How Often Should I Water Basil Plants – Fix Overwatering Tips

It is one of the popular herbs in US, UK and around the world. Basil leaves are renowned for its flavor and scent. Native to India, but you can grow basil or tulsi indoors in a container around the world.

It’s not tricky to grow basil, but you must make sure to mind its watering needs from time to time.

Does basil need a lot of water?

Basil plant loves water but it must have good drainage if you’re growing it in a container or pot.

This herb is grown for its aromatic leaves. So, regular watering keep it’s foliage look healthy and green.

However, you must know how often to water basil plants. Without which you may end-up overwatering the plant and resulting in root rot.

Water frequency depends on temperature and climactic conditions in your place.

In summer you must water basil more frequently and if you’re growing indoors due to cold climate, then watering once every couple of days will work.

As a thumb rule, insert your index finger in the growing medium (soil) and if you find it moist then you don’t have to water, else, you must water generously.

Basil plant needs at-least 1 inch of watering once in a week. This will allow the plant to develop its root and eventually it will contribute towards healthy growth.

Important to Know: Best Growing Conditions of Basil

This plant comes from tropical Asia, so it like heat but it also needs moisture too.

Growing medium i.e. soil pH is very important. Make sure the pH of your garden soil ranges from 6.0 to 7.5. (1)

  • Basil needs 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Plant location plays vital role in growing healthy basil plant.
  • However, basil can’t survive in winter. To protect them, you might need to dig basil plants and shift them indoors.
  • After shifting basil plant indoors (in winter), you should provide them with plenty of light using grow lights for about 9-10 hours.
  • Fertilizing basil once or twice in growing season will be enough for it to produce attract foliage. Excess use of fertilizer can damage the plant growth.
  • Water basil plant generously once every week to increase the growth of root system.
  • Though basil root system needs enough moisture, the plant doesn’t do well in soggy soil. Make sure the container in which you’re growing has a drainage hole.

Must Read: Are Eggshells Good for Basil Plants?

How Often Should You Water Indoor Basil (Container)?

The most important ingredient when growing plants indoors and especially herbs like basil is light. If you’re growing basil indoors in a container then make sure you provide them with artificial lights for about 10 hours.

After sunlight, basil needs moisture or water to make its food.

Start by watering your basil plant in container (indoors) once in a week. Check out the plant’s soil, if the soil surface is dry by end of the week; increase the frequency to water twice per week.

Depending on your climatic/temperature conditions you can increase or decrease the watering frequency of basil plant.

Important tip: You can use mulch to reduce the moisture evaporating into air.

Also Read: When Is It Too Late to Plant Tomatoes?

Watering Basil Plants: Outdoor

Watering needs of plants growing indoors is different from outdoors plants.

Even if you’re growing the same basil variety, you might need to increase the watering schedule for outdoor basil plants.

Basil planted in garden need less water more frequently. If you’re living in tropical regions then you must water your herbs twice per day.

With increasing heat the soil loses its moisture. Frequent watering will keep the plant healthy and it can effectively make its own food.

Growing basil in outdoor container: Plants in containers need more water than those growing in backyard. Also, make sure the container has drainage hole to remove excess water.

Potting Soil for Growing Basil Plants in Container

Choosing best potting soil for growing basil in container will help the plant to thrive. Else, wrong potting soil will results in overwatering and the plant can eventually die of root rot.

Basil plants need well drained soil, slightly acidic and organic fertile soil.

You can either use potting soil available online or make your own by mixing 1/3rd of garden soil, 1/3rd of organic compost and 1/3rd of perlite. You can also add coco peat instead of perlite to improve the drainage of the soil.

Check this out: How Often to Water Asparagus Fern?

Thumb Rule to Water Basil Plant

Watering frequency directly impacts your plant growth and it depends on the climatic conditions in your region.

You must also consider plant location and growing medium before watering basil plant.

As a new gardener you might check for a thumb rule to water this herb.

Most gardening experts recommend inserting your index finger in the growing medium and if you find it dry then water the plant, else you must wait for a day or two.

After a couple of weeks, you’ll surely know the watering frequency and you don’t have to insert the finger to check.

How to know you’re going right?

Fortunately, your plant tells you if you’re overwatering or underwatering. You must checkout its foliage.

Check this article: Best Soil for Chilli Plants

Overwatering Basil Plants and How to Fix

Out of care most new gardeners, overwater the plants. Though, plants needs moisture to make its food, excess water logging in the pot can result in root rot.

Wilted and yellow leaves can be sign of overwatered basil plants.

Apart from wilted foliage, stunted growth, young leaves turning yellow and no new growth are common signs that you need to check to confirm if you’re overwatering your plant.

How to fix:

First, make sure you opted for best potting soil. If the soil in the container isn’t well drained, then it clogs water resulting in overwatering.

To fix overwatered basil plant, stop watering it for couple of days and keep the plant under sunlight. This will dry the growing medium and then slowly start watering your herb.

Start watering once or twice in a week. Then increase the frequency if needed.

Underwatering Basil Plants and How to Fix

Bone dry soil, wilting leaves and slow growth of plant are classic examples of underwatered basil plants.

Underwatering plants happens when you’re on a vacation and there is no one who can water your plants.

Or you might actually not watering your plant enough. You must always consider your climatic conditions before watering your basil plant. Else, you may overwater or underwater your herbs.

How to Fix:

Compared to overwatering it’s easy to fix underwatered plants.

All you’ve to do is to start watering the plants and make sure that the plant gets enough light, but not exposed to high temperatures.

How to Take Care of Basil Plants?

Knowing how often to water basil plant isn’t enough to grow healthy basil plant. You must be aware about its growing conditions and potting soil the plant require.

  • If you bought seedlings from nursery, then make sure to transplant it to a mid-sized pot. This will allow the plant to retain moisture and root system will grow rapidly.
  • Experts recommend growing more basil plants in one pot. This will allow getting attractive bushy basil plant. But, don’t over crowd them.
  • Seeds don’t need sunlight until they sprout. Once the seed starts sprouting, you must provide bright sunlight for them to grow.
  • Basil seedlings need 6-8 hours of bright sunlight. In case you’re growing indoors, try artificial lights for 10 hours.
  • Pruning will push out the plant and it will get much steadier with time.
  • Just like light, water is also important aspect of grow healthy basil.
  • If you see the plant isn’t growing on normal pace, then you might issues of overwatering or underwatering. Fix it early, before the plant dies.
  • Frequent watering will wash away the nutrients in the soil; you can fertilize the basil plant twice in growing season.


Watering basil plant is an essential phase of growing them.

As mentioned earlier, climate, temperature, plant location and potting soil are things that need to be considered before watering any plant.

Basil plant is native to tropical Asia. It needs good hours of sunlight, so the watering frequency must accordingly to keep the soil moist.

Check the soil by inserting your finger for dryness. Water if the soil is dry, else you’ve to wait for a day.

Plants grown in containers must have good potting soil and drainage hole. Else, overwatering the plant will result in stunted growth.

Mulching can reduce the escape of moisture into the atmosphere.

Start watering basil plant once or twice in a week. Increase the watering if you notice the soil is drying by end of the week.

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