GCT is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Does Basil Need A Lot Of Water?

Publish Data: June 11, 2021

by Mumtahina Piya

Basil is one of the easiest annual herbs to grow indoors or outdoors. Basil is a vascular plant that has no woody stem. That’s why it is dependent on soil for moisture and transpiration systems to survive. So, it is clear that you need to keep the soil moist.

But does basil need a lot of water?

Basil doesn’t need a lot of water. It needs almost 1 inch of water that is equal to 0.623 gallons or 2.36 liters every week. You just have to take care of the fact that the soil should not get dried out. If the soil dried out, your basil leaves will start to wilt.

The amount of water to put in the basil plant may vary with the change of the type of the basil or temperature. Besides this, the amount of soil you need to soak, or the weather demand may make a variation in the amount of water.

That’s why I am here to make proper guidance about watering your basil plant. Let’s dig in deeper.

watering basil plant

How much water you will need for your basil plant?

This annual herb might not need a lot of water but it surely needs consistent moisture. Basil is a thirsty plant. You need to keep the soil moist otherwise your basil may have drooping leaves. You can use drip irrigation for watering basil in a large space or a sprinkler for watering basil in a container. But how much water you should put in and how often you should water your plant, right?

Well, as we said earlier, your basil will need 1 inch of water per week. Besides that, you need to ensure the moisture of the soil is appropriate. But how will you maintain the timing for not do over-watering or under-watering, right?

For this, an assumption chart is presented here. This chart will guide you with the approximate watering time for your basil. Let’s go to check the chart.

ConditionsApproximate time for watering
Basil in containerWater once with a gap of 3 or 4 days to soak the soil properly
Basil in gardenWater deeply once a week. Mist the soil after every 3 or 4 days.
Indoors basilWater once with a gap of 4 or 5 days. Check the soil moisture first to prevent the soil from being soggy.
Hot weatherWater once with a gap of 1 or 2 days (container). Water once with a gap of 2 or 3 days (garden).
Cold, Overcast weatherDuring rainfall, water once per week (based on moisture requirement).
SeedlingsWater them once with a gap of 2 days. But if you feel the soil is drying out, you can water them every day.

Water for potting basil

When the temperature is high, you have to water the basil with an interval of 3 days. Due to warm temperatures under direct sunlight, the basil gets a good growth of leaves, flavor, and aroma. That’s why it needs a lot of water during this period of time. During rainfall, watering it once per week will be enough.
To prevent the soil from drying out, you need to check the soil moisture. Water the plant when the soil feels dry.
Try to put the plant in a larger container. Larger pots mean more soil that will give better water retention. This way, the soil won’t dry out quickly too. Besides this, using clay, terracotta, or ceramic pot can stop the soil from drying out too quickly.

Water for garden basil

If your garden soil is amended with compost or mulch and has good water retention then you can water the soil two days per week during hot days and once per week on cold days. Always water the base of the basil to maintain the healthy growth of the roots.
You can use 1 inch of compost for better water retention. If your soil is heavy clay soil then use compost for improving the drainage quality of the soil. Poor drainage can be the cause of rotting. Besides this, the more compost you use during preparing the soil, the more survival ability your basil will have.

Water for indoors basil

If you are planting basil indoors then you need to water it after every 4 or 5 days. There are some places in the house like the kitchen where there is more humidity. If you place the plant in the kitchen, you can water less frequently because high humidity will cause the water to evaporate less.

On the other hand, in the air conditioning room, the water may evaporate quickly and the soil will dry out soon. So, water the plant after every 3 or 4 days if you place them in an air conditioning room. Similarly, if you use smaller pots, the soil will dry out quickly. Along with that if you provide the plant a spot with afternoon shade, the soil will get fewer hours of Sun directly. As a result, it will be moist for some more time.

Water for basil seedlings

During developing roots, it is important to provide the seedlings proper moisture. Water the basil seedlings after every 2 days. But make sure the soil has better water retention quality. Soggy soil can lead to fungal diseases and root rot.
Basil seedling is more sensitive to drought than the entire plant. Without having an established healthy root, the seedling needs your extra attention with moisture balance.

What can happen due to under-watering?

Basil is a popular herb because of its easy maintenance. It can easily compromise with sunlight or fertilizer but it can’t survive without water. Without water, the basil leaves will start to wilt or drooping.

The leaves will look pale and turn out yellow. When the need for water increases, the leaves became dry. That’s why you must have to maintain proper watering. If needed, water them regularly to save them from wilting or dying off.

What can happen due to over-watering?

Many of you may think now that you can add water as much as you want. But why? Just because it can’t survive without water. But that’s not right. You need more or less than 1 inch of water per week but not too excessive.

Even over-watering can cause the leaves to turn yellow just like under-watering. The stems and roots of the plant may get rot. The plant may also stop growing and become tiny in size. You may also notice some blisters or corky bumps on the leaves. Besides this, an over-watering plant is friendly to fungal diseases.

9 Extra tips regarding watering

Besides all these, you can follow some extra tips for balancing the proper amount of water for your basil.

  1. You can add mulch to the soil or potting mix for retaining the soil moisture.
  2. Morning is the best time to water your basil plant.
  3. Every time you water the plant, just make sure you are not putting in too much water. Basil loves the moist soil but not the soggy soil.
  4. Make sure your container has enough drainage holes to drain water properly. Too much water can cause roots to rot as well as hamper the growth of roots.
  5. Avoid using trays under containers. It will hold the excess water and can make the water soggy.
  6. Just put your finger under the soil surface and check the moisture of the soil. If you feel the soil is dry under the surface, then adjust the water quantity with more water to maintain moisture.
  7. During the cold days, the soil surface might feel wet but under the surface, the soil might be dry. So, check the moisture of the soil properly. Then decide whether to water it or not.
  8. Basil in containers needs frequent watering. So don’t get the wrong ideas about the separate watering frequency for basil in your containers and garden.
  9. Some types of basil plants need less water such as African blue basil. So, if you have issues with frequent watering, then you can choose the drought-resistant varieties.

How to grow basil in water

Many people don’t like to work with soil but love to keep some nature around them. This bushy plant can be an ideal one to deal with then. This herb can be grown in water too. As a result, you won’t have to deal with soil.

So, now let’s get to know some more about how to grow basil in water. Here I have share 5 easy steps to grow basil in water.

Step 01: Choose the right basil cuttings

You can only use cuttings if you want to grow the plant in water. But you need to choose the right cutting to grow a successful plant out of it.
First, select a healthy and young branch from the mother plant. If you don’t collect the cutting directly from a garden center then you must be careful while cutting it from the mother plant. Remember to cut the branch with a length ranging between 4 to 6 inches. Make an angled cut just from below a leaf node. Try to make the cut from the bottom of the stem.

Step 02: Get the cuttings ready for planting

The cutting from the branch is your stem that you will plant in water. But before planting, you need to prepare it for planting.
Remove all the leaves from the bottom of the stem. Keep the leaves from the top one-third of the stem. It is better to leave 2 to 3 sets of leaves at the top. Remove all the flowers, buds, or large leaves too if there are any. Be gentle while removing as your stem is still a delicate branch and can get damaged easily.

Step 03: Plant the stem in water

Select a transparent glass jar with enough space. As your stem will grow and develop the roots inside the jar, the jar needs to quite spacious. Use non-chlorinated water for filling the jar. Fill the water until it covers 2/3 of the stem from the bottom. There should be no leaves left near the water surface or under the water.

Step 04: Taking care of the plant while growing

  • Basil is a sun-loving herb. That’s why it’s better to keep your basil pot in a sunny spot where it can receive at least 5 to 6 hours of light daily. A windowsill is a perfect place for keeping your jar where it can receive the morning hours of Sun. But it is good to avoid the harsh afternoon sunlight.
  • The little thing that needs your attention is to change the water of the jar after every 2 days. This will keep your plant free from bacterial and fungal attacks.  Besides this, make sure that the water temperature is moderate, neither too hot nor too cold. But if you are growing more than one plant in a large jar then you can change the water after 30 days.
  • Also, it will be better if you mix each 1 liter of water with 1 gram of N-P-K 20-20-20 that is a balanced fertilizer. It is better to fertilize it once per month.

Step 05: Time to harvest some basil

You can collect harvest once your plant starts to develop roots. It may take about one or two weeks to develop the roots. Young roots will appear at this time. This means you can collect your first harvest after one or two weeks of planting.
But it is recommended to wait at least for 4 weeks as during earlier days the roots are fragile. Within 4 weeks the plant will get stronger. So it is better to have some patience for collecting harvest.

Few last words for you

If you want to enjoy having some fresh basil throughout the year then you can easily grow some. Ensuring the right amount of water, adequate hours of sunlight, and light liquid fertilizer are all you need to grow basil.  But as we have already said that basil can consider sunlight and fertilizer but no consideration with water. So you need to put extra attention to water your basil plant.

Besides this, it is more convenient to grow basil in water as your hands won’t get dirty by those muds. Though you can’t grow basil from seed in water, it is still easier to grow with cuttings. So, I hope this article was helpful with your basil gardening. Happy gardening!