How Often to Water Basil Plants

Last Updated on August 15, 2022 by Stephanie

Basil is a plant that does not have an established woody structure that can help it grow and so depends on a continuous supply of water in the soil as well as constant transpiration to provide the structural strength (know as the turgor pressure) to ensure that the leaves and stems of basil dont wilt or fall.

It is important to water basil as often as is necessary in order to ensure that the soil remains moist, but not boggy. Basil loses its luster when the soil is drying out. Most of the time, you should water your basil at least once, each 3 to 4 times per week, to ensure that the basil is healthy. Alter the frequency of watering when sun exposure or temperature rises, in order to keep soil water.

The amount of water you need to give basil will vary based on the type of basil you plant in pots or soil in the garden and the amount of sunlight exposure, and also according to your climate.

Heres a useful overview of the frequency at which you should water basil in order to keep the health of the plant and prevent root rot that can be caused by excessive watering:

When watering basil , it essential that you soak your soil (rather than a gentle watering) because this helps roots to develop and grow in the soil, which improves the hardiness of the basil and its resilience.

Always water your basil early in the morning to fill the plant up with water prior to the possibility of a hot and dry day ahead.

There are a few important aspects in the care of basil that determine the frequency at which basil plants need to be watered, for instance the dimensions of the pots or containers they are grown and whether the soil is modified and mulched using moisture-retaining compost, and if you are watering established plants or seedlings.

Continue reading to find out more about how to water basil in accordance with different circumstances…

Watering Basil in Pots and Containers

Containers and pots are ideal for basil cultivation because they are able to drain well and allow you to control the soils profile when you plant basil on a good compost that helps retain water ( well watered plants are essential to the flavor and scent from basil leaves).

Pots of water basil and containers about every three days during the spring and summer months to keep the soil damp and to prevent the basil from dying.

But, basil is most flavorful aroma, flavour and the quantity of leaves it is in full sunshine and during very hot days, the pots may dry quickly, which could result in the plant to turn brown.

basil leaves

The best way to reduce the chance of dry soil is by:

  • Be sure to monitor the soils water content during hot weather by examining at a depth of a finger to determine to see if there is moisture. When the soil appears dry, provide the plant with a thorough soak to ensure that the water drips through the drainage holes at the bottom of the planter. If you keep an eye on it, its simple to determine the frequency of watering your basil in order to ensure that the soil is always damp to ensure that the plant remains healthy in the climate you live in.
  • Basil plants are larger pot. Basil is able to thrive in smaller pots, but the plant thrives best in larger pots of minimum 12 inches in diameter. The larger pot has more soil , which means it is able to hold in moisture, so you will not need to regularly water your basil. Smaller pots tend to dry out too fast in full sunlight, which causes the basil to wither because of stress.
  • Utilize clay, terracotta or ceramic pots to plant basil instead of metal or plastic pots and containers. The basil you buy from gardens is often planted in plastic pots that are thin. The plastic pots that are thinner and metal pots absorb sunlights heat more effectively than pots made of clay, ceramic or Terracotta. The soil heats up quickly when the sun is shining, and results in water vaporizing out of the soil, meaning there is less moisture available for the roots of your basil plant, causing it to die.

The best way to plant basil is in the right size pot constructed from clay, terracotta or ceramic. The basil will be watered each 3 to 4 days during the summer months with an adequate soak. If youve had an days with overcast skies and some rain the basil might only need irrigation once a week.

(If the basil plant is dying, check out my article on the reasons why basil wilts, and the best way to fix the issue).

Top tip: Basil requires soil that is moistbut well-drained to avoid excessive water and boggy soil around the roots, which can cause issues like root decay.

To keep this balance, plant your basil in a pot that has drainage holes that let excess water escape. Avoid the use of drip tray or placing the basil pot on a saucer, as this could trap the excess water and result in the soil becoming overly swollen instead of draining well.

If youre cultivating basil in your home, put an old towel underneath the basil pot in order to let the water drain out of the pot, and also to stop the water from spilling onto the window sill or your furniture.

Containers and pots are the most effective way to stop slugs from eating basil. Check out my article for an effective way to stop slugs from eating your basil pot that actually is effective!

Watering Basil in Garden Soil

How often you need to water the basil plant in the garden soil may differ depending on a variety of variables, including the weather, wind rain, humidity and temperature.

If the basil is located in a fertile soil which has been amended by lots of compost in order to hold moisture , and the area surrounding the basil is well-groomed with an mulch, then the basil needs to be watered twice every week during hot weather, and once per week during cooler weather to ensure its structure is maintained and ensure the health of the plant.

The more leaf mould, compost or manure you utilize to prepare the soil prior to planting basil, the more moisture is available to the basils roots and the plant will be more robust in periods of drought or the scorching sun.

Spread a 1-inch layer of compost to create an mulch on the surface surrounding the plant to ensure that the soil remains moist after watering and to reduce the amount of water that evaporates out of the soil on hot, sunny days.

Always make sure to water the basil near the roots , giving it a good soak to promote good growth of the roots.

If you live in a slow draining soil, such as clay, you must be sure to water your basil regularly and keep track of the soils moisture (slow draining soil may cause roots to rot) Or plant it in pots that has well-drained compost.

Basil requires humid soil (such as compost that is good) however slow draining soil that is boggy could cause root rot.

(Read my article on the best way to bring back the dead basil plant).

Watering Basil Seedlings

It is essential to keep an appropriate balance of moisture when basil seedlings grow roots.

Like all basil plants it is important to keep the soil moist and not let it become sloppy because this could lead to fungal diseases as well as root rot.

When seedlings are planted, careful monitoring of the soils moisture and the proper watering is more crucial than general guidelines for watering because there are lots of factors that could dry the soil out or keep its water content.

The watering of basil seedlings twice a week is generally the best option so long the soil is drainage, but it is able to hold moisture.

Since basil seedlings havent yet completely developed roots,, they are more prone to drought than established plants. Therefore, ensure that the uppermost inches of soil is always moist. Also, make sure to water the plants in the mornings so that they can ensure that the basil seedlings are hydrated with water prior to a hot and sunny Summer or Spring day.

Watering Basil Indoors

It is recommended to water basil indoors as frequently as every 5 or 4 days to ensure that the soil remains damp. Basil needs full sun, so place the pot on an open window and make sure the pot is equipped with drainage holes at the base to allow excess water to be drained away.

If you see the soil appearing dry on the surface, look for moisture up to a finger depth. If the soil appears to be damp, but it is getting dry it is time to give your indoor basil an adequate soak to ensure it is healthy.

Certain rooms in the house (such like the kitchen) are more humid, which reduces the rate of evaporation off the soil. It also helps keep the plant hydrated. However, rooms that have cooling or drafts will require frequent watering approximately every 3-4 days to prevent the basil from becoming wilted.

Pots that are smaller also dry out faster because they are less able to hold in the moisture. In small pots, water basil every two or three days, or better yet place your basil inside a bigger container (around 12 inches in diameter) which boosts the development of roots and also the condition of the basil, so that it will grow more leaves.

Key Takeaways:

  • The basil should be watered every 3 to 4 days to ensure the soil always damp. In hot temperatures and blazing sunlight, water the basil every 2 or 3 days to make sure the basil is adequately watered.
  • Check the soil for signs of rot and alter the frequency of your irrigation of basil plants based on the soil conditions in your garden.
  • Containers and pots typically require more water since they get hot in the sunlight. Select a bigger pot that is approximately 12 inches in diameter to ensure that moisture is retained in the soil. Avoid containers made of plastic or metal since they absorb heat more quickly and dry faster.
  • The basil in your indoor garden should be watered regularly every 3 or 4 days to ensure that it doesnt receive water from the soil. increase the frequency of watering if the soil begins to dry out.
  • Basil seeds require water almost daily to help keep the surface layer of the soil moist since the roots arent developing correctly.
  • Make amends to the soil of your garden using compost and mulch it to retain moisture. make sure you water your garden once a week.
  • Basil likes the soil to be moist, but not boggy, so make sure your soil well draining. Plant the basil in pots that have drainage holes at the base.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)