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How Often Should You Water Basil?

How Often to Water Basil

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Nothing beats a bit of fresh basil in your pasta or as the basis for that homemade pesto. Supermarkets frequently offer shoppers the option to buy potted basil, so you can continue to regrow the plant and chop away whenever you need some. But keeping your basil plant happy can be challenging. Adequate light conditions, the right soil and temperature, and good watering are all part of basic basil plant care. But how often should you water basil? And is there a difference between watering indoor versus outdoor basil plants?

Basil plant watering—indoors

Basil can be grown indoors or outside. Correct watering for your herbs depends on the type of soil, the temperature and where it has been planted. 

Pots and containers are a good way to start growing basil. First, make sure that the pots you’re using have drainage holes so any excess water can run through and you avoid overwatering your plant. Rotting roots are a common problem and these tend to happen because basil is being overwatered.

During the warmer months, it’s recommended to water basil every three days to avoid the soil drying out too much. However, if your pot is in a slightly shadier spot, you may find watering every four days adequate. Most store-bought basil plants come in black plastic pots. These transfer heat more readily when placed in sunlight. It’s best to transfer your basil to a ceramic, clay or terracotta pot immediately to avoid the soil drying out too quickly. 

So how do you know when it’s time to water?

  • Check how moist the soil is by touching it with your fingers. If it still feels very moist, there’s no need to water. If the soil feels somewhat dry, you can add some water. This should help you work out how frequently you need to water the basil. 
  • Once your basil has grown to more than 10 inches and things are beginning to look a little crowded, repot your plant to a larger pot. Because a larger pot can store more water, you may find that you’ll be watering a little less often. But it’s best to keep checking using the soil test. 
  • If you’ve recently planted basil, you should water the seedlings every two days, or even daily, if the temperatures are very hot and you find that the soil dries out too quickly. 

Basil plant watering—outdoors

Correct watering of basil that’s growing in your garden is slightly different from potted herbs. How often you need to water garden basil depends on the type of soil, the season and temperature. 

If you’ve planted your basil in rich soil that consists of a fair amount of compost, then water roughly twice per week during hot weather and once a week when it’s a bit cooler. That’s because rich soil contains more moisture.

If there’s a lot of rainfall, you may not need to water at all. 

You could add compost after you’ve planted your basil to ensure that the soil stays a little more moist. Soil types such as clay may require more frequent watering. 

If you’re watering basil seeds in the garden, it’s important that you don’t overwater them because that could lead to flooding. As a result, your basil plants may never even begin to sprout at all.