One of the best things about basil is that it can grow almost anywhere as long as it gets enough light. It can grow really well both indoors and outside, but there are some advantages and disadvantages to each way that you should know about before you decide where you want to grow it. I cover everything you need to know in this post.
Basil plants usually get larger and grow faster outside than indoors but are also more exposed to pests and diseases and at a higher risk of being overwatered by heavy rain. It is easier to grow basil indoors than outside since you have full control over the environment and conditions.
Below, I compare these and more advantages and disadvantages of growing basil indoors and outside and present it in a way that will make it easy for you to decide which way is the right for you.
Should You Grow Basil Indoors or Outside? (Pros and Cons)
Even though basil can grow really well both indoors and outside, one way might be better for you, depending on your situation and what conditions you can provide for the plants.
One of the challenges of growing basil is to provide it with the 6-8 hours of sunlight it needs, but if you have a place for it both indoors and outside that gets enough sunlight, you need to decide where you want to grow your plants. To help you decide, I have made a table comparing the advantages and disadvantages of growing basil indoors and outside.
|Advantages of growing basil indoors||Advantages of growing basil outside|
|It is easier to control watering||There is usually more sunlight|
|The plant is not exposed to bad weather||The plant has more room to grow|
|The plant is less exposed to pests and diseases||The plant requires less watering|
|It is easier to control the soil content and pH||Flowering basil plants attract bees and other pollinators|
The primary advantage of growing basil outside is that it is usually exposed to more sunlight and has more room to grow than indoors, which generally means that basil growing outside grows faster and gets bigger than basil growing indoors.
So if your goal is to grow the biggest basil plants possible, you should grow them outside.
Despite this, I personally prefer to grow basil indoors because it is much easier to control the environment and make sure the plant doesn’t get too much water and is attacked by pests and such. Basil plants growing outside may grow a bit faster and get bigger than indoors, but they are also more exposed to pests and diseases and bad weather, which may damage the plant severely. When growing basil indoors, the risk of these things damaging your plants is minimized.
If you don’t have a spot indoors that gets enough sunlight, you can always use grow lights. With those, you can grow basil all year round anywhere you want.
As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages to growing basil indoors and outside, but there is also the option of just doing both and seeing which you end up liking more.
Is It Easier to Grow Basil Indoors or Outside?
There are advantages and disadvantages to growing basil indoors and outside, but which way is easier?
It is generally a lot easier to grow basil indoors than outside since you have full control over the environment and conditions such as watering and soil type. Basil plants growing indoors may not always get as big as outside, but they are better protected from pests and diseases.
That being said, growing basil outside is not super difficult either and actually requires less maintenance since the plant is watered when it rains and typically develops a bigger root system that allows it to obtain water from the ground more efficiently. But you have to consider that it will be more exposed to bad weather and pests such as aphids and whiteflies.
If you keep your basil in a pot outside, it is a bit more protected from pests and diseases than if you put it in the ground, but it also has less room for the roots to grow.
There are a few things that are good to know about keeping basil healthy indoors, so I get into those now.
Keeping Basil Healthy Indoors (5 tips)
Keeping basil healthy when growing it indoors is slightly different from growing it outside. I have a couple of excellent (at least I think so) tips on keeping your indoors basil happy.
- Place your basil by a window that gets a lot of sunlight.
- Place your basil by itself to reduce the risk of diseases.
- Water your basil from the bottom to promote root growth.
- Only water your basil when the top of the soil is dry.
- Prune your basil often by cutting fresh stems above leaf nodes for bushier plants.
Giving your basil enough light is really important, but if it gets enough, the thing that most often seems to go wrong for people growing basil indoors is that they don’t water their plants correctly. If you want to be sure that you are watering your basil correctly, I recommend that you read the article on this link.
A great trick to extend the growing season and increase the number of leaves you can harvest is to remove the flowers as soon as they appear. When basil flowers, it will use its energy on growing flowers and producing seeds rather than leaves, and the leaves will begin to taste bitter. Removing the flowers as soon as possible diverts the energy back into growing and producing leaves, but for how long can you do that? I cover that below.
Can Basil Grow Forever Indoors?
The best way to keep basil plants alive for longer and extend the growing season is to remove the flowers as soon as they begin to appear, but can you just keep doing that forever?
No basil plant can be kept alive forever. Removing flowers will keep the plant alive for longer, but it will eventually dry out and die. Most basil varieties only live for one year, but some, such as Thai basil and African blue basil, are perennials that can live for a few years.
I have another post where I share eight tips to make basil plants live longer, so head over to that here if you are interested.
An excellent way to grow basil is to start the plants indoors and then move them outside later in the season when there is more sunlight, and the risk of heavy rainfall is lower. I explain how to do that and what you need to know when moving basil plants below.
Can You Move Indoors Basil Outside?
Starting basil seedlings indoors and then moving them outside when they grow bigger is an excellent way to get the plants off to a great start of their lives and then boost their growth by putting them outside where they can get lots of sunlight once they are established.
Basil growing indoors in a pot can be moved outside as long as the temperature doesn’t drop below 50°F (10°C). Either transplant it directly into the ground or simply place the pot outside in a warm and sunny place.
I once talked to a gardener from a nearby plant nursery about the best way to move basil outside. She recommended that I put the pot outside during the day but took it back inside at night for the first 2-3 weeks before leaving it outside. The reason is to harden off the plant and make it stronger and better prepared for staying outside.
If you have a basil plant indoors and you want to put it outside in the ground, you need to remove it safely from the pot without damaging it and then put it properly into the ground. This process is called transplanting, and I have another post (here) about how to easily and safely do that where I show you each step. The post is about transplanting basil to another pot, but the process is the same when you put it into the ground.
Read My Complete Guide to Growing and Caring for Basil
I have written a thorough guide where I cover all parts of growing your own basil including choosing a variety, sowing the seeds, the best growing conditions, pruning, propagation, harvesting, storing, solving various problems, and a lot more. You can find the article on this link.