image

Make your supermarket basil last longer

Fed up with spending a fortune on supermarket basil? Follow our guide to making it last longer.

Basil is one of the most popular potted herbs, ideal on a kitchen windowsill to tear off as required and add to tomato and mozzarella salads, soups, sauces and home-made pesto.

However, the reality can be different. Within a few weeks the supermarket plant has often become leggy, yellow and a few steps from death. So, what did you do wrong?

So often basil wilts and dies within days. (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

So often basil wilts and dies within days

“The chances are it was simply a case of the pot being too small – the shops put a lot of plants into one pot to make them look bushier and more attractive. But very soon they outgrow this home and need a bigger pot,” says George Williams, CEO of plant care advice app SmartPlant.

“This can easily be solved by removing individual plants by the roots, and replanting them into a bigger pot.”

Here’s what to do:

Repotting basil

Repotting basil. (SmartPlant/PA)

Repotting basil

Fill the base of your new basil pots, which need good drainage holes, with multipurpose compost. One large supermarket-bought basil pot should make around five smaller plants. Split the existing healthy plant gently into sections, without touching the stem or the leaf, teasing the roots gently apart.

Plant them in the compost, packing compost around the plants to fill the pot, making sure the plants are at the same height that they were in the original pot, and water from below.

Choose a sunny spot

Basil likes sunlight. (Thinkstock/PA)

Basil likes sunlight.

Find a space with lots of sun, as ideally basil needs 10-12 hours of light a day.  Choose a south-facing window, or whichever one gets the most natural light. At sundown, a fluorescent grow light can be used to top-up the number of sunlight hours.

Be waterwise

Water but don't over-water. (Thinkstock/PA)

Water but don’t over-water

Basil likes moisture too – but not too much. Its soil should be kept moist, but not soggy, or its roots may rot. Make sure your  indoor container has good drainage.

Fertilising your basil plants every few weeks will keep them strong and healthy. Any household fertiliser will do, but use it at half the recommended strength.

Regularly check your plant for small insects. You can’t blame them for choosing the ‘Royal Herb’ as their palace, but make sure you wash them off – they aren’t good for your plant or your plate.

Keep harvesting

Pick leaves from the top. (Thinkstock/PA)

Pick leaves from the top

The beauty of this delicious herb is that harvesting its leaves encourages further growth, but only if you leave a section of leaves remaining each time. Pick leaves from the top, pinching just above a leaf pair, which will also encourage further growth.

Remove any flowers, which will dull the flavour of the leaves.

If you’ve got more basil than you know what to do with, you can either freeze it in ice, or dry it out and store it in containers.

The following two tabs change content below.

The Press Association

News from the Press Association - the national news agency for the UK and Ireland

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!