How to Stop Basil Plant Wilting

Basil Plant Wilting

When it comes to homegrown herbs that people love to keep, basil is always at the top of the list.

Not only is the herb incredibly easy to grow, but it’s delicious and versatile, being the perfect addition to soups, salads, pasta, and various other dishes.

Growing a basil leaf is usually the starting point for many home gardeners because of its abundance and easy maintenance.

However, it’s not all smooth sailing, as those with a basil plant of their own will know just how quickly the delicate leaves can start to wilt and droop.

How do you stop a basil plant wilting then?

There are a few key factors at play that might be causing your basil to wilt including sunlight, temperature, water, and pests.

Checking each of these off and making sure the growing conditions are good is the best way to bring your basil back to life.

If you’re one of the many home gardeners with this delicious herb on hand, there’s no doubt you’ve experienced the basil plant wilting from time to time.

This guide will walk you through why it happens, what you can do about it, and how to ensure the very best life for your favorite green herb.

The Trend of Home-Grown Basil

The Trend of Home-Grown Basil

Home cooks who spend a lot of time trying out new recipes or experimenting with flavors will be no stranger to basil.

The delicious herb is found in so many types of cuisine and is the perfect companion to everything from pizza and pasta to soups and salads.

Along with its flavor, the reason for basil’s popularity is how easy it is to grow and how quickly it spreads and flourishes on its own.

It’s a good first choice for newcomers to gardening, does well indoors and outdoors in a sunny spot, and doesn’t need a lot of hands-on attention, ticking all of the boxes for what a dream plant should be.

However, for all of its simplicity, basil can be severely affected when conditions aren’t right. Most importantly, basil needs around eight hours of sunlight a day but it doesn’t do well when things are too hot, so finding the balance can be tough.

You’ll normally see signs of trouble from your basil plants like wilting, spots, and a lifeless look, with a fix available for most of them.

Why Is My Basil Wilting?

At the first sign of a wilting or droopy basil plant, panic might set in, especially if this is one of the first herbs you’ve ever grown.

Basil is known as being pretty tough but its soft leaves can easily droop which leads to problems that will affect the whole plant if not rectified, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a plant killer.

Before you consider anything sinister, you’ll need to check off the basics that all plants need to survive.

Make sure you’ve got all of this coveredso your basil lives in the perfect conditions and then consider the more serious issues that might be causing the wilt if it doesn’t rectify itself.

  • Water: There’s a fine line between too much and not enough water when it comes to basil and either can lead to wilting. Too much water might have leaves turning yellow at first and then drooping, so give it time to dry out more between watering. If the leaves are drooping and turning brown and crispy, this might indicate a plant that hasn’t been watered enough.
  • Temperature: Basil thrives in warmer weather and it won’t tolerate anything under 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live somewhere cold, basil will have a better chance of living indoors with good sun. During summer when temperatures rise, move it out of its usual sunny spot and give it some extra watering and extra shade to counteract the heat.
  • Sunlight: A drooping basil plant might not have enough sun, as this is a plant that needs full sunlight for best results. New leaves will be slow to grow and the plant will seem stunted when it’s not getting enough sun, so make sure you’re aiming for eight hours a day of direct light. Too much sun can cause leaves to slump over as well, but usually only when there is additional heat, so temperatures need to be monitored.
  • Soil: Nutrient-rich soil is required for basil to grow and its leaves to be sturdy, as is regular fertilization with a product suitable for vegetables and herbs. The soil should be well-draining to prevent root rot and other conditions that cause wilting as well.
  • Pruning: A basil plant will flower regularly but without pruning of these flowers, the rest of the plant will be affected. As the flowers take most of the nutrients and water, the rest of the plant will suffer, and this causes drooping leaves. When flowers emerge, pinch them off or prune them back so the rest of the plant stays healthy.

Serious Causes Of Basil Wilting

Serious Causes of Basil Wilting

If you’re certain that your basil is wilting because of something more sinister, you could be right.

Once you’ve made sure the plant has the ideal living conditions, gets enough shade and sun, isn’t too hot or cold, and has nutrient-rich soil, these are the other conditions that could be responsible.


Basil is a treat for many common garden pests including spider mites, aphids, and other insects. These pests like to suck the sap from the plant which means the leaves start to droop.

If you suspect or see pests, use an insecticidal soap spray in the late afternoon when temperatures are cooler and the sun isn’t directly on its leaves.

Fusarium wilt

This common fungal disease is known for causing droopy and wilted leaves, as well as yellowing.

If you think fusarium wilt is the problem, it’s time to get a new basil plant and new soil altogether, as it can 12 years for the issue to be rectified.

Check seeds and plants thoroughly and look for ones that have been tested specifically for this condition.

Root rot

As the name indicates, root rot happens in the root of a plant and it can be hard to detect at first because the issues are underneath the soil.

However, a basil plant with root rot may have drooping leaves and be wilting, without any obvious causes. To prevent root rot, the soil in your pot must be easy to drain and it should never be left soaking wet or bone dry.

The Easy Way to Wilt-Free Basil

The Easy Way to Wilt-Free Basil

Like any other plant, basil requires the perfect combination of watering, sunlight, and soil to grow its best and prevention is better than the cure.

If your plant is wilting and you can’t find an obvious solution, making sure each of these elements is taken care of will be the best approach to figuring it out.

Although regarded as a hardy herb to grow, basil isn’t completely care-free, so be prepared to keep an eye on its growth and see what changes need to be made.

With a little bit of TLC, you’ll be rewarded with a delicious herb that heightens the flavors of just about any dish and the satisfaction of knowing you grew it yourself.

Related Questions

Basil is one of the most popular herbs that people grow at home, whether it’s on your windowsill or in a dedicated vegetable patch in the backyard.

If you want to know more about growing herbs successfully, we’re here to help with the answers to some of the gardener’s most commonly asked questions.

What Are the Easiest Herbs to Grow?

If you want to grow more than just basil but don’t have a lot of gardening experience, there are some herbs known for their easiness.

Chives, parsley, oregano, dill, and mint are some others you can grow from seed to matured plant without much gardening expertise up your sleeve.

Which Herbs Grow All Year?

Choosing an annual or biennial plant ensures that it grows fast and will give you a continuous supply of the herb.

Herbs that fall into this category include basil, dill, parsley, and coriander, and they’ll do better when the seed is sown during spring.

A perennial herb takes longer to grow but can still give a decent ongoing supply, including rosemary, mint, thyme, and sage.

Will Herbs Survive Winter?

Depending on where you live and how cold the temperature drops during winter, you might be able to plant some herbs that will survive the harsher seasons.

The best cold weather herbs are mint, chives, parsley, thyme, oregano, and sage, so opt for these if you live in a cool climate.


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