I have always wondered which herbs I can grow in shade since I have a tree that provides shade in my garden. Basil is among the herbs that I want so badly. I therefore did some research to find out how it can do under a tree. Here’s what I found out.
Can basil grow in a shade?
Yes. Basil can grow in the shade and partial shade that receives about 6 hours of sunlight. Plant basil on the east side of your shady garden to avoid the hot midday sun. Basil also needs high nutrient-loaded well-drained soil and neutral ph and does not do well in cold climates. Unlike other Mediterranean herbs, basil needs a little bit of watering.
Basil does not do well in cold climates, which means that the best time to plant basil is during the first week of May.
Basil can be a good option to plant both indoors and in a shady or partial shade of your garden. Just make sure it is planted on the east side of your garden.
Growth requirements of basil under a shade
Basil is a plant that grows well in warm weather. It’s easy to grow it so long as you do it outdoors and take good care of it. Let’s find out some of its growth requirements.
You can grow basil one and a half months before the final spring frost. You can wait until the soil warms up to 50 degrees F- 70 Degrees F. While you are going to plant basil in the shade, it needs enough sunlight to grow properly.
Ensure that you plant basil under a partial shade that gets some sunlight for at least 6-8 hours each day.
The location needs to also have good drainage because this affects soil aeration. Basil needs enough moisture, but the soil drainage should also be great.
Basil needs a soil with PH levels ranging from 6 to 7. It’s better to test your soil and improve it in case you realize that it’s not within the recommended soil acidity.
You might want to add some organic nutrients on the soil like cottonseed meal, compost, and blood meal.
This is important because it helps you get awesome results. Feeding your basil with enough nutrients makes you harvest lots of leaves.
Whether you are planting basil seedlings or cuttings, they need enough moisture from early stages until the time for harvesting.
Whenever you notice the top inch is getting dry, water it thoroughly.
Remember, basil plants growing in pots dry very fast compared to the ones on the ground. So you need to water them frequently.
Basil needs well moist soil and a layer of mulch will help it retain the moisture.
You need to apply mulch which will not only be a great cover on the soil but also feeds the soil when it decomposes.
Once it decomposes, earthworms pull it making the soil fine. Since you are applying mulch on basil plants planted under a partial shade, you can apply 2 inch layers of organic mulch.
This could be chopped leaves, hay, or straw. Apply them under the plants immediately they reach 6 inches in height. Once the mulch settles down during mid-summer, add some more so that the plants.
Pruning and Grooming
Where basil grows doesn’t have to be bushy. Otherwise, the both the basil plant and the weeds will fight for nutrients.
You need to prune it well during the first few months to retain healthy basil plants.
Pinch off any growing tips from the plant with your forefinger and thumb. You might as well clip them using pruners so long as the plant is 6 inch tall.
Remember to pinch away any blossoms that appear on them so that they won’t affect oil content and growth of leaves.
This process is optional but you can do it for better results. With ideal conditions, various types of basil plants can grow and become 2 feet tall.
However, when the season goes on the plant tends to be more vulnerable to get damaged with wind or storms. You can use a single bamboo stake to prevent this issue.
Did you know that basil doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer? It’s already a plant that grows rigorously.
Too much fertilizer kills its flavor. You must add liquid fertilizer on it lightly two times in one season.
As for basil plant growing on a pot, you need to apply very little amount of liquid fertilizer.
Even though you are going to plant your basil under partial shade, you can plant it alongside with another plant.
Whereas this might be an old way of planting, it helps both plants yield better results.
For example, you can grow basil alongside with tomatoes. This makes all of them have a better taste. Other great companions of basil while planting on partial shade include peppers and oregano.
Bolting is the process whereby the plant produces a flowering stem before its harvested.
It does this in an attempt to yield seeds then reproduce before they die. This happens to plants under stress which will then respond by bolting.
Watch your basil plant closely since they can bolt during the summer days when it gets hot consistently.
You can remove 1-inch flowering stems below the flower. This prevents the plant from producing the seeds and also getting bitter.
How to grow basil
Basil is quite simple to grow. You can either grow its seedlings or use its cuttings. Any way can work so long as you do it the right way.
Growing basil seeds
Basil seeds can germinate weeks after planting them. If you grow them on the ground, they may get overwhelmed with weeds before they grow.
It would be great if you grow basil seeds on pots or punnets then transplant them later.
When you use punnets, you will need to do some faffing when during the beginning.
You will also need to feel all the slots with soil as you count out small seeds. For that reason, I prefer using pots to put enough seeds which give room for losing some.
Spread seeds on the soil thinly and cover them lightly with soil. Always begin with moist soil to avoid adding too much water later.
The reason why I don’t water the soil while planting is to avoid removing the light soil that covers the seeds. This may make them end up on one spot aside.
You might want to utilize a spray bottle to add some moisture if you must do that. After completing this, put the port on the partial shade you intended to plant the basil or on sunlight. Always water it so that it may not dry out.
Soil temperature will determine the time the seeds will take to germinate. The least time it may take is 3-5 days and sometimes a few weeks.
If you covered the pot, consider removing the cover immediately you notice growth of the seedlings.
This is important because they may get a fungal disease at that stage. Try to ensure that it has proper air circulation and that the surface doesn’t get too wet as well.
You can water if from the bottom by putting the pot on a bowl of water and let it soak it for a few minutes.
On a partial shade, basil might take 4-6 weeks depending on the sunlight and moisture it gets.
Immediately you notice the basil plant is about 6 inches tall, you can transplant it on the ground.
Word of Advice
I wouldn’t vouch for buying basil seedlings on the pot. Basil seedlings are prone to getting fungal diseases under too moist conditions.
You might also buy a pot with seedlings that might rot later from the bottom.
Remember, most pots sold with such seedlings are also crowded with the seedlings and air may not circulate well between them. Do you want such a seedling? Of course not!
Growing basil cuttings
I earlier mentioned that you can grow basil from cuttings too. Here’s how.
You can get cut off all the leaves from basil plant except the small ones at the top.
Stick the cutting to your pot of soil. Put it on partial shade and moisturize it always.
Remember, basil cuttings grow their roots very fast. Immediately you spot the plant growing actively gain, plant it out on your garden.
The best thing about basil cuttings is that they can’t experience diseases like fungal infection. I prefer planting basil cuttings to basil seeds before transplanting.
There’s no specific time for harvesting basil. Whenever the leaves grow, you can pluck them off throughout their growth.
Harvesting small amounts of basil
When you are harvesting a few leaves of basil you need to pick few leaves from each plant.
Avoid cutting off the whole stem. You might want to pinch only the tips of the branch so that the plant can fill with leaves easily.
Harvesting large amounts of basil
When harvesting in large quantities, harvest those leaves from the top going down. Cut it back up 1/3 of the height. Consider pinching it above the leaf pair instead of leaving a stub
Before the first frost comes, the season will be coming to an end. Trying cutting the plants to the ground then pick off all leaves. Put the stems in a compost pit and use the leaves.
Frequently asked questions
Can basil grow in shade? Yes. Basil can also grow in shade, but the shade should be partial. While basil also thrives in sunlight, there’s no problem when you grow them in partial shade. They need a little sunlight and moisture to grow well.
How long does basil take to grow from seed? It takes 7-10 days for basil to germinate. It also takes three to four weeks before basil gets ready for harvesting.
Wrapping it up
Basil can grow in shade. However, it needs enough moisture and some little sunlight. When planting it using seeds, make sure that the pot isn’t saturated with too much water at the bottom. This may lead to fungal diseases. You can plant its cuttings if you want to avoid this.