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Why Are My Basil Leaves So Small – 5 Genuine Reasons!

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Basil is a beautiful and fragrant plant with tasty leaves used in many Italian dishes as a garnish, pesto sauce, and green leaves salads.

To make these tasty dishes, you’ll require plenty of basil leaves that are big and healthy.

But sometimes, the basil plant starts producing small leaves, which are insufficient to make anything.

If your basil plant is in the same condition, and you are wondering why are my basil leaves so small, do not lose hope because I am here to guide you through everything about your plant.

Today in this post, we will go through why a basil plant produces small leaves and how you can troubleshoot your plant’s problem to make delicious foods for yourself.

So, without wasting any time, let us jump directly into it!

Small basil leaves why are my basil leaves so small
Why are my basil leaves so small? – Image via Reddit.

Why Are My Basil Leaves So Small?

You have noticed that your basil leaves are not growing well, making you feel curious about the reason behind it.

A lack of sunlight and nutrients typically causes small leaves in basil plants.

There are other reasons for it as well, and I will discuss all the possible ones with you in detail.

These include:

1. Insufficient Supply of Sunlight

Sunlight is the major requirement of all plants for their proper growth and functioning.

Like other plants, basil plants also need light to grow their leaves bigger and healthier.

Basil needs about six to eight hours of sunlight daily; its growth is affected if not exposed to proper light.

If you do not provide your plant with the desired conditions, you will see that your plant leaves turn yellow and eventually die.

Contrarily if your plant survives in that condition, it will grow very tiny leaves.

But stay careful in providing light to your plant, as excessive exposure to direct sunlight is also harmful to your plant.

Basil is a sensitive plant; thus, excess sunlight is also not good.

It is because surplus sunlight will cause the basil leaves to shrink and burn.

2. Irregular watering

Basil needs sufficient and consistent watering, no matter how much you expose your plant to sunlight.

The amount of water your basil leaves need depends upon many factors, like the plant’s age, the pot’s size, and the pot’s material.

But remember that underwatering and overwatering are equally damaging for plant growth.


Basil plant requires plenty of water—it loves to grow in moist (not wet) soil.

If you do not provide your plant with the necessary amount of water, your plant will not be able to grow.

You can quickly identify the underwatered plant by dry soil and droopy leaves.


Although basil leaves love moist conditions, too much water is also an issue for the plant.

The bulk of water in the roots makes them not perform well and leads to fungal infections causing root rot.

That will lead to the plant’s poor growth, resulting in small, pale leaves.

3. Diseases

Certain diseases can dump the growth of your plant roots.

These diseases are dangerous and can lead your plant to death. These diseases include:


If you do not protect your plant, various pests can infest and destroy your plant.

These pests have a parasitic relationship with your plants, which means these pests like to prey on your plant leaves, roots, and stems and, in return, provide your plant with severe damage.


Bacteria in the basil plant cause a common disease known as leaf spot.

In the bacterial infection of the basil plant, with the shortening of leaves, you’ll also see spots and streaks on your plant’s leaves.

The primary cause of bacterial infection is overhead watering.

Basil leaves with black spots—why are my basil leaves so small?
Why are my basil leaves so small? If your plant suffers from a disease like a bacterial infection or a pest attack, the leaf growth will be affected—Image via Reddit.

4. Inadequate Nutrients

Insufficient fertilizers may be a cause of your basil plant growing small leaves.

Lack of sufficient nutrients is a significant reason that your basil leaves are not producing large leaves.

It could be because you planted your basil plant in inferior quality soil or you are not providing your plant with enough fertilizer.

All plants need three essential nutrients: nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

Try to grow your plant in nutrient-rich soil. Otherwise, you need to fulfill your plant needs using fertilizer.

5. Small Container

Your plant’s container might also be a reason for its small leaves.

Pots play an essential role in the development of the plant.

The starter pots are usually ridiculously small, and plants cannot grow in them.

If you force your plant to grow in a smaller container, the roots get squeezed into a tiny space, leading the plant roots to suffocate.

If that’s the case, your plant won’t grow as healthier; thus, there is no production of healthy leaves.

How Can You Grow Your Basil Leaves Properly?

To grow your basil leaves properly and regularly, first, you need to identify why your basil leaves are not growing well.

When you understand the reason clearly, you can correctly treat your plant.

Suppose you have found the reason for your small basil leaves, and now you want to move on to the next step—reviving your plant.

You need to read these treatments in case of different diseases and then apply them as it is for fast recovery:

Feed Your Basil

Like other herbs, basil is a low-maintenance plant, but it requires adequate nutrients to ensure proper growth.

Although basil is not very fussy and grows well without help, occasionally giving good fertilizer to the plant produces beautiful and healthy leaves.

In the case of nutrient deficiency, a plant cannot grow properly. Therefore, make sure your basil plant receives its desired amount of nutrients.

There are some cheap tests to check the nutrient content of the soil.

You can apply these tests to your soil to check which nutrient is in low amount or completely absent. In this way, you can make all the plants in your garden look lush and healthy.

The requirement for extra nutrients is slight; thus, excess fertilizer can harm your plant.

If you notice that your plant needs help, you can fertilize it with a well-balanced fertilizer every 4–6 weeks if placed indoors and every 3–4 weeks if placed outdoors.

Water soluble fertilizers are recommended; diluting them half in strength is a better way to use them.

Maintain a Watering Schedule

If you are providing your plant with sufficient light and nutrition, but your plant’s problem is not solved yet, watering might be the issue in your case.

But as mentioned earlier, underwatering and overwatering are equally damaging for your plant; therefore, knowing the right amount of water your plant needs is the best way to maintain your plant.

You can use the finger test before watering your plant. Always let the top third of the soil get dry in between waterings.

Water your basil only when the soil is dry to touch but not too dry as the plant can suffer from underwatering.

Get a Bigger Container

As mentioned earlier, container plays an essential role in the growth and maintenance of a plant.

That is why you need to ensure that the container is big enough to hold the plant and give its roots enough space to breathe freely.

Going about 2 inches bigger than the last one is usually an ideal choice. If you want to know about the pot’s material, I recommend the ones made with clay or ceramics.

Also, ensure the container contains drainage holes to remove extra water and prevent waterlogging.

Can You Consume Small Basil leaves?

If the leaves don’t show any discoloration or spots, and there is no bacterial or viral disease, there is no problem consuming the small leaves.

But remember, these leaves do not taste well and may taste slightly bitter than the fully grown and healthier ones.

I hope you found your answer!

Why are my basil leaves so small? How to Care for a Basil Plant: Gardening Tips – YouTube

Now it is time to move toward the conclusion.


So, why are my basil leaves so small?

  • If your basil plant does not produce regular size leaves, it might be going through some stress.
  • It may be insufficient sunlight or water, or your plant might be suffering from a disease.
  • Container size is also essential in regulating plant growth and leaf size.
  • What you need to do is to find out the reason and then treat your plant accordingly.

That is all!

I hope you find this post beneficial. If you like this post, please consider sharing it with people.

Moiz Atiq.