How to grow basil in Perth

Growing basil in Perth

Growing herbs in Perth or other parts of Western Australia is very easy. The most common type of basil grown at home is sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). Most basil needs warm weather to thrive, so it’s best grown over Spring/Summer here in Perth. It’s important to keep this in mind when assessing where to plant basil in your garden.  However, there are a couple of types of perennial Basil you can plant in the cooler weather – the taste is slightly different to traditional Basil however so for the sake of simplicity I will speak to the traditional sweet basil growing tips.

When you think basil you typically think fragrant Italian recipes like pizza,  caprese salads, pasta dishes.  However, there is also Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), which is perfect for Asian cooking as the name suggests.

If you have ever wondered how to grow basil in Perth then look no further. A relatively simple fruit tree to grow there are a few tricks to successfully growing basil in Perth, Western Australia but get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant basil seeds in Perth:
Perth has ideal basil growing conditions. Basil is easy to grow once it gets started but it doesn’t like cold weather. Cold nights will turns its leaves black. The rule of thumb is to only plant it outdoors once the night time temperature is consistently above 10 degrees Celsius .  This can vary from late August or almost into October in some years.  I always think planting basil seeds in WA shouldn’t be done until the AFL footy season is finished.

Types of basil in Western Australia:
There are over 100 different basil species to choose from so we will just list some of the common popular basil varieties.

  • Sweet basil – Abundant bunches of lush green leaves with rich fragrance.
  • Thai basil – Authentic spicy flavour and aroma with attractive purple stems. Grows well in hot conditions. If you like thai food try growing thai basil at home.
  • Purple basil – Abundant bunches of deep purple leaves with a rich fragrance.
  • Minette basil – Compact, fine leafed plant that keeps its neat growth habit all season long.
  • Cinnamon basil – Attractive plant with olive green foliage and purple stems.
  • Lemon basil – Intense yet subtle lemon flavour is ideally paired with seafood or for creating Thai style cuisine.
  • Holy basil – Popular in Thai cuisine, this herb produces aromatic foliage and purple flowers during spring.

How to grow basil from seed:
Basil grows beautifully in the ground from seed, and is a great companion plant for tomatoes.

  1. Choose a spot in your garden that is sunny, however basil will also do well in a partly shaded position.  You just don’t want full shade.
  2. Sow seeds into well drained soil, enriched with soil improver and plant fertiliser.
  3. Keep the soil moist and mulch with an organic mulch, such as lucerne. Feed weekly with a liquid plant food to promote lots of healthy green leaves.
  4. Water the base of the plant rather than the leaves to help prevent leaf diseases on the basil leaves.

How to grow basil in a pot:

  1. Choose a spot in your garden for your pot that is sunny however basil will also do well in a partly shaded position.
  2. Sow seeds into quality potting mix with dynamic lifter.
  3. Keep the soil moist and feed weekly with liquid plant food to promote lots of healthy green leaves.
  4. Water basil in the morning at the base of the plant rather than the leaves to help prevent leaf diseases.

How to grow basil from cuttings:
You can buy basil seedlings however, basil propagation from cuttings is quite simple if you have a friend with a plant. Propagating basil is a way to share your basil with your friends or create yourself a massive supply. All you need to do is take a 10 cm basil cutting right below a leaf node. Remove the leaves off the basil cutting 5 cm from the end. Make sure the basil cutting is a piece that has not yet flowered. Place your basil cutting in a glass of water in the window where it can get good sunlight. Change the water every 2-3 days. After about 2-4 weeks your basil should have grown it’s roots near to 5cm long and you are ready to plant your basil in pot indoors next to the window again in direct sunlight.  You can then transfer outside into the garden once the basil root system has developed or keep it in the pot if preferred.

When to harvest basil:
You can start to harvest basil 7 to 8 weeks after planting. Harvesting basil leaves regularly will encourage more foliage. Removing basil flower heads will also encourage more leaf growth.  Remember to keep picking out the top leaves and flowers to ensure bushier, healthier plants.

Harvest basil leaves as needed. It’s important to leave enough basil leaves on the plant for it to recover and grow more leaves. The leaves are needed for photosynthesis to keep your basil plant strong and healthy. Use your fingers or scissors to pick leaves from the plant.

Storing basil at home:
Trim some sprigs of basil and put the bunch in a glass, jar, of water that will fit in the fridge, and cover the whole thing, or at least the basil leaves, with a plastic bag. Place the whole glass jar of basil in in a refrigerator. Basil kept that way will stay vibrant and green for up to a week.

Basil care and common problems:
The most important thing when it comes to how to care for basil plant is to keep picking the leaves from the top. The more you harvest the bigger and bushier your basil will grow if you take the leaves from the top.

Basil is frost sensitive so be sure to move any potted basil into the green house if frost is forecast. In the mild Western Australian winters, perennial basil can be grown in the garden right through winter.

Caterpillars, Snails and slugs will all need to be monitored and controlled.

Basil is a great companion plant for tomatoes and has many of the same requirements.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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