Last summer, one of my basil plants began wilting, and some of the leaves turned yellow and brown even though it was getting plenty of afternoon sunlight. It made me think about if afternoon sun is even good for basil or if morning sun is better, so I decided to do some research, and what I learned helped me save my basil plant.
Basil plants generally grow better when they are exposed to morning sun rather than afternoon sun. Basil plants should get 6-8 hours of sun per day, ideally in the morning. The sun in the afternoon can be too intense for basil plants and can damage them if they are exposed to it for too long.
I have done some research and thought back on my own experience with giving basil plants morning and afternoon sun, and I have written this post to tell you everything you need to know.
Can Basil Tolerate Afternoon Sun?
Basil plants generally require around 6 hours of sunlight per day but can thrive with as much as 8 hours per day, but if basil gets too much sun or the sun is too intense, the plant can become damaged or even die.
So while basil plants can generally tolerate a lot of sunlight, the type of sun it gets matters a lot since the sun can sometimes be too strong for the plants.
Basil can tolerate afternoon sun throughout most of the year, but in the warmest 2-3 months of the year, the sun in the afternoon can be too strong and can damage the basil plants. As a whole, basil plants prefer morning sun over afternoon sun, but afternoon sun is fine if it is not too strong.
In my experience, July and August are generally too warm, and the sun is usually too strong where I live for basil plants to survive if they get direct sunlight in the afternoon. But before July and after August, my basil plants usually thrive even in the afternoon.
So to sum it up; any sunlight is good for basil as long as there is not too much of it. You can read more about what “too much” means in my other article on this link.
Now I’ll specify precisely what is meant by morning and afternoon sun and after that, I share some tips for where to place your basil to give it the optimal sunlight.
What Qualifies as Morning Sun and Afternoon Sun?
With all this talk about morning sun and afternoon sun, let’s put some numbers on it so you can know exactly when your basil plants should be in the sun.
As a general rule, “morning sun” is considered to begin at dawn and end at noon, and “afternoon sun” is considered to start at noon and end at 6 pm (18:00), after which it is considered “evening sun”. Morning sun is less intense than afternoon sun and is therefore often better for garden plants.
An easier overview:
|Morning sun||Dawn to noon (12 pm or 12:00)|
|Afternoon sun||Noon to 6 pm (18:00)|
|Evening sun||6 pm (18:00) to dusk|
Basil plants usually do not wear watches, so it is of course not a problem if you don’t follow these times perfectly, but try to keep them in mind and try to get your basil plants out of the sun by around 2 pm (14:00).
Now that you know that basil plants generally prefer morning sun over afternoon sun and what exactly defines morning sun, I will help you determine where the best spot for your basil plants is.
Where to Place Basil Plants for Best Sun Conditions
Basil plants can grow and thrive both in containers or pots and directly in the ground, but they are a bit easier to manage in pots when it comes to sunlight since you can move them around as needed.
I generally prefer to grow basil in pots or containers since they are easier to take care of and move around throughout the summer.
I usually find a good spot for my basil plants in the spring where they can get enough sunlight until July or August, which is when the sun is the strongest where I live. Then, around the beginning of July, I move my basil plants to a spot where they get sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.
If you are growing basil in pots or containers, put them in a spot where they get 6-8 hours of morning sun but are shielded from the sun in the afternoon.
If you are growing basil directly in the ground, try to find a spot where the plants are exposed to the sun from the east but are shielded from the sun from the south and west since this is where the sun comes from in the afternoon.
If you can find a spot in your garden where your basil plants can get plenty of sun from the east and south-east but are at least partly shielded from the sun from the south and west, they will most likely do very well, as long as they get the hours of sunlight, the water, and the nutrients they need.
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.