- Basil likes rich, healthy soil. Start with good quality potting soil and amend with slow-realese all-purpose NPK fertiliser, compost or fish based fertiliser.
- Basil likes plenty of water. Don't let the soil dry out completely between watering. Give it a good, deep drink every other day on cool days and every day when it gets warmer. Water around the base, not from the top, in the cooler times of the day.
- Basil likes to be fed regularly. If growing in pots, fertilise every fortnight with an all-purpose liquid fertiliser such as Phostrogen or fish emuslion if you can get hold of some to get the most aromatic leaves.
- Basil likes sun. Place it somewhere where it gets at least 4-5 hours of sunlight daily. In our region, it may do well to give it some afternoon shade while the heat lasts.
- Basil likes to be pinched back. When your plant is well established and has reached a good height, snip off the main stem just above the pint where you see two new shoots emerging. This will encourage your plant to branch out and become bushier. As these branches become bigger, repeat the same process.
- Basil likes to be picked regularly. There's no hard and fast rule really. Everyone has their own way of picking herbs. If you need a few leaves, pick the larger individual leaves at the bottom that are threatening to turn brown. If you need a whole bunch such as when making pesto, snip off branches as described above. Merely picking lots of leaves will leave the branches looking ugly.
Most common leaf problems such as brown/black spots are caused by over- or under-watering and water splashing onto the leaves that can transport soil-borne fungal and bacterial diseases to the plant. Also, water droplets on the leaves in hot sun is not a good idea as it can burn the leaves.If you spot browning on your leaves, the first thing is to check your watering and location of plant. Too much sun here can usually cause leaf edges to curl and brown. Move it around a bit to see what helps.