Basil is an ideal plant for container gardening, whether on the patio or the kitchen windowsill. Growing basil in containers allows you to move basil to follow seasonal changes in sun, to shaded areas during hot summers, warmer areas during spring, and to protected areas when necessary in response to winds or other environmental factors.
Here are five suggestions for growing basil in containers:
Location. Place basil in a warm area where it will receive plenty of light.
Soil. GardenZeus recommends a soil mix of at least 2/3 sand and topsoil when growing vegetables and herbs in containers, with some organic matter or compost. Potting soils with high proportions of organic matter tend to shrink and collapse over the course of a growing season as soil microbes and macro organisms like insects digest and decompose the organic matter, which results in falling soil levels.
Watering. Soils may dry rapidly in containers, so monitoring and regular watering of vegetables and herbs in containers is important. Pay close attention to soil moisture and frequency of irrigation. Consider using self-watering containers, trays that hold a half-inch of standing water under pots, or pay extra attention to irrigation or manual watering when growing basil in containers. When growing multiple basil plants in one container, it can be difficult to maintain adequate levels of soil moisture. GardenZeus recommends using one large pot rather than several small ones to help ensure the soil does not dry out too quickly.
Amendments. Nutrients are easily leached from containers. GardenZeus recommends providing basil plants grown in containers with supplemental fertility; add compost or nutrient-rich amendments and refresh mulch every month or so when growing in containers.
Companion Plants. Gardeners who are tempted to plant basil with other Mediterranean herbs should be aware that basil has cultural needs that differ from many other Mediterranean herbs. Herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme prefer soils drier than basil, and parsley and cilantro want cooler temperatures than basil.
Basil has cultural needs often different from other herbs.
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