How Long Do Basil Plants Live

One of the greatest herbs to plant both out and indoors is basil. It is the most common culinary herbs that can bring your cooking the next level. You can add it to salads, make an awesome pesto or use it as effective seasonings for such dishes as casseroles, sauces and soups. Basil is also an essential ingredient in several home remedies, for example, treating mosquito bites or relieving coughs.

The more valuable basil plants are, the less you want them to die young. Here are what you may want to know: how long do basil plants live and how to extend their life as long as possible.

The lifespan of basil plants

Basil, particularly sweet basil – the most popular herb to grow – is an annual. However, there are also other basil varieties that are more endurable and can live a perennial life.

Nevertheless, we cannot pinpoint a precise time frame for the survival of a plant. If basil plants grow in a cold place, they will probably die when there are any severe temperature drops; otherwise, they can live up to a year. One thing to keep in mind: you should try not to let your basil plants bolt, or flower. Bolting, which is the reminder that the plant is about to die soon, only takes place when the plant suffers from adverse conditions.

But if it has come to bolt and to seed, you can choose to wait for the seeds to form then dry. What you should do now is to brush the seeds off by hand and let them seed themselves. Though this may take longer time for your next crop.

So, knowing your basil plants are in which stage can help you better decide when to plant new seeds. Basil goes through 3 distinct parts for its life cycle:

Juvenile stage: This is the stage when basil plants grow to around 13 inches high with the most leaves. You can cut leaves on top for your meals, but make sure you let bottom leaves there for them to continue to grow.

Transition stage: The second stage in a basil’s life cycle is when there are not many leaves on the plant. Most plants can only sustain up to three cuttings by the end of this stage.

Productive stage: In this stage, the plant ends up blooming with flowers. At the same time, it produces no leaves. Then the plant dies after giving seeds.

Best conditions for basil


Basil can healthily grow in both containers and pots. Make sure the soil there is well-drained by leaving a thin layer of gravel before you add soil and. You can also add a little compost to the soil for better results. Keep in mind that soil in the container dries out much faster, so regularly water so that it can sustain the moist.


The best place for basil to grow must have adequate sunlight and be sheltered from cold and wind. Often, basil plants can grow from 13 to 25 inches tall depending on the variety. So, you should give each plant a space of about 12 inches between them. Thus, your plants can have enough space to ‘breathe’ – better air circulation! You can grow basil outside in the garden, or inside your kitchen.


Warm environments are vital for basil growth. The plants need from six to eight hours of sunlight everyday. Especially in Southern area, they can grow well in the afternoon shade. Yet, don’t let your tender plants directly face the east, the scorching hot sunlight can be too much for them.


Basil plants grow well in moist and well-drained soil with pH ranging between 6 and 7. Since you will continually harvest the plants for a lot of leaves, you should give them fertilize in an adequate amount. But, you should only add nutritious compost when you start planting basil. No more soil amendments down the way. If the soil gets too rich, the flavor intensity of basil leaves will decrease. You definitely don’t want this to happen, right?


Basil thrives in moist soil rather than soaking in too much water. So, you should water the plants when the soil gets parched to the touch, usually at least once per week. Remember to water at the base instead of all over the leaves. This way, basil roots can absorb water and diluted nutrients from the base, rather than having their leaves and stems dripped.

Tips for growing basil plant

“How long do basil plants live”, apart from providing the best conditions for their growth, you can follow some tips below to help them live longer:

Pinch the plant when it grows to 6 inches in height to boost lush growth. When its flowers start blooming, remember to pinch the entire stem that produces flowers instead of only the flower itself. This helps the plant continue to grow for leaves and prevent its flavor from getting bitter.

In case you’d like to harvest the seeds for your next crop, just leave the flowers going to seed until the end of the season.

Only pick the leaves on top, and let bottom leaves there for neat growth

To intensify its flavor, do the trimming once every week. The more the plant is harvested the stronger the flavor becomes.

Planting basil together with tomatoes can help enhance the flavor of both.

If basil is yellowing or is producing pale green leaves, this is the sign of lack of nutrition. In this case, add fertilizer to the soil once a month, and especially keep an eye on indoor plants. Do not feed the soil too often because this can worsen the flavor of the herb. Overwatering also affects leaf color this way.

To preserve basil leaves, you can freeze, dry or make pesto.


How long do basil plants live? As mentioned above, as an anual, basil plants will finally flower then die, even when they are grown indoors. But by providing it the best conditions for its growth, you can definitely extend its lifespan as longest as possible. How long do basil plants live