How to Grow Basil up North

How to Grow Basil up North

Basil is a warm, or even hot climate plant and living in the North of England or further north makes it challenging to grow at least. This shouldn’t put you off too much if you love Basil leaves in your summer cooking. We’ve put some tips together for success.

Basil leaves are an essential for summer cooking.

What Basil needs.

Basil loves warm compost, warm nights and hot days. To offer this in the UK and especially in the north of England, a conservatory would be the ideal place to grow Basil in pots.

Outside growing Basil in pots from June in the sun but with the ability to cover with ‘cloche/dome’ or bring your pots in over night when the weather for cast warns of colder nights.

Basil growing conditions.

Sowing Seeds

Sow basil at home or in a heated propagator 4-6 weeks before the beginning of June, when you can pot them for outside. Sow a cluster of 4-5 seeds directly into a 10cm pot of Multipurpose compost for ease.

Buying ready grown plants.

We sell plants from late May, from our heated houseplant greenhouse. These are grown by our specialist growers for transplanting into pots for home growing. Basil plants from supermarkets are grown at higher temperatures to force them to grow quickly for instant use in your kitchen. They are not suitable for home growing.

Multi sow basil seeds into your pots

Growing seed raised or ready grown plants.

Basil needs a minimum compost temperature of 10˚C, but prefers 18˚C compost temperature. At night an air temperature below 12˚C will stunt or damage the roots.

Grow in a multi-purpose compost that has been allowed to warm in a warm place for 24 hours after filling your pots . Basil like water (tepid water is best), but doesn’t like water logging so make sure the compost can drain well. Watering in the evening should be avoided at the cooler night temperatures and the extra water may damage the roots too.

Basil needs sun for 6-8 hours but under glass direct sunshine may scorch the leaves. Indirect light / light shade at the hottest time of the day would be advised.

Feeding : As you grow your Basil plants successfully you will be picking leaves to add to your summer menus. To keep them growing regular feeding with a seed weed based food such as Maxicrop is ideal.

Cultivation tips :

Potting up

Seed sown young plants grown in a seed tray or multi section tray should be potted into 10cm wide pots with multipurpose compost once the seedlings have framed their first true leaves (usually these will be young plants with 4 or more leaves). Remember to allow the compost to warm indoors for 24 hours before potting.

When these plants are 15cm tall busy plants re pot them into 20cm wide pots of multipurpose compost.

Bought plants can potted straight into multipurpose compost & 20cm pots after warming the compost.

If growing an a greenhouse or conservatory remember to give some light shading. If you are growing on a patio pick a warm suntrap & consider buying some Bell Cloche domes to put on over night or on wet cold British summer days.

Pinching – makes plants bushy

Seed Raised – Once you young plants have 6 leaves, pinch (snip) above the second set of double leaves. This will make the plants bush out. Every time these shoots have 6-8 leaves pinch the tips off to keep them growing bushy new growth. *After 6 weeks from potting pinch the centre growths out to prevent flowering. Use the pinched stems and leaves in your cooking or stand them in water to use them later.

Bought plants – Follow the advise for pinching plants in the paragraph above from the *.

Harvesting & keeping

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Basil & Tomatoes – Staples of the Mediterranean diet.

You can start picking leaves once the plants are 15cm tall. Leaves are produced rapidly at temperatures over 25˚C. Harvest in the morning when the leaves are ‘juciest’ (full of water). Even if you don’t need any leaves pick them regularly anyway to make sure the plant keeps producing new leaves.

Any ‘spare’ leaves can be frozen whole or chopped by placing them in a resealable plastic bag placed in the freezer. You can dry leaves too by laying the leaves only on a tray in a well ventilated place indoors in the shade. If not completely dry after 3 days place them in an oven on the lowest heat with the door ajar. Turn the leaves occasionally during drying. Store in a dry resealable bag or an air tight plastic bag.

Freezing preserves more flavour than drying.

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