Grow Your Basil Indoors For Year-Round Fresh Herbs

Your supply of fresh basil does not need to stop just because the weather has turned cold outside. Bring the basil in and enjoy an ongoing harvest.

Basil can be grown indoors year-round. If you continue to prune the plant and care for it properly, it will grow for months and sometimes longer. Make sure it has plenty of sun and a warm spot with air circulation and you will have basil for a long time.

Many people are quite surprised to find out how long Basil will survive indoors. When it is kept properly, you will have a continual harvest of basil all winter long.

You can also take last year’s harvest from outside, bring it indoors over the winter and allow it to go to seed. We will tell you how to do this so you have fresh plants for the spring.

How Long Will Basil Grow Indoors?

When cared for properly, basil can continue to grow indoors for many months or perhaps even years. There are some things you can do to stimulate growth and increase how much basil you are harvesting.

Basil grows well indoors when given light and water

The easiest way to stimulate the growth of basil is by proper trimming. This is something that can be done from the time the plant is young.

When the plant is very young, you can allow it to grow for a while and then trim the stem. If you trim it early and back to the first leaves on the main stem, a full and healthy plant will grow.

You can continue to trim the plant to stimulate growth for a longer amount of time. As the various branches continue to grow, trim them back to the earlier leaves and additional branches will sprout.

One issue that can occur with basil is for it to bolt. If you have a problem with your basil flowering, you should remove the flowers as soon as possible.

Allowing basil to flower can take a lot away from the strength of the plant. By removing the flowers, you allow the nutrients to enter back into the main plant, including the leaves that you harvest.

The only time you would allow your basal to flower is at the end of the growth cycle. This is especially beneficial for those who grow basil outside and bring it in for the winter.

In the late winter or very early in the spring, allow the plant to grow and bolt. When it flowers, you can then allow it to go to seed and harvest the seed for the fresh plants in the spring.

Of course, you don’t have to allow the plant to die and plant fresh basil in the spring. When cared for properly, basil will live for many years.

There is a problem with having a plant too long. Old basil plants will not be quite as tasty as young basil plants. The stem tends to get woody as well.

Essentially, there is no reason why a basil plant will not grow indefinitely if it gets enough quality sunshine, water, and TLC.

Can Basil Survive Winter Indoors?

Basil plants will survive the long, cold winter indoors if they are given a warm, sunny place to stay. Grow lights can also be used to grow a bumper crop of basil indoors while the weather is cold outside.

Young basil in an aerogarden

If you plan on bringing your basal indoors over the winter, there are a few things you can do to give it a running start.

In addition, you need to avoid some problems that could easily stunt the growth of the plant or perhaps kill it.

One thing you may be surprised to learn is that the basal often grows much better indoors than it does outdoors. That is because you can control the factors that allow it to grow, such as light, heat, and water.

When you bring your basil indoors, don’t do so all at once. If you are growing the plants in the garden, transplant them into pots and then bring the pots in at night.

Doing so will give the plant more time to acclimate to living indoors. You should also give attention to where you are going to keep the plant during the long winter months.

Basil loves sunlight so choose a location that is as sunny as possible. This will often be a windowsill, preferably with southern exposure.

Be careful about how cold things get at night. Many basil plants have been lost because the curtains were closed and the temperature dropped too much next to the window, killing the plant.

If you find that the area you chose does not have quite enough light, you can either use artificial light or move it to a different windowsill during the day.

You should also turn the plant occasionally to keep it from growing in one direction. Like any plant, basil will grow toward the sunlight.

Finally, you don’t have to have a sunny windowsill in order to grow basil. With a few grow lights, you can have a fresh supply of basil all year long.

How Cold Is Too Cold for Basil?

Basil will thrive when the temperature during the day is in the 70s and in the 50s at night. Beware of late or early frosts because they can kill a basil plant. If the temperature gets below 50, the leaves may turn black.

Basil is a hardy plant but if you allow it to get too cold for too long, it will start to suffer.

The first frost will likely kill basil, so keep your eye on the weather if you are growing basil outside in a pot or the garden. As we mentioned, you should also watch the temperature on the windowsill at night.

As the weather is getting colder, begin to move the basil plants indoors gradually. If necessary, transplant the basil from the ground into pots to make this transition much easier.

Basil and Dill grow together in the aerogarden

Basil will do well outside during the day when the temperature is in the 70s or higher. If the temperature is expected to dip into the 50s at night, or anywhere close to it, bring the plant inside.

You should also know that it is not necessary to have a frost in order to hurt the plant. As the nighttime temperature dips into the lower 50s or below, the leaves may turn brown.

If you are going away for any amount of time in the early spring or late fall, bring the plant indoors. It will do well inside, but if unexpected lower temperatures occur outside, it could stress or kill the basil plant.

About the time of the first frost, it’s time to give the basil plant a permanent location in your home.

Finally, it is best if you start new basil plants in the late winter or early spring. You can start them indoors by allowing last year’s crop to go to seed and harvesting the seed for the new plants.

When you grow new plants in this way, you may find that you eventually have many generations of the same plant and enjoy the flavors year after year.

Can you Transplant Basil from Outside to Inside?

It is easy to transplant basil from outside to inside. It allows you to enjoy a continual harvest year-round, even when the weather is cold outside.

Plants should be gradually moved indoors by bringing them inside at night when the weather gets cool. You can set them out during the day if the temperature is in the 70s or higher.

1. Select an appropriate pot that is at least 15 inches. A smaller pot is okay, but basil roots can be 18 inches deep so the deeper the pot, the better the growth.

2. Start by putting potting soil on the bottom of the pot. Dig your way around the plant, making sure to go deeper than the root.

3. After putting the basil plant carefully into its new pot, add additional potting soil to within one or 2 inches of the top. It will allow you to water the plants without spilling over.

4. Give the basil plant plenty of water at first but be cautious not to drown it. Check the soil regularly and keep it moist.

You can reverse the process to put the plant back in the garden the next spring. Many people prefer to start a new plant, as old basil plants don’t produce leaves that are as tasty.

As you can see, it’s not only possible to grow basil year-round, you can grow it year after year. A continuous harvest of basil is not only fun, it is a tasty treat in many dishes.


I love doing things around the house. I'm taking my years of experience as a homeowner and a full-time handyman and putting them here for your benefit. When I'm not writing, you can find me on the beach watching the waves come in. Call me Tom or Tommy, it's all the same to me.

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