How do I keep basil alive?Home » Blog » McGregors » How do I keep basil alive?
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Q: I can't seem to grow basil. I've tried giving it sunshine, shade, lots of water, hardly any water … whatever I do; it turns yellow and withers away. What am I doing wrong? –Melanie
A: Basil is an annual summer crop only, so if you have tried to grow basil at the end of autumn or through winter then its failure won’t be any fault of yours.
Yellowing leaves are a sign that the plant is hungry and as basil is a heavy feeder it needs lots of food during its growing season. Give it a fortnightly liquid feed with McGregors Vege Max fertiliser – this can be applied with your watering can and will benefit all your plants, so use it freely.
You can also give your plants a good start by preparing the soil. Before you plant add a couple of handfuls of compost to the soil mix and then dig the hole for your plant. As you plant, add a handful of blood and bone to the soil, and water it well once planted.
Basil likes plenty of sun and lots of water, but you need to water it regularly and consistently. Water in the morning or evening so the leaves are dry before the sun is out. If you have grown your basil in pots, watering is even more important as pots will dry out much quicker than the garden.
I always reduce the initial height of my basil as I plant. This is done by pinching out all the tips, and this will encourage bushier growth and produce a sturdier plant.
When I need to use basil during the summer, I remove the leaves by taking the leaves and the stalk from the centre of each growing point rather than rather than pulling off random leaves. This keeps the plant bushier and give you a better crop rather than a tall straggly plant.
–Sandra Johnson, Team McGregor's
McGregor's is a passionate team of gardeners with collectively more than 100 years of gardening knowledge. They aim to provide affordable, good value quality products that make gardening tasks as easy as possible.
Team McGregor’s is committed to supporting the younger generation of today and does so through their partnership with the Garden to Table and 5+ a day trusts as well as the creation of the McGregor’s Seeds in Schools fundraiser, all to encourage homegrown produce and healthy eating.
Send in your questions and be in to win!
Send in your gardening troubles to email@example.com and all questions answered in this column will win a fabulous prize from McGregor's! Melanie has won a packet of McGregor’s VegeMax.
VegeMax is a granular controlled fertiliser containing a balanced NPK ratio for optimum plant growth and trace elements for extra health, making plants more resistant to disease, insect and pests.
The rate of nutrients released increases in warm weather when plants need it the most, and less in cooler weather when plant metabolisms slow down. One application will feed most vegetables through to harvest.