The Complete Guide for Sweet Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) Care

The Sweet Basil, otherwise known as the Ocimum Basilicum or Common Basil, Greek Royal, Kiss-Me-Nicholas, Lemon Basil, is a rather well known herb plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and fast growth, this herb will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, this is exactly what we’ll cover in this Sweet Basil Care Guide. So let’s dive in.

In order to take proper care of your Sweet Basil you’ll need to keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Water: The Sweet Basil grows best with regular watering to keep the soil moist during the dry season. Reduce watering once the plant is established.
  • Light: Keep your Ocimum Basilicum in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Sweet Basil in soil with well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of sand and loam.

That’s it – sunlight, water and soil! The basic 3 fundamentals for all plant care, and with the Sweet Basil this is no exception. With these three elements, your leafy friend will live healthy and happy.

Ocimum basilicum plants

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Sweet Basil belongs to the Lamiaceae family, the genus Ocimum and the species Basilicum, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Ocimum Basilicum (OSS-ih-mum bass-IL-ee-kum).

As with other Ocimum’s, the Sweet Basil is an evergreen plant, which means it will be present year round in your garden.

Growing Region

The Sweet BasilTropical Africa and Asia.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend to always keep in mind your plants’ native region and environment, since these are the conditions that your Sweet Basil is most accustomed to, thus where it can most favorably.

With this in mind, the Ocimum Basilicum will be most used to regions where the plant hardiness level falls between 10b, 10a and the ideal climate zone is between 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A1, A2, A3.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Sweet Basil is a relatively fast grower, which makes things tricky for any plant enthusiast.


But what exactly does this mean for your Sweet Basil? How large a pot should you consider, how tall, how wide can it get? Let’s jump in…

The Ocimum Basilicum can grow up to 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) in 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) and 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm) in 1′ – 2′ (30cm – 60cm). 

These dimensions make the Sweet Basil a relatively medium herb compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 18″ – 24″ (45cm – 60cm) free so the Sweet Basil can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Sweet Basil is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Ocimum Basilicum grows best with regular watering to keep the soil moist during the dry season. Reduce watering once the plant is established.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Ocimum basilicum care


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Sweet Basil in soil with well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage, and moist properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Sweet Basil then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Sweet Basil needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Sweet Basil prefers to have soil with good drainage, and moist properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of sand and loam.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Sweet Basil requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this herb will do well as long as you keep it in full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Ocimum Basilicum in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being an evergreen plant, the Sweet Basil will be present year round in your garden.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (late), the summer (early, mid, late), and during the fall.


You can expect your Sweet Basil to flower around the summer months from July to September (summer).

In particular, this herb is well known for its showy flowers around the plant enthusiast community.

The Sweet Basil produces some beautiful white, or purple/lavender, pink and white flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the Sweet Basil have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with a opposite organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Ocimum Basilicum to be around (1-3 inches) in size.

Ocimum basilicum buds

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Sweet Basil is well known for its tolerance to animals like rabbit and deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Ocimum Basilicum will be fine.


How should you then organize your garden to include your new Sweet Basil? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Most Ocimum Basilicum owners agree that this herb will look great in most cottage and mediterranean gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of informal and cottage styles. 

In particular, the Sweet Basil’s best location within your garden is in beds and borders, and in patio and containers, others use it for landscaping in a houseplant, border, container, or a kitchen garden.

Companion Plants

Sweet Basil’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Laurus, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Lavandula will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


And we’ve come to an end. Fortunately, that’s everything you need to know about your Sweet Basil to keep it safe and sound in your garden or home. Enjoy planting!

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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