In the supermarket, basil lures in a pot with its crisp, fresh leaves and aromatic scent. Hardly arrived on the windowsill of the kitchen, the Mediterranean kitchen herb wilts and dies after a few days. For a long time, this fact was considered a botanical mystery and caused headaches for basil lovers. Knowledgeable scientists and experienced hobby gardeners have now succeeded in solving the puzzle. Read below why basil in a pot has little chance of a long life right from the start. With the help of a few gardening tricks, the harvest can be extended to at least a week.

Extreme stress on the transport route

The lush appearance of potted basil at the weekly market or in the supermarket belies the actual condition of the plant. In truth, the substance of the herb has been weakened because it was exposed to great strain on the long transport route.

  • The substrate contains hardly any nutrient reserves.
  • Unfavorable lighting conditions prevail during transport.
  • Minimal water supply and low temperatures bother basil.

The suspicion, subliminally hinted at for years, that the producers knowingly planted basil in inferior or even contaminated soil could be refuted. Neutral special laboratories carried out spot checks on the soil, none of which showed any harmful components. Rather, it is the debilitation that is the main reason for the short shelf life of the royal herb.

Immediate action at home

The basil from the trade therefore keeps itself upright with its last strength when it reaches the end consumer. Anyone who places it by the window without further ado and appreciates it with minimal attention will hardly enjoy it for more than 1 week. With a little more attention, on the other hand, the lifespan of this herbal plant can be noticeably extended:

  • Stem the basil and separate into 3 parts.
  • Plant in a nutrient-rich substrate, such as compost-based potting soil.
  • Adding some sand or perlite increases permeability.

Experience has shown that the royal herb is much too crowded in the pot. With the help of a division, the hobby gardener significantly reduces the competition for light, water and nutrients. No more than 5, maximum 10 shoots should be cultivated per pot. The volume of a planter should not be less than 30 cm in diameter. Within the scope of scientific tests, herbal plants that were visibly more vital and greener actually presented themselves after 5 days.

Lack of light is fatal

Basil is native to the sun-drenched regions of the Mediterranean. The need for light is correspondingly high. While this requirement is met in the producers’ greenhouses, poor lighting conditions on the windowsill lead to a crisis. The location must therefore be chosen with care.

  • Full sun for as many hours a day as possible.
  • Temperatures around 20° Celsius and higher.
  • Avoid cold drafts at all costs.

This finding is backed up by tests carried out by experienced specialists. It turned out that basil can withstand unfavorable lighting conditions for about 5 days before the negative effects are visible. The herbal plant then degrades rapidly.

Pouring with finesse

With regard to the water balance, basil is quite sensitive. A soaked root ball is just as harmful as substrate that is too dry.

  • Keep the basil constantly moist.
  • Water as soon as the surface of the soil has dried.
  • Only use water at room temperature.
  • Never water over the leaves, but directly onto the substrate.
  • Do not leave water in the coaster for a long time.

If there is a cumulative combination of lack of light and incorrect watering behavior, the life expectancy of the royal herb is reduced to less than 1 week.

Tip: The method of immersing the root ball in a container with water for a few minutes if necessary has proven itself.

If a hobby gardener wants to meticulously implement the research results, he carries out the water supply according to a precise schedule and quantity plan. Watering at the same time every day, in a dosage of one tenth of the pot’s volume, has proven to be optimal.

Don’t starve basil

In contrast to most herbs, basil is characterized by an extremely high need for nutrients.

  • A special fertilizer for nutrient-depleting herbs from specialist shops is ideal.
  • Compost alone does not cover the nutrient requirements.
  • Granular cattle manure is recommended as an organic fertilizer.
  • Liquid guano is easier to dose.

In connection with the choice of an adequate fertilizer, it should be noted that basil requires little lime. Additional doses should be avoided entirely, as there is a sufficient amount in tap water.

Harvesting properly preserves vitality

All maintenance measures are in vain when the basil begins to flower. The flowers themselves are also considered extremely tasty; at the same time they herald the end of the herbal plant. Those who pursue the goal of keeping the royal herb alive for as long as possible therefore prevent flowering as much as possible or at least delay it. This is easy to do with the right harvesting technique.

  • Never just pluck off individual leaves.
  • Harvest whole shoots just above the leaf axils.
  • Do not leave noticeable buds on the stems.

The more regularly the harvest takes place, the bushier the royal herb thrives. If the entire leaf stand is needed in the kitchen, the plant will sprout again even after a complete pruning. Provided at least one sleeping eye remains on the herb.

Think about the propagation in good time

Of course, there is nothing wrong with using a basil until it dies and then buying a new one. Of course, the procedure then starts all over again. On the other hand, it is more advantageous to multiply the nurtured royal herb in the phase of its highest vitality. In this way, the hobby gardener ensures seamless access to crunchy, rich herbs. The work with cuttings is very uncomplicated.

  • Cut off healthy, leafy shoots to a length of 10 cm.
  • Completely defoliate the lower half.
  • Place cuttings in a glass of water, preferably willow water.
  • Allow to root in a warm, bright place.

Experience has shown that a new root system has formed after 10 to 14 days. The herb lover then puts the little plants in 9 cm pots filled with a nutrient-poor mixture of herb soil and sand. The sensitive roots must not be damaged. While the young basil are busily rooting through the growing pots, they are kept constantly moist. Ideally, they spend this phase in the shelter of an indoor greenhouse. Optionally, pull over plastic bags create a beneficial microclimate. If the cuttings sprout again, the propagation is successful. If the growing pot is too small for them, the knowledgeable gardener replants them in a bucket that is now filled with nutritious substrate.

Incidentally, the propagation of cuttings from cuttings, as offered in the trade, succeeds in the rarest of cases.

Windowsill is considered a weak point in cultivation

By nature, basil is designed as an annual plant. On the windowsill, however, the life expectancy is reduced to a maximum of 2 to 4 weeks, even with the most loving care. Thus, the location in the room emerges as a sore point in cultivation; no matter how sunny and warm it may be. If a hobby gardener really wants to enjoy the benefits of the royal herb for a long time, there is only one measure to consider: Get out into the fresh air. On the balcony or terrace, the potted plant feels at home in a sunny to partially shaded, warm spot. Ideally, the basil is protected from rain and cold drafts. If possible, the blazing midday sun should not reach the leaves and shoots, because in this case there is a risk of sunburn. Otherwise there is no difference to the care on the windowsill.

Herb Bed supplies premium basil

Leisure gardeners, who also consider themselves discerning gourmets, have known for a long time: Basil of the highest quality only thrives in good garden soil outdoors. Even the strained pot herbs from the supermarket have the best chance of developing their full potential over a long period of time. The planting season begins in mid-May when the ice saints have said goodbye.

  • Loosen the soil at a suitable location and weed thoroughly.
  • Enrich the soil with sifted compost and horn shavings.
  • Drain and chop the basil.
  • Create planting holes 25 cm apart with drainage.
  • Plant the royal herb a little deeper than it was in the pot.
  • Water well and mulch if necessary.

If there is a tomato house in the bed, experienced gardeners add the basil. On the one hand, the kitchen herb receives first-class protection from the rain, on the other hand it drives pests away from the tomato plants with its aroma.

The veil is lifted on the mystery of why basil is dying indoors. Experienced experts and knowledgeable hobby gardeners have found answers to this question that has been pressing for years. The apparently magnificent appearance on the supermarket shelf belies the true condition of the herb. It is extremely stressed, devoid of any nutrient reserves. The most important measure at home is the division of the densely packed root ball. Then it is important to keep the royal herb constantly slightly moist in the sunny location and to supply it with nutrients regularly. Delaying or avoiding flowering is of essential importance. This is achieved by regularly harvesting whole shoots instead of individual leaves. The hobby gardener achieves a significantly longer shelf life, when he carries the plant into the open air. If his efforts are successful, he should not miss the timely propagation.

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