Basil is a popular herb used in many dishes. It has a flavor that is slightly sweet and peppery. Basil is an annual plant that can be grown quite easily in Florida. Basil is easy to grow in Florida because it thrives in its warm climate. In this article, we’ll discuss how to grow basil in Florida.
Basil grows well in the sun and moist, well-drained soil. Basils are classified as hardiness zones 9 to 12 by the US Department of Agriculture. Except for the northernmost parts of Florida, Basil will survive the winter.
The botanical name for basil is Ocimum basilicum, but it’s also known as Thai or sweet basil. It belongs to the Lamiaceae family, including rosemary, lavender, and sage.
Basil is a fragrant, warm-weather herb that goes well in various meals, including the renowned homemade pesto!
Plant the seeds or transplants once all dangers of frost have passed and the earth has warmed up, and you’ll have a bumper crop in a few weeks. Continue to gather the leaves to keep the basil plant alive and well.
A Garden Guide on How To Grow Basil In Florida
Seed can be started indoors 4-6 weeks prior to the last frost date. Because it needs warm air and sun to thrive, it’s best to start indoors instead of risking frost damage.
Planting should be avoided in north and central Florida from November to February. You can certainly plant all year in South Florida.
- The first step in growing basil is to select a planting location. The planting location should receive full sun exposure and have well-drained soil. Basil can be planted in the ground or raised bed containers to improve drainage. If you plan to utilize the basil in the kitchen, choose a site away from busy streets and driveways to avoid the plants being exhausted.
- Basil grows best in soils with a PH of 6 to 7.5. In most parts of Florida, the soil is somewhere in the middle of this range. The PH, on the other hand, tends to be higher in the state’s southernmost reaches. If the PH is higher than 7.5 after testing, use elemental sulfur and sphagnum peat moss to bring it down.
- If planting in the ground, make sure to loosen the soil before planting. If planting in a container, use a potting mix specifically for herbs. Once you have selected your planting location, it is time to plant the basil.
- The best way to plant basil is by using a seedling. If you are using a seedling, dig a hole that is twice as deep as the height of the seedling or 1/4 inches deep place the seedling in the hole. Fill in the hole with soil and water thoroughly.
- If you are planting basil from seeds, scatter the seeds on the soil’s surface and press them into the soil with your fingers. Seedlings/seeds should be planted 10-12 inches apart, and larger types necessitate more room. Basil grows best with tomatoes as a companion plant.
- Water the seeds lightly and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.
- Once the basil has been planted, it is important to water it regularly. The best way to water basil is by using a watering can with a rose attachment. This will help to avoid getting the leaves wet and will help to distribute the water evenly.
- Basil requires a lot of sunlight and should be fertilized every two weeks. The best way to fertilize basil is by using a liquid fertilizer. When the plants are about six inches tall, you can harvest the leaves.
- After two leaves have formed, basil can be moved into the garden or permanent containers. Basil loves moisture, so make sure the soil is moist.
- You can prune the basil seedlings to above the second set of leaves after they have developed the first six leaves to stimulate the plant to branch. Pruning the branches back to the initial set of leaves is a good idea. Pinch off the central shoot after about 6 weeks to prevent early blossoming. If the flowers grow too large, cut them off.
How to Harvest Basil
When the basil plants are 6-8 inches tall, begin picking the leaves. The best time to harvest basil is early in the morning, just after the dew has dried. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the leaves off the stem.
Snip the leaves off close to the stem. Avoid bruising the leaves. Basil will leaf out if the temperature reaches 80°F (27°C).
Pick the leaves on a daily basis to keep the plant growing throughout the summer. Twelve basil plants can generate 4-6 cups of leaves/week if picked frequently.
How to Store Basil
- Pick the leaves even if you don’t need them to keep the plant alive. They can be saved for later use! Basil can be dried by hanging upside down in a warm, dark place. The best way to store basil is to freeze it.
- Freezing the plant will keep it from losing a lot of its flavor. To freeze basil leaves quickly, place chopped leaves or whole in resealable, airtight plastic bags and freeze.
- To freeze basil leaves quickly, place chopped leaves or whole in resealable, airtight plastic bags and freeze.
- Another option for basil storage is to dry it (even though some of the flavors will be lost). Remove the leaves off the stem and put them in a shady, well-ventilated spot. If the plants are not entirely dry after 3-4 days, put them on the lowest heat setting in the microwave with the door slightly ajar. Make sure to flip them over and inspect them often for even drying. Once it is dry, it can be stored in a glass jar.
Basil Varieties For Planting in Florida
These basil variants are more tolerant of hot Florida temperatures.
African Blue Basil: This heavy-flowering, darker-leaved basil has a significantly richer flavor. It’s lovely, bees adore it, it can withstand heat, and it tastes wonderful.
Basil Pesto Perpetuo: This is yet another lovely, aromatic basil that never fails to please. The heat-tolerant herb plant grows vertically and never blossoms, and it has lovely variegated leaves having a wonderful taste. In a herb garden or flower bed, it looks great.
Lemon Basil: The lemony basil leaves are delicious in salads, and the plants can withstand heat.
Thai Basil: The award-winning ‘Siam Queen’ boasts wonderful, licorice-flavored leaves that go well with East Asian cuisine. The plants are attractive and low-growing.
In Florida, most basils are annuals, although a handful is perennials. Basil is a beautiful herb that can be grown quite easily in Florida. Basil is a delicious herb that can be used in many dishes. It is a member of the mint family and is related to rosemary, lavender, and sage.
Basil is easy to grow and plant in the ground or containers. It requires full sun exposure and well-drained soil. Basil is a warm-weather herb and grows best in Florida from March to November.
Now that you know how to grow basil in Florida. Let’s get planting! With just a little bit of care, you will be able to enjoy this herb in your dishes all year long.