Foxtrot_01
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problems with basil plant

Hello all,
I bought a small basil plant from local supermarket about 18 months ago and I used to keep it indoor. About 15 months ago I went out of town for a week and the person who was going to water the plants never did and 50% of the basil plants died. I decided to transplant the remaining plant to a larger pot and make sure I took care of it. Some of the plants had turned brown on the bottom but still grew and were green on the top. I decided place the pot outside and it grew bigger and for the first time I saw flowers but still the stems on the bottom stayed brown. Most recently I have noticed that in one of the plants the leaves are turning or growing yellow, this is not the case on the other plants. All of them seem to have the brown bottom.
When they are outside I don't water them since they seem to have all the water they need. We are about to start fall so I am going to bring them inside soon. I was hoping it would propagate more and although it has grown in height I haven’t seen much dense growth.

Can anyone give me a possible reason why the trunk or bottom stem is brown? I might have watered it too much about a year ago after I came back and saw that it wasn’t watered for a whole week.
Is the plant rotting? How can I grow more plants, I heard that you can grow another plant with a 6 inch cutling but I am afraid it won’t grow
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rainbowgardener
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Re: problems with basil plant

That is normal. Old stems of basil get woody. It helps to cut it back frequently to keep new growth coming and don't let it flower. But don't cut back into the brown/ woody parts; it will not regrow from there.

Basil is an annual. It is genetically programmed to grow, bloom, set seed, and die all in one season. By not letting it bloom or set seed, you can prolong its life. But still it gets old and woody and less productive. Personally I would just start over, either from seed or by rooting a cutting from this plant.
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Foxtrot_01
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Re: problems with basil plant

thank you for your prompt response. I thought that the brown/woody part was because I had over watered the plant. So do you suggest I start cutting some branches to use as cuttings? I think I read somewhere that ideally it would be a 6 inch cutting and that you need to keep it in water for several weeks until it grows roots and it is strong enough to transplant. is this the best course of action?

Also, what is with the yellow leaves? is this also part of the aging? I had no clue that basil only lasted for about 1-2 years.

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ElizabethB
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Re: problems with basil plant

Hi Foxtrot,

Warm welcome to the forum.

Your basil is doing what it is supposed to do. It is an annual. It grows, produces foliage, flowers, goes to seed and dies.

Take a few 6" cuttings. Do not start them in water. Water roots are not the same as soil roots an will be a problem when you try to transplant to soil. Plant your starts in 4" - 6" nursery pots or in any well drained pots. Use all purpose potting soil without fertilizer. Start outside until the temperature gets down to the mid fifties. Bring inside and provide artificial light. Water the plants daily to keep the soil evenly moist. No pot saucers. Considering the time of year your starts should be rooted in 2 to 3 months. New growth will signal a decent root system.

A month after you get new growth plant them up to a larger pot.

Collect seeds to start for the next season.

Good luck

Looking forward to hearing more from you.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

pepperhead212
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Re: problems with basil plant

I am surprised that you had it growing for that long, since they are annuals! I kept one indoors for one year, just to see how long it would live, and it got very woody, and non-productive (or at least much less productive). Fortunately, the ones outside were already producing.

I watched an interesting show on commercial hydroponic production, and one of the things they talked most about was basil. One of the things they stated was that, although they will produce for 6-7 months, they only grow them for 4 months, as after that, production drops considerably. Sort of made sense, as I usually notice a drop in Feb., about 4-5 months after I start all of my indoor plants.

I have always rooted my basils in water, and have never had any trouble putting them in soil, when I put them out in the spring, or when I used to grow in soil indoors. I start cuttings about this time for Thai and regular basil, using a cloner, but I used to just put them in a cup, with filtered water, changing the water every other day, and in 7-10 days, I would have roots. The cloner does them incredibly fast, though, as with any rootings, some don't make it. One thing I have found that speeds them up is scoring the stems, cutting very shallow with a razor or very sharp knife, and these cuts are where I see the roots come out.

The best basil I have found for growing in containers or hydroponically (and I've tried a bunch of them!) is Serrata. Great flavor, like genovese, and a small, bushy plant, about 10-12" tall, and slow to bolt. I grow this and Siam queen in hydro for the off season, and only need one plant each, they regenerate so fast! Here is a photo of the serrata, rooted for 2 days in the cloner:
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rainbowgardener
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Re: problems with basil plant

There are a couple of these basil threads going on right now, with very similar issues and questions.

Here's the other one: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 29&t=65102

you might want to look it over, too.
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PhynomGarden
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Re: problems with basil plant

Instead of starting a new thread, I will ask a question very similar to the one in the start of this thread. I have a basil that started with the yellowing leaves. I finally got around to transplanting it into somewhat of decent pot with decent soil. The basil has started to bounce back. In fact, it has sprouted a host of big new leaves; however, the leaves are very soft and dull. I think when I bought the plant, the leaves were shiny and firm. Also, I keep the plant indoors very close to a south facing window. Could it be that I am over-watering the plant? I water the plant everyday. Since today is somewhat cool out, I am just going to skip watering the plant, and see what happens. Thanks in advance for any feedback...

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rainbowgardener
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Re: problems with basil plant

Yes, indeed! One of the commonest causes of yellowing leaves is over watering and daily watering sounds like way too much.

When you water, be sure you do it thoroughly, so that all of the soil is moistened and water is running out the drain holes. Then let it drain, do NOT leave water standing in the saucer, and don't water again until the top couple inches of the soil are drying out. If you have it in regular potting soil, that is likely to be a week or so....
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