You might not want your favorite basil plant to die. You may want it to live forever in your garden, right? But like other plants, your basil’s life cycle will come to an end someday. But you surely would want to know how long your favorite basil can keep your company, right?

So, how long do basil plants live?

Basil might survive for 2 years. With proper care and warm environments, your basil may survive for 2 years in warm weather. Also, they may survive longer if you plant them indoors. However, basil is an annual plant that is usually supposed to survive for one year long that starts from growing through seed till perishing after bolting. 

Basil is not a perennial herb that continues its life from season to season. But it may behave as a tender perennial herb in a warm climate.  Besides that, there are some perennial varieties of basil too. So, if you want to keep your basil living for a long time, you surely have to save it from cold temperatures and give it warmth as much as possible. 

Let’s dig deeper to know more about basil’s life cycle and how to keep the basil plant alive for a long time. 

Table of Contents

The life span of basil

As we all know basil is an annual herb but it can survive like a perennial herb under some conditions. However, it is an assumption that basil can live for 2 years or more but usually, their life span is no longer than one year.

Generally, when the basil started bolting, their life cycle almost comes to an end. That means basil will start to produce seed and die after that. Besides that, basil can’t survive in cold temperatures.

Basically, basil has 3 different life stages during its whole life. We can identify them as:

Juvenile Stage

In this stage, basils tend to grow at least 12 to 13 inches long. This is the time when the basil has most of the leaves of its lifetime. During this span, you can cut some leaves for your using or storing purpose. But you should be careful about cutting the large leaves only. Leave the small leaves to grow fully.

Transition Stage

This is the second stage of basil’s life span. During this time, the number of leaves on the started to decrease. Your basil can endure two or three cuttings before ending its life. You should have the cuttings of the stem with a gap of two to three weeks.

Productive Stage

The last stage is productive span which basically means the production of seeds. In this stage, the basil started to bolt. When the basil started to produce flowers, it stops growing leaves. You may notice white or purple flowers on your basil.

If you don’t want to end this basil’s life then clip off the flower bud from the plant as soon as you notice them. Or else, you can wait for the flowers to turn into seeds. Once the basil seeds dry on the plants, you can brush off the seeds from the plant using your hands.

Which basils are long-lived?

Basils are considered as the summer herb. But the perennial types of basil can grow all year round and last longer than the popular annual basil varieties such as sweet basil. There are some perennial basils that you can pick:

Greek columnar basil

This basil usually can grow 30 inches tall and 24 inches wide. The upright growth habit of this basil will make it easy to cultivate for you. It is ideal for a small size garden. The green leaves are full of fragrance and strong flavor. So, you can add these tasty leaves into your pesto, soup, pasta, or pizzas easily.

Pink perennial basil

This perennial basil can grow to almost 60 inches in height and 40 inches in width. The leaves are a little bit hairy and slightly purple in color. The flowers of this basil cover the basil bush during summer. Provide plenty of water to the plant and you will get some succulent leaves to eat. This basil is strongly preferred for cooking because of its strong smell. You can add this fresh basil to your Italian meal, soups, stews, or to your mayonnaise.

White perennial basil

This growth of this basil is the same as pink perennial basil. But its leaves are softer and larger than the pink perennial basil. Besides that, it grows white flowers. The fresh basil leaves of this variety are also considered a good one for cooking.

The dos and don’ts to save the basil plant

One day your basil’s life will obviously come to an end. But if you don’t give proper care and attention to your basil, it can die earlier than the usual time. On the other hand, your basil can survive longer than the usual time if you give proper care to it.

That’s why you have to do something and not to do something. Well, what are they, right? Don’t worry I am here to share the dos and don’ts for your basil plant. So, let’s jump to the description.

11 dos to follow for your basil plant

  1. Many gardeners like to put their basil indoors as their indoor plants. Planting your basil indoors will be a good decision because in this way you can save your basil from winter frost.
  2. Use large size containers for planting the potting basils. You can choose a 12-inch container for that. This will give you the scope to use more soil and more soil means longer water retention. Besides this, you can use some mulch for better water retention.
  3. Make sure there are enough drainage holes to drain the excess water out from the pots of basil so that you can keep your soil moist not soggy.
  4. As basil is a sun-loving plant, make sure it receives almost 5 to 6 hours of sunlight regularly. Besides that, direct sunlight from the morning sun can give warm temperatures to your basil that is an undeniable need for basil. If you don’t get enough sunlight, you can manage it with artificial grow lights.
  5. Basil can be tall around 13 to 25 inches based on different variations. So, you should make space of about 12 inches between the plants so that they can get enough space to grow.
  6. Basil needs loose and well-drained soil to grow. The soil can be slightly acidic with a pH of 6 to 7.
  7. Basil does it best when gets moist soil. It basically needs at least 1 inch of water per week. So, soak the soil and basil’s base with water whenever you feel the dryness of the soil.
  8. Prune your basil when it reaches the height of 6 inches. It will help your basil to grow into a bushy plant. Besides that, pinch out the stem with the flower as soon as you notice it. It will help the plant to grow leaves. Or else you can allow the flowers if you want to produce basil seeds.
  9. For the healthy growth of the plant try to pick the large leaves from the top. Leave the bottom or young leaves for growth.
  10. It’s good to trim your basil once per week as the flavor of the leaves will increase with the increasing number of your harvesting.
  11. Companion planting works best for basil. So, plant basil with tomatoes, lettuce, or peppers to increase the taste of both harvests.

9 don’ts to follow for your basil plant

  1. Don’t add too much soil amendment otherwise, the taste of your basil will be ruined.
  2. Don’t put in too much fertilizer. It is better to use liquid fertilizer when the basil starts to grow more and more leaves.
  3. Try to avoid the afternoon shades by not putting your basil in an east-facing windowsill. 
  4. Don’t over-water your plant as it can affect the flavor intensity and color of your basil. Besides that, wet soil can attract fungal diseases. 
  5. Under-watering is another cause for the death of the basil. Like over-watering, under-watering can be a threat to your basil. Basil thrives in water, so without water, the leaves will start wilting or your basil may droop.
  6. Cold weather is not for basil. Basil can’t survive at a temperature lower than 10 degrees Celsius. That’s why don’t put your basil in a cold place. It’s better to keep the basil indoors during winter. Low temperatures can turn the leaves brown.
  7. Don’t put your basil in a shady place. Your basil will die if it gets less than 4 hours of light. So, it’s better to put the basil on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights.
  8. Don’t overcrowd your basil. Basil likes to grow with space. That’s why put the basils keeping at least 12 inches gap between them. In this way, your plants won’t have to fight for nutrition.
  9. Last but not the least, basils tend to bloom in adverse conditions. So try to give your basil enough sunlight, water, and fertilizer.

Few last words for you

This popular herb can live a little bit longer with a little bit of care and love. Besides that, there are some perennial basils that can provide you with a bountiful harvest of fresh herbs throughout the year.  So, feed you basil sunlight, water, and fertilizers. Also, follow the dos and don’ts. That will be enough to get a healthy basil plant that will live for a longer period. Happy gardening!