In this article, we will learn 3 simple steps on growing Thai basil at home.
You may have gotten Thai basil at a restaurant that served Asian cuisine. Of course, you might not have realized it was Thai basil since there are several varieties of basil, and they all seem similar.
Regardless, Thai basil has a few distinguishing characteristics. It features saw-tooth edges, for starters. Second, its leaves are smaller than those of other basil varieties.
Most importantly, it has a distinct flavor. This is why it makes Thai curries, and spring rolls so yummy. Thai basil has a spicy flavor. It also lacks the sweetness of sweet basil. Moreover, it also has licorice and anise undertones and aroma. It’s unique and a welcomed addition to any herb garden!
Now that you know what Thai basil is, let’s get to its methods of propagation:
Propagating Thai Basil
As with most types of basil, there are three ways to propagate Thai basil.
Seeds: You should not have a hard time finding Thai basil seed packets. You can either find them at the local store or buy them online.
Cuttings: You can also grow Thai basil from cuttings. For example, many restaurants may serve a healthy little branch of Thai basil with Asian or Italian cuisine. You can also simply ask for it. Just wrap it up in a napkin and take it home.
Buy it from a store: You can find little pots of Thai basil at the local supermarket’s fresh produce section or at your local nursery. But do not plant it directly. Instead, you have to break up the cluster before you plant it. They should all be separated by at least 15-20 cm.
Ideal Conditions for Growing Thai Basil
- Temperature: Around 65-70° F.
- pH: 6.5-7.5
- Nutrition: Fertilizers and compost.
- Sunlight: 6-8 hours. Use a grow light if necessary.
- Moisture: Maintain a moderate to a high level of humidity. Thai basil grows best in well-drained soil with frequent freshwater availability.
Interested in growing Basil Hydroponically? Click here and find out more!
Growth Process In Only Three Steps
Okay, so this step is a bit different for each propagation method. However, after this step, the rest of the process should be pretty similar whether you use Thai basil seeds, cuttings, or small herbs.
Thai basil seeds are somewhat fragile when it comes to germination. Therefore, not all the seeds you sow may grow. So if you are using pots, plant at least three seeds per pot. Once they sprout, you can take one or two out into other pots.
To grow Thai basil, you should keep the seeds warm and give them lots of moisture. If you want a head start on germinating the seeds, just keep them in lukewarm water overnight, and sow them early in the morning. You should cover the seeds with about ⅓ of an inch of soil.
In this step, we want the cuttings to grow roots. So take your cut and dip it in a glass of clear water. If you have several Thai basil cuttings, we recommend not clumping them together in the same glass. The roots will mingle and form a network that you will have to sever. So use separate glasses, if possible.
Also, you can use rooting hormones to speed up the process. But you should note that cuttings that grow roots from rooting hormones may not thrive as well.
If you use grown clumps from the supermarket, you can skip this step since your little basil already has roots.
Alright, so if you are growing your Thai basil seeds indoors or are transplanting seedlings/cuttings, you will need to harden them off. Also, since store-bought Thai basil clumps are kept cold, they might need some hardening off as well.
Hardening off means that you need to get the seedlings/cuttings/clumps used to the outside temperature gradually.
If you grow your Thai basil in the same place throughout its life, there is no need to harden it off.
Once you have your Thai basil in the ground, you must ensure that it does not face unfavorable conditions. For this purpose, pay attention to the environment. For example, abrupt temperature swings and soil that is too dry or too wet can disturb healthy growth.
Also, as mentioned above, you can use fertilizers or compost to nourish the soil. Thai basil needs micro-nutrients like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
If the conditions are right, you should see your Thai basil grow tall in a few weeks. We want our herbs to be around six inches tall by this point. Now, the problem here is that Thai basil grows tall, not wide. And we want wide.
So, to boost bushy growth, you should prune the main vertical-growing stem. We recommend pruning just above a leaf node since this is where the new branches will come in.
Cutting off the stem will redirect resources to the side branches. Similarly, you can pinch side branches or leaf clusters to stimulate horizontal growth.
3 Tips For Growing Thai Basil
1. Good Drainage
Thai basil will grow better with good water drainage. Do not plant them where water cannot drain well. Because if the soil gets too moist, both the excess water beneath the ground and the excess humidity above the earth can cause damage to the plant.
As mentioned in the ideal conditions, Thai basil needs a high level of humidity. Around 70% should do. If you have them in the open air, consider using a plastic sheet or some other transparent sheet as a cover.
Note, however, that you must find a balance between humidity and air circulation. Stagnant air becomes unsuitable for ideal growth because the oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration is disturbed if air does not circulate.
Again, using a humid dome or some other sort of transparent covering can be helpful. You may remove the cover a couple of times during the day to ensure good circulation.
Before you plant your next batch of Thai basil, make sure the soil is well-nourished. If you have access to compost, work some well-aged compost into the ground. In addition, you can use fertilizers meant specifically for herbs like Dr. Earth or EarthPods.
Harvesting Grown Thai Basil
Here comes the part where you finally get the end product. At the end of about four weeks, your grown Thai basil should be ready for harvesting. Otherwise, you can harvest leaves at any point after your basil plant is more than six inches tall.
It would be best if you cut branches right above a leaf node. As a result of this, new branches should sprout. You can also harvest the whole herb plant if you like. One good reason for harvesting your plants is that older plants may produce less flavorful leaves. So, taking out plants after a year or so is a good idea.
After harvesting the leaves, you should either use them immediately or store them. The same goes for harvesting whole plants. However, it is helpful to remember that you should harvest leaves if you intend to use them relatively soon. On the other hand, if you plan on storing Thai basil for two or more weeks, harvest the whole plant.
The first thing to do when drying basil leaves is to take the leaves off the branch. Then cook them in an oven at a very low setting around 180 degrees F for a few hours (you don’t want to burn them). Cook them to the point where they crumble when you crush them.
After cooking the leaves, you can store them crumbled or as they are. Do this by putting the leaves in a resealable plastic bag and keeping them in a cool, dry place.
For other methods check out 3 easy ways you can dry basil.
Put the leaves (or the plant) in boiling water for about 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, take them out and put them directly into an ice bath. Let them cool for a few seconds. Then take the leaves out of the ice bath. Put them on a napkin and leave them to dry completely.
Once they are dry, wrap them up in freezer paper or wax paper. Finally, put the leaves in a resealable plastic bag and store them in the freezer.
Growing Thai basil is going to take some work. You will have to maintain ideal conditions and work some compost or fertilizer into the soil. But after around 5 or 6 weeks, you should have fresh home-grown leaves to serve with your dishes. Pinch the leaves or the branches whole and enjoy!