How to Grow Thai Basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora)

Thai basil in garden

By Jennifer Poindexter

Do you like to grow different varieties of common herbs? Basil is a traditional herb grown in many herb gardens.

It’s no wonder because this herb is delicious! Yet, Thai basil is a unique variety of this plant. It produces green leaves, purple stems, and light purple blooms.

Not only is the color scheme different but in comparison to sweet basil, Thai basil has a peppery flavor. If you’re interested in incorporating this variety, let’s discuss how you should go about it.

Here’s what you should know to grow Thai basil around your home garden:

What You’ll Learn:

  • How to germinate Thai basil seeds effectively.
  • Steps to transplant Thai basil seedlings.
  • Tips for caring and maintaining healthy Thai basil plants.
  • Methods to propagate Thai basil through cuttings.
  • Common pests and diseases that affect Thai basil and how to deal with them.
  • Techniques for harvesting and storing Thai basil for future use.

Growing Conditions for Thai Basil

Thai basil is a beautiful addition to the garden and provides a different flavor to some of your favorite meals.

This herb is technically a perennial, but it only remains hardy in planting zones ten and eleven. Therefore, it’s grown as an annual in most other areas.

Expect the herb to reach heights around 1 foot tall and an equal width once it reaches maturity. Thai basil can grow in the ground or in a container.

Any growing container should have a depth of 12-inches and an equal width. Select either a plastic or glazed pot for this purpose.

Terra cotta isn’t a good fit for Thai basil as it dries out too quickly. Whether growing this herb in the ground or in a container, choose soil that’s well-draining.

This plant should be grown in full to partial sunlight. It prefers around six hours of sunlight or more. If you live in a warmer climate, it might be best to select a growing location that receives plenty of morning light and partial shade in the afternoon.

A location like this should help protect basil from the extremely warm weather in the afternoons. These are the things you should consider when selecting a growing location for your Thai basil plant.

How to Plant Thai Basil

Thai basil can be grown using two different growing methods. The first option is to start your seeds indoors. The other option is to directly sow them into their permanent growing location.

Should you decide to get a jump on the growing season, start your seeds indoors six weeks prior to the final frost date.

Fill grow trays with well-draining soil, plant two seeds per cell of the tray, and cover them lightly.

You may either mist the soil with a water bottle or water the plants from beneath by sitting the tray inside a larger tray filled partially with water.

Once the soil is damp, pour the excess moisture away and add more water to the bottom tray as needed. As long as the soil remains evenly damp throughout the germination process, your plants should be fine.

Thai basil seeds typically germinate in ten days. When the seeds sprout, move them to a place with bright, indirect lighting.

If both seeds germinate in the cell, pick the stronger plant, and cut the other off at soil level. Keep the soil evenly damp and provide adequate lighting until the plant forms true leaves and all threat of frost is over.

At this point, you may harden the seedlings off and transplant them in their permanent growing location.

If you decide to direct sow Thai basil, wait until all threat of frost is over and the soil temperature during the day is around 70-degrees Fahrenheit and doesn’t dip below 50-degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Till the soil to where it’s ready to receive seed and sow them at a depth of ¼ inch. Cover the seeds lightly with dirt and apply even moisture to the area.

Keep the soil damp during the germination period. Once the seeds sprout, thin them to where there’s a foot between each plant.

Now that you know how to plant Thai basil, let’s discuss how to keep these plants healthy throughout the growing season.

Caring for Thai Basil

Thai basil has only a few requirements when caring for it. The first requirement is watering the plant deeply.

By applying water for longer periods of time, fewer days of the week, it encourages the plants to develop a deeper root system.

This usually encourages an overall healthier plant. Ensure you test the soil prior to applying more water by inserting your finger into the dirt next to the plant.

If it’s dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to have another deep watering session. If not, wait a day or two before applying more water to the area.

The next thing you should do is mulch around your plants. Not only does this keep weeds down, but it also helps keep moisture in around them.

From here, you’ll want to apply an all-purpose fertilizer to your plants once per month throughout the summer.

You should also pinch the tops of the plants to encourage bushier growth. The final thing you can do is more about helping you than the plant.

Consider propagating your Thai basil plants. As you pinch the tops of the plants off or harvest from them, as long as you have an approximate 6-inch cutting, it can form a new plant.

Place the cutting in water in a clear glass container. The plant should sit in the water, not be fully submerged.

Keep the jar in a bright windowsill, and the cutting should form roots within a month. From there, transplant the new plant into a container filled with well-draining soil.

Ensure the soil remains evenly damp, the container stays in an area with adequate light and warmth, and after the plant forms true leaves you may add it to your garden.

These are a few things you can do to encourage healthy and productive plants in your herb garden.

Thai Basil growing in container garden

Garden Pests and Diseases Which Impact Thai Basil

Most plants face threats in the garden. Thai basil is no exception. The most common diseases to impact this plant are damping off, fusarium wilt, and leaf spot.

Damping off is a fungal disease that impacts seedlings which are left in oversaturated growing conditions that are too cool.

Avoid this by ensuring your seedlings aren’t overwatered, have the right amount of warmth and light, and you may also sprinkle cinnamon over the soil as it has antifungal properties. Once your plants experience damping off, there is no recovery.

Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne disease that also has no cure. Remove any plants impacted by this issue and destroy them. If you compost the plant it could spread the disease further.

Finally, leaf spot should be treated with copper sprays or by removing any damaged part of the plant. Destroy anything you remove to avoid spreading this disease further.

The most common pests to impact Thai basil are aphids, Japanese beetles, and slugs. All of these issues can be treated with an insecticide.

Alternative methods include spraying your plants with soapy water to dislodge aphids, using Japanese beetle traps around your garden, and slugs have quite a few methods to deter them from your garden.

You may handpick slugs from your plants to remove them. Diatomaceous earth and coffee grounds around the base of your plants is also helpful.

Slugs don’t like caffeine, so the coffee grounds deter while the DE creates a dangerous terrain for the pests to crawl over.

Be mindful of watching your plants to ensure you catch any problems in the beginning to avoid serious damage to your harvest.

How to Harvest Thai Basil

There are many ways to harvest and store basil. First, you should harvest basil from the top to encourage the plant to keep growing.

Do this by cutting the foliage away from the plant as you desire. You may store fresh basil in a glass container filled with water.

Cover the herbs with plastic wrap to keep moisture in. Change the water every couple of days to encourage your harvest to remain fresh.

You may also dry basil in a dehydrator and store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry location for later use.

If you’d like to harvest seeds from your Thai basil plant, let some of the plant go to seed. Wait until the heads dry.

From there, rub them in your hands like you’re trying to stay warm. Do this over a container as the seeds should fall out.

If the seeds are fully dry, store them in a sealed container in a cool, dark, and dry location. You may also freeze them for later use.

These are the ways you can harvest and store your Thai basil. Enjoy the fruits of your labor by adding fresh flavors to your meals.

You now know how to grow, care for, and protect Thai basil. You also have a few ideas on how to harvest his crop.

This plant doesn’t take much work, but the little effort it does require could prove well worth it when you enjoy your first meal enhanced with Thai basil.

Key Takeaways:

  • Thai basil seeds typically germinate in ten days under even moisture and indirect lighting.
  • When multiple seedlings sprout in a single cell, select the strongest plant and remove the others.
  • Water Thai basil plants deeply and ensure the soil remains evenly damp to encourage root development.
  • Mulching around Thai basil plants helps control weeds and retains moisture.
  • Apply all-purpose fertilizer once a month during the summer for optimal growth.
  • Pinching the tops of Thai basil plants promotes bushier growth.
  • Thai basil can be propagated from cuttings by placing them in water until roots form and then transplanting them into well-draining soil.
  • Damping off, fusarium wilt, and leaf spot are common diseases that affect Thai basil, requiring proper prevention and treatment.
  • Aphids, Japanese beetles, and slugs are common pests that can be managed with insecticides or alternative methods.
  • Harvest Thai basil by cutting the foliage from the top and store it in water or dry it for later use.
  • Seeds can be collected by allowing the plant to go to seed and then rubbing the dried seed heads over a container.

Using Thai Basil

Ways to Use Description
Flavor subtle anise or licorice flavor
Fresh Leaves add to salads, stir-fries, and curries
Dried Thai Basil add to cooked meals to impart its flavor

Learn More About Thai Basil

The post How to Grow Thai Basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora) appeared first on Gardening Channel.



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