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Basil problems

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi all, I'm new here and was wondering if anyone can diagnose my problem. I bought a small basil plant at the supermarket as I heard that they are easy to grow. Since it came in a small little pot, I transferred it to a new one - about 10" diameter and similar depth. Anyway, a few days later, and the leaves are wilting a bit, but more importantly, the edges are drying out and turning a dark greyish color. Underwatering is certainly not an issue as the soil is moist to touch. And i have not yet watered it yet so I doubt overwatering is either. Lastly, it's on a window that gets southeast exposure. ANy ideas? Thanks
post #2 of 17
It's probably going through transplant and sun shock.
Basil is a pretty tender plant. The little plant you bought was probably grown in a greenhouse somewhere. The shock of moving from filtered bright light to a full blast of southern sunlight is too much for the little thing.
Keep his soil moist, but not wet and move him to a place that is bright, but with a little shade, like on a covered porch or even under a large plant. Then gradually move him to a more sunny locale.
His leaves will wither and drop off, but then some other new leaves will begin to grow from the stalk.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
OK, but i should also note that even though it's got semi-southern exposure, it still doesnt get much direct straight-on sunlight as I live across the street from a 6 story apartment building and, additionally, there is a large tree on the block, both of which block most direct sunlight. But it's comforting to know that it isn't doomed. Thanks.
post #4 of 17
Might be worth trimming the plant back a bit after transplanting so its not having to try and feed so many leaves. This should also end up with more bushy growth in the long run. Also, get yourself a spray bottle, fill with water and give it a mist spray couple of times a day. It would have been raised in a greenhouse I'm betting, and depending on how dry/ humid your room is, that may be affecting it.

Basil can be fussy, but they sort of come and go, healthy to not looking well, then back again.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #5 of 17
First off, welcome to Cheftalk.

I don't understand your transplant strategy. Why did you use a pot of the same depth? Normally you'd go with a deeper one, so there's plenty of room for root growth.

That aside, basil is weird. It should be the easiest herb to grow. But it's often finicky, particularly when being transplanted. It shocks very easily then. But recovers rather quickly, too.

I recently send a bare-root Genovese Basil plant through the mails to my son in Florida. It arrived wilted, and the stem soft. Wouldn't even support its own weight when he potted it.

But in a few days it was standing tall and putting out new growth.

I'd suggest, however, that other than monitoring the moisture, you leave the plant alone and see what happens. I'm betting it will recover, although you might lose most of the original leaves.

I'd also suggest that once the plant takes hold, you add some fish emulsion or other high-nitrogen fertilizer. This will promote leaf growth.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
I did put it in a pot with more depth, i probably just have the measurements wrong. Yeah, I guess I just need to be patient about it. As for the nutrients, the lady at Home depot who sold me the soil said that it's got fertilizer/food that should last for 3 months, so i think ill wait a bit - like u said, just leave it be.
As an aside, what would you folks say is the easiest herb to grow indoors? By easiest I mean: not so sunlight needy, not picky about the kind of soil, not overly finicky about watering, can use fluorescent lighting, etc. Basically, just wants to be left alone and grow alot. Thanks.
post #7 of 17
I planted 4 basil into my yard a couple weeks ago. The bugs went crazy on the leaves and its withered back a bit. Looks really sad.

That happens every year and they perk up again and get busy with growing and supplying leaves for the kitchen.
post #8 of 17
Be careful about over watering and over fertilizing. Many herbs prefer slightly harsher conditions. In the 6+ years I've had my herb garden I have never admended the soil and very rarely water, unless things are seriously dry. In spite, or because of that, I have been rewarded, year after year, with plentiful growth and harvests. In fact I have a tarragon and a sage plant that I dont' think I could kill now if I tried. I general, though I agree it is probably just shock. Every year I plant basil and every year I get concerned its not going to make it and it always does.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #9 of 17
Let's look at the class "herbs" more closely.

First thing to consider is that they are all weeds. If you ever tour the Med. region you'll find most of our common herbs growing wild on the hillsides.

Many of them: rosemary, sage, tarragon, lovage....are herbacious perenials that do not require much care. They are semi-arid in nature, and need little in the way of extra nutrients. Once you establish them you'll have them forever. Sage is an exception, in that in tends to run out after two or three years.

Others are perenials but not herbacious. The mints, and everything in the mint family (you can always tell one of them because the stems are square) are perenials, usually vineous or at least trailing. They, too, can survive nicely with little help from the gardener.

Some, such as parsley and sorrel, are biennials. They produce only leaves, the first year. The second year their goal is to go to seed (and, in the case of parsley, produce large roots). These usually require only watering, the first year, but benefit from extra nutrients the second year.

And then there are the annuals, such as basil. The annuals tend to be more tender, and require better care than the others. But even with them, nutrients in the ground and water from the sky are enough for survival.

However, all this applies to plants that are growing in the ground, in zones they are rated for. Once you put them in pots and other containers, all bets are off due to the nature of container gardening.

Because 1. they are elevated above ground, and 2. contain a limited amount of soil, containerized herbs, like other potted plants, require greater care than those in the ground. They have to be watered more often, because containers dry out exponentially faster than the ground around them. And, because you are watering frequently, the nutrients in the small block of soil tend to leach out. Thus, you have to periodically replace them.

In addition, what the plant needs for survival, and what we expect from the plant, are not always the same. With herbs we're looking for a steady supply of leaves & stems to use in our cooking. In order to encourage foliar growth, we therefore fertilize appropriately. And that means nitrogen.

As to growing indoors, all herbs do well under fluorescent lights. That's one way we grow them over the winter. All you need are cool-white bulbs, and a way of adjusting them so they are only a couple of inches away from the top of the plants.

One more thought. For those who can't find plants or seeds locally, many herbs---particularly the herbacious types---readily grow from cuttings. Which means the herbs you buy in the supermarket, in those plastic clamshells, can be turned into plants.

This year, for instance, I started oregano, majoram, tarragon, mint, and thyme that way.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 17
I grow Basil right out in full Arizona sun. Do have to water every day and I replant twice since it goes to blooming and even with keeping it cut back it tries to bloom all the time. Put new seeds in today, its so easy to grow. Last year I got " Best of Show " at our County Fair with my Basil :D.
post #11 of 17
hhmmm....Basil! My favourite herb...
Good on everyone 4 growing in soil...hate the hydro stuff!
KYHeirloomer is right on the money...thanx
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"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
Allen Saunders, 1957.
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"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
Allen Saunders, 1957.
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post #12 of 17
I just wanted to add that my basils have always responded better to morning watering rather than evening, they tend to shut down a little in the evening and droop if watered late in the day, but I never had a problem putting them in full sun. But hey...this is England LOL.
post #13 of 17
Of all my herbs basil can be hard to get going or they simply don't make it and die. As stated here my problem has been with the Thai basil, the bugs love it also the purple curly leaf basil is sensitive too(?) like to over or under watering. I am the queen of oregano and sage and rosemary, so it's not all defeatest.

How many kinds of basil do any of you have? Here's what's in my yard:
Thai
Cinnamon
Chocolate
Pineapple
Bush
Curly purple
Sweet
Tiny
Large leaf regular
...All anyone ever does is complain....stop griping and start being thankful...be grateful...be appreciative...
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...All anyone ever does is complain....stop griping and start being thankful...be grateful...be appreciative...
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post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
jees, all i've got is sweet and lemon...but my basil plant has finally started to get its act together. I think it was lack of sun. If you live here on the east coast (NYC specifically), June was about as sunny as a bat cave. July has brought some nice sun though and my plants are liking it especially the basil.
post #15 of 17
KYH, there was a large sage in my yard when bought this house in 1993. It's still going strong and sending up offsets I have to dig out all the time.
post #16 of 17
Basil should be okay, you might be able to do chives but they'll want a winter rest I think. Coriander would also probably do well. Maybe parsley but it depends on how much you need. The problem with growing herbs in the house under normal fluorescent is that for the aromatic ones, the flavors that we value in them come from oils that the plant secretes on the surface of their leaves. The reason for these oils is to help the plant conserve water (hence the intense scent of many of the Mediterranean herbs). If the plants don't get the intense sun, they don't produce as much of these oils.

As for nitrogen fertilization - it's good for the green leafy ones like parsley and coriander, also basil and dill. But you'd want to be a little more stingy with the nitrogen for the real aromatic herbs; they typically come from poorer soils and won't do so well with lots of nitrogen.

Finally as for basil - this is a truly tropical plant. Most failure with basil stems either from transplant shock as another poster noted, or from starting the seeds too early, before the weather is warm enough. Basil likes it warm, and I've found that if you start it too early, it might germinate but tends to be scrawny and never really catches up to plants that were sown in good conditions. Once the plant wants to flower, you really can't stop it; this is also a matter of daylength. What you want to do is get as much growth on as you can before that happens. So sow as soon as you can provide the necessary warmth and in the case of basil, use a good rich soil mix. On the bright side, the flower buds have some of the highest concentrations of the essential oils.

To the list of basils to try, I'd also add lime basil - I grew it a few years ago and it was amazing!
post #17 of 17
Sounds like transplant shock.

Give it a week and see if there's any change. Chances are you will lose the original leaves, but new growth will replace it.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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