Is Sweet Basil A Perennial?

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Last Updated on October 30, 2022

Sweet basil is a type of culinary herb that is mostly used in our various cuisines all over the world. But do you know if sweet basil is perennial or annual?

Basil is a very useful herb that many gardeners love to grow. We also love to incorporate them in our meal because they will offer our meal that distinctive flavor and they can be used in salads, pizza, pasta, and many other dishes.

There are many varieties of basil and sweet basil is one of them. But when it comes to growing sweet basil, most people often wonder if sweet basil is a perennial or annual plant.

Is Sweet Basil A Perennial Plant?

So, is basil a perennial? Perennial plants return or grow back after a year. Annual plant on the other hand does not grow back each year.

Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) also known as the common basil and this is an annual plant and not a perennial plant. This implies that sweet basil needs to be replanted every season. Usually, the sweet basil variety doesn’t grow back after a year. There are however some basil varieties that are perennial.

Where you have a frost-free location, the sweet basil variety can act as a short-lived perennial plant. It may survive or live up to two years in warmer climates before replanting.

Is Sweet Basil A Perennial Plant

Sweet basil tend to be annual because they are warm-loving plants and very sensitive to cold weather and frost. Therefore, before the weather in your region changes to cold weather, ensure you try to preserve your sweet basil plant for the following year.

If you however want to enjoy your sweet basil for a longer period, you can plant container basil that you can always move indoors as the cold weather shows up. You will however need to supply the indoor sweet basil plant with sunlight and steady warm temperatures. This may help the sweet basil plant last longer.

Does Basil Come Back Every Year?

So, does basil grow back? The sweet basil variety does not come back or grow back every year because it isn’t a perennial plant but an annual plant.

Therefore, it is usually required you plant new seeds or new cuttings every year especially during spring. During summer, basil seeds are produced. Then they will eventually flower and grow seeds once fall is around the corner. Then once the first frost arrives, the plant growing season is over.

Growing Sweet Basil

Basil is a warm loving plant that will only thrive well in the warm season. You can grow basil from their seed or simply form their cuttings. But for germination to take place successfully, the seeds will grow and germinate well in temperatures of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or below can stunt the growth of basil or may even cause them to get damaged.

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Growing or sowing basil seeds during cold temperatures can stunt the growth as well as damage the plant. It’s best to germinate basil plants in a sunny spot.

You should begin to see sprouting starting from 5 to 7 days of seed sowing so far you meet the right growing conditions. You can as well sow your seed indoors and transplant them in the outdoor garden.

Adequate watering is also needed in growing sweet basil. Basil loves a sunny location with plenty of moisture. However, the soil should not be waterlogged.

A soil with good organic content is as well required for the successful growth of basil. Soil that is low in nutrients may slow down the growth of basil and it may even result in less flavorful basil.

Indoor Basil Growth

Growing basil indoors is also a great idea. It is possible to grow basil all year round indoors using containers. You can grow basil outdoors during summer then you take them indoors during fall.

Basil plants can grow fairly well indoors during winter in your containers. All you need do is supply the plant with warm temperatures. You can make use of a grow light when there is an absence of sunlight or warm temperatures.

But if growing basil indoors takes much of your time and effort, you can simply save basil in the summer so it lasts through winter. The stem should be harvested and you should strip the leaves from every stem.

Then spread the leaves in a single layer and allow them to dry out. You can also freeze them in a single layer keeping them frozen in an airtight container.

Is Re-seeding Possible With Basil?

A basil plant that is healthy and robust can definitely reseed itself if you leave it to flower. This is because naturally, the plant’s natural lifecycle is meant to germinate, flower, and yield seeds.

Some basil seeds can simply fall into garden soil and may germinate without any assistance. You may be lucky to find some tiny basil that has gone to seed in your garden the next summer already sprouting.  However, re-seeding by itself isn’t so reliable.

Saving basil seeds from your plant for the following year is usually required to help with the re-seeding of the basil plant. Ensure you select the seeds from the healthiest of your basil plant once they go to seed.

However, other gardeners may prefer to buy new seeds from time to time just to have some variation.

Is Re-seeding Possible With Basil

You can easily re-seed basil by just sprinkling the seeds all over the top of your soil or potting soil. It is this easy to sow because they are very tiny and they don’t require presoaking or deep burying into the soil.

They will simply germinate successfully with adequate sunlight and an appropriate watering scheme.


Does basil come back every year?

Basil is one of the most popular herbs in the garden. It's easy to grow, it produces lots of fragrant leaves, and it can be used for everything from cooking to making pesto.

As a perennial, sweet basil is technically classified as a biennial.

This means that it blooms and sets seed only once during its first season. So you may get a few blossoms and maybe some seeds in your first year of growing. But it won't produce new foliage or flowers until the following season. This makes it much more challenging to grow than annual herbs such as oregano, thyme, and chives. But if you have a sunny garden spot and lots of water, you can still enjoy sweet basil year round.

Does sweet basil regrow?

It does not grow back after the first year.

Basil is an annual plant. It flowers and sets seeds in its second year, then dies back each fall and starts over again the next spring. It’s a short-lived plant, so you should try to harvest it as soon as it starts to flower, before the flowers turn brown. That way, your basil will have the most flavor. 

When should I grow basil?

When it came to growing basil, I knew it had to be done in the summer, when the weather is hot and dry. Basil grows best in soil that’s rich in organic matter and can tolerate high temperatures. It also needs lots of water.

The biggest problem with basil is that it’s hard to keep it alive. The stems are long and thin, and they tend to dry out quickly in the heat. To keep it alive, I used a lot of water. The plants need about an inch of water every day, which is more than you might think.

Can you keep a basil plant year round?

Yes, you can keep basil year round. You'll need to keep the plant indoors, but it will grow quite well under artificial light.

There are several ways to do this:

1. Directly under a fluorescent or incandescent bulb. Place the bulb directly over the plant, with the base of the bulb about 1" above the top of the pot. The bulb should be on for 12 hours a day, and off for 12 hours a night.

2. Use a soaker hose to water the leaves.

3. Water using a timer, which is often used for hydroponics. Set the timer to turn on the water at night, and set it to turn off during the day. This will keep the basil healthy, but may not provide enough light for the plant to grow.

4. Use a bright, full-spectrum fluorescent bulb for 12 hours a day, and use a full-spectrum bulb for 12 hours at night.

If you have a container that will hold about 1 gallon of water, you can keep your basil all year round. You may want to add some fertilizer or a liquid food every 2-3 weeks.

Is Sweet Basil A Perennial Plant: Final Note

So, on a final note, we have now learned that sweet basil is an annual plant and not a perennial plant. However, sweet basil can act as a short-lived perennial plant in areas that have favorable sunny weather and frost-free location.

There are so many ways to use or integrate sweet basil in our various meals. Sweet basil is a great herb used as a flavor in soups, stews, meat, tomato dishes, egg dishes, fish, and herb ginger.

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