Garden Plant Guides

Tower Garden Grow Guide: How to Grow Basil

Give your garden some Italian flare.
GROWING INFORMATION
Basil
DIFFICULTY
1 out of 5 leaves
TIME TO HARVEST
5-6 weeks
INDOOR VS OUTDOOR
Both
BEST TOWER POSITION
Top

Why We Love Basil

Tired of substituting fresh basil whenever you see it in a recipe? Tower Garden is here to help. Basil is known as one of the most popular herbs in the world because of its flavor, but it’s also a wonderful crop for beginner gardeners because as long as you keep it well-pruned, it will produce a continuous harvest of leaves with little work. Even better? Growing basil with Tower Garden involves no kneeling, no bending, no tilling, and no dirt!

Download the Basil Grow Guide PDF.

Varieties

  • Sweet basil (e.g., Genovese, Italian Large Leaf)  - Highly aromatic and perfect for making pesto and other Italian dishes. Every Tower Garden ships with sweet basil seeds.
  • Lemon Basil - Combines the traditional basil taste with a citrusy flair reminiscent of a lemon or lime.
  • Purple Basil - Typically grown for its unique appearance rather than for flavor. You can use purple basil just like sweet basil. (But we recommend using a little more, as the taste is typically less potent.)
  • Thai Basil - Known for its sweet licorice-like flavor. It’s commonly found in — you guessed it — Thai food.

Planting Your Seedlings

What You’ll Need

  • Tower Garden Growing System
  • Seedling Starter Kit (If starting with seeds)
  • Basil seeds/seedlings (included in Seedling Starter Kit)
  • Net pots or Growing Clips
  • LED Indoor Grow Lights (for indoor growing)
  • Access to power source

More  information on starting your seeds is here.

  1. Germinate your seeds. This step will take roughly 1-2 weeks. Basil seeds should be ready for transplant (about 1–3 weeks) when they have a good root system growing from the rockwool cubes.
  2. Place one seedling cube into each net pot or growing clip on your Tower Garden Growing System. We recommend planting basil near the top of your Tower Garden, where it can comfortably grow upward and outward — which it will do rapidly.
  3. Gently press the seedling cube until it touches the base of the net pot or growing clip.

Growing Conditions

Temperature: 60 - 85° F

Light exposure and watering cycle can be controlled by our digital timer, but for manual reference:

Light

For outdoor – minimum 6-8 hours of full sunlight daily

For indoor – set grow light timer for 14-16 hours on, 8-10 hours off

Watering Cycle

Please set the Tower timer to “O” for outdoor growing or “I” for indoor growing.

Maintenance & Pest Prevention

  • Check water and pH levels at least weekly.
  • Keep roots away from pump.
  • If not in full sun when outdoors, rotate garden regularly for even growing.
  • Clean pump monthly.
  • Check regularly for pests.
  • Remove dead plant debris.
  • Destroy diseased plant material.

More information on Tower Garden maintenance is here, as well as extra help for pests and troubleshooting.

Harvesting

  • Unlike other plants, you should harvest basil continuously. Harvesting makes basil more productive and gives the plant a stronger structure.
  • Once your plants have developed 6–8 pairs of true leaves, you can begin harvesting. Do so by pinching (with your fingers) or cutting (with scissors) stem tips to promote branching. Pinch 1/4" above where the plant is branching. Whatever you pinch off is your harvest.
  • Sometimes you will see new leaf growth in the axil of the stem and mature leaf; this is the future branch! Pinch or cut the stem halfway between the lower pair of leaves and the growing tip. If these 2 sets of leaves are close together, you can feel the knob just below the growing tip and gently roll it off the tip of the stem; this is known as a soft pinch.
  • Once you’ve harvested from your plants twice, you may need to harvest using the above procedure as much as twice a week. When your basil plant is established with several branches, don’t forget to harvest the lower, larger leaves at the base of the plant, as they are full of flavor. 
  • Keep your basil from flowering for as long as possible through regular pinching! When the plant flowers, it signals the end of the growing cycle. The leaves also become less sweet and more bitter during flowering.
  • To harvest an entire plant, cut the whole plant from the base. 
  • Any excess basil can be frozen.

Ways to Enjoy

  • Garnish – Throw your freshly picked basil on top of a pizza, pasta, or even your morning avocado toast.
  • Pesto – Put your blender to good use and make this delicious Italian sauce. All you need is some pine nuts, oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, and fresh basil to make delicious pesto. Here’s a classic Basil Pesto recipe from a fellow Tower Gardener, and a vegan version.
  • Salads – Add some flavor to any salad by topping it with basil.

Looking for more recipes and kitchen inspiration? Check out Let’s Cook.