Watering basil

Water Leaflets on a Basil Leaf

Basil is a well-known herb around the world. If you’re growing your own basil plants, it’s important to consider the care it will require to stay alive. One crucial aspect of a basil plant‘s care is the water it receives.

Let’s take a look at some tips for watering your basil plants.

How often to water basil plants

When it comes to how often to water basil plants, the answer depends on a variety of factors. For example, is the basil plant planted in a pot or in the ground? Is it in direct sunlight or does it only get a partial day of direct sunlight? What has the weather been like recently?

Generally speaking, the best way to determine how often to water your basil plant is to check the top half inch of soil for dampness. As a rule of thumb, if it’s dried out, give the basil plant some water. If it’s still damp or moist in the top half inch, then no need to water the basil plant.

Watering basil seedlings

When it comes to how often to water basil seedlings, you want to make sure you give your young basil plant the water it needs for its early growth.

Sometimes basil plant seedlings are grown in bunches. These may soak up moisture faster, so keep tabs on the dampness of the soil for these seedlings.

It’s best to water them lightly more frequently than watering them a lot less frequently. Seedlings are more susceptible to “drowning” when they are overwatered. Too much water at once can also cause the plant to uproot itself, as soil washes away easier when the plant doesn’t have a solid root structure in place.

Plan on watering your basil seedlings every few days, or even daily. Keep an eye on the surface level dryness of the soil, and give the seedlings a sprinkle if it doesn’t look moist.

Basil seedlings are faster to show it if they don’t have enough water, so if the plant is wilting and the soil is dry, not enough water is probably the problem.

Watering an established basil plant

Established basil plants should be watered when the top half inch of soil is dry. Below are specific growing scenarios and information on how often to water the basil plant for each.

When to water basil that is planted outside

Basil planted outside is often healthier, as there’s more chance of direct sunlight, and airflow generally helps to protect it against disease.

Plan on watering your established basil plant a few times a week when it’s planted outside. If you’re not sure whether it needs to be watered, you can check if the surface level soil is moist, or if the basil plant is wilting.

When to water basil that is planted inside

Basil plants that are planted inside may not need as much water, as direct sunlight is normally not available. Be extra careful that you aren’t overwatering the basil plant inside.

If the basil plant is wilting, that could be a sign that it is under or over-watered. Keep track of how moist the soil is to know the difference before watering the basil plant more.

When to water basil planted in the landscape

Basil that is planted in the landscape is able to pull up some moisture from the ground, so it won’t need to be watered as much as basil plants are grown in a container.

When to water basil planted in containers

As mentioned previously, basil that is planted in a container will need to be watered more frequently since they don’t have natural water in the ground as a source of hydration.

Things to consider

There are numerous factors to consider when determining how often to water your basil plant. Factors like weather, sunlight, the season of the year, and spacing all play a role.


Spring weather is generally rainier in some areas, so you may not need to water your basil plant as much. Be careful that you don’t overwater your basil plant in a season with a lot of rain.

Sunlight exposure

Most basil plant varieties grow great in full sunlight, but in the heat of the summer, you’ll need to keep these plants watered well. 

Basil plants that are grown in full sun will dry out fast, especially if they are getting direct sunlight during the noon of the day.

Keeping the basil plant well watered in these seasons ensures that they’ll be able to produce healthy new shoots of fresh basil in the future.


Depending on the season, you may not need to water your basil plant as much. In the fall, when the basil plant is more established and the cooler weather sets in, you may only need to water the basil plant once a week.


Basil plants that are planted close together will compete for the same water, and as a result, you’ll need to water them more.

Tips for watering your basil plant

Here are some tips for watering your basil plants.

Your basil plant may wilt with too much water or too little

Keep in mind that a basil plant that is wilting does not necessarily always need water. Sometimes basil plants wilt when they have too much water.

Always check the soil dryness to determine if you should give the basil plant some water.

It may not be a watering problem, but a fertilizing problem

If the plant is wilting or looking yellow, it may not be your watering that is the problem. You may want to check the fertilizer level of the soil it’s planted in to see if that’s the problem.

Make sure your pot has adequate draining

If you are planting your basil in a pot, it’s very important that the pot has proper drainage. Basil is susceptible to root rot if water does not drain through the soil, so well-drained soil is essential.


If the basil plant needs watering a lot, you may want to re-pot the plant so that it has more soil to spread its roots in.

Watering your basil plant recap

In conclusion, there are many factors that will affect how often you’ll need to water your basil plant. The best and most simple thing to do is check the moisture level in the top half inch of soil to determine if it needs some water.