How to Save a Dying Basil Plant in a Pot

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Basil grows best outdoors where it can receive adequate light and temperatures, but you can also grow basil indoors as long as it’s set in a sunny location. Whether you plant basil indoors as a natural fly deterrent — flies can’t stand the scent of basil — or grow the plant for use in your recipes, don’t give up on a dying basil plant; try caring for the plant as normal to revive it.

How to Save a Dying Basil Plant in a Pot
(Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Potting mix
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Scissors
  • Liquid high-nitrogen fertilizer
Step 1

Repot the plant to ensure that it is in well-draining soil. Replace the plant in a well-draining potting mix. Choose a pot with drainage holes to ensure that the water doesn’t accumulate and expose the roots to too much water.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 2

Sterilize scissor blades with isopropyl alcohol and remove dead or damaged leaves from the plant. Eliminating dead parts encourages energy to go to the undamaged parts of the plant.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 3

Water the soil around the plant until the top 1 inch of soil is wet, but not saturated. Don’t let the leaves themselves get wet. Pour off excess water from the soil surface as necessary. Allow the soil to dry out before watering it again, but keep it near other plants to increase humidity, or mist the plant with water between waterings.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 4

Set the plant in a south-facing window that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Turn the plant every day to ensure that all parts of the plant receive adequate direct sunlight.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media
Step 5

Apply high nitrogen fertilizer — diluted to half strength — every four to six weeks to the potting soil.

Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media

Tips & Warnings

  • Don’t harvest basil for your recipes until it has two to three sets of healthy leaves. Clip just above the pair of leaves to harvest the whole stem.
  • According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, basil only looks attractive in a container for about a year. If your basil is more than one year old, consider replacing it.
  • If using potted basil for recipes, don’t let the plant grow flowers or form seed; the plant will stop growing and become bitter.

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