow freely. Fill your container with potting mix, add water, and mix until your soil is just wet enough to hold together in your hand.
Growing from Seeds
If you are sowing directly into your planter pot, sow between 3-4 basil seeds, 10-12cm apart. Cover the pot with a dome or plastic cover (this will help keep the moisture). Basil is quick to germinate in our warm climate. You should see your seeds germinate in 3-4 days. As soon as the seeds have germinated, remove the dome, spray with water, and place them under sunlight with good air circulation.
Three weeks after the seeds germinated
Growing Basil From Cuttings
If you already have a basil plant, you can grow more from cuttings. It's fairly easy to grow from cuttings.
- Find a nice long stem and cut just below the last leaf node.
- Trim off about 5-8cm of leaves from the bottom of the stem.
- Place the trimmed cutting in a clear glass or jar of water and place in a sunny spot. You can propagate several cuttings at once in the same glass.
- Change the water in your glass every other day. The rooting stems need clean, fresh water in order to thrive. If you leave the same water in the glass for too long, the stems are prone to rot.
- Once the roots begin to form, wait until they’ve grown to at least 4-5cm in length (2-3 weeks).
- Be sure to separate the roots carefully when you remove the stems.
When the roots are 4-5cm long, you can transfer your cuttings into a pot. Like growing them from seeds, you'll need a light, well-draining potting mix. Plant your cutting about 10-12cm deep. I like potting at least 3-4 cuttings in one pot.
How To Care For Your Basil Plant
Once your basil has reached the seedling stage, caring for your plant is fairly easy.
1. Basil are sun-loving herbs so make sure they get plenty of sun - at least 4-5 hours. In Singapore, where it tends to get very hot, morning or late afternoon sun is best.
2. Never over water your basil herb. Bottom watering your basil is best as it allows the roots to soak the water and keeps them hydrated.
3. Always keep the basil plant in an area with good air circulation. It will keep your plant healthy and reduce the risk of developing mould.
4. Fertilise your basil with a natural fertiliser like bone meal once every 2 weeks initially during the seedling stage, and then cut back to once every 4 weeks when it has reached it's maximum height.
5. Regular pruning of your basil plant is extremely important because it allows the plant to branch and grow into a bushy pattern rather than tall and lengthy. Start doing this when your plant starts growing about 4-5 sets of leaves. To prune, simply cut the stem right above the leaf node (the point where side shoots emerge).
6. Basil is an annual herb so be sure to replace your basil every year to enjoy maximum flavour.
7. Tomato and basil make great companion plants. They are a perfect pairing not only in growing but delicious as a paired serving as well!
If you've never tried growing your own basil from seeds, there's no time like now!
Excited to chance on this blog, I started planting with basil late May. They didnt grow much, very slow. Somehow I cut some leaves for salad beginning of Oct. Started to enjoy fruit of labour. I am really a beginner – what fertilizer in supermarket is good, especially my family is eating the leaves? How often?
My Thai Basil leaves curl up like a ball. How to tell is overwater or insects attack ?
Should i water every day or every 2-3 days ?
What type of soil should i use for thai basil ?
Thank you for setting up this blog! It’s really helpful as it gives confidence to beginners like me. :)
Thanks for your questions!
Sweet Basil is a great variety and I love the flavour, especially in Indian food!
We have great climate here in Singapore for growing basil so your basil plants should be thriving.
I can think of 2 reasons why your basil leaves may be facing distress.
Basil is a water loving plant so make sure you water your pot regularly. In sunny Singapore, this means at least once a day (especially since you say you get morning sun in your balcony).
Curling leaves could also be because of pest infestation such as aphids. There are sprays you can use to eliminate them which are available in most nurseries here.
I have found that basil requires regular trimming because they grow so fast in our climate. Trimming also helps to make the growth bushier so make sure you do that regularly.
On your question on soil medium, if you are growing basil from seeds, then a seedling mix (which is primarily a light mix of coco peat & perlite) is good to get the seed to germinate. After the seedling stage, you will want to repot the basil into larger pots. At this stage of the growth, the basil seedling will need some nutrients in the medium so adding a small amount of worm cast to the same mixture will enable it to grow to the next stage.
Hope this helps!
Hi Sakina, I live in a flat in Singapore and am so grateful to chance upon your post. I am a beginner gardener with little experience and not much luck with growing sweet basil. I have not grown them from seeds but always re-potted those bought in the nursery or supermarket. They inevitably died from leaves first curling up and shrinking. And so I thought that Singapore climate is not right for sweet basil!! Could you advise me on your suggested soil medium composition for repotting? Would also appreciate tips on watering, sunlight etc. I have a balcony with direct morning sun. I am excited!! Thank you!