Best Pot Size for Basil | Complete Guide & Growing Tips

Prior to planting in containers, it is crucial to thoughtfully assess the positioning of the pot, the necessary soil and nutrients, and the suitable size of the container for the intended plant.

What size pot for basil? One basil plant will happily grow in a half-gallon container, and while basil doesn’t mind growing close together, the more room you give it, the bigger it will get. Think of a pot as a home for the plant. Smaller plants require smaller pots, but they won’t get bigger unless they move out into something roomier. 

This is one herb that will give you an abundant harvest when grown in pots correctly. Check out our guide for growing basil in pots.

Growing Basil in Pots 

The number one thing to remember is to buy good quality soil specifically for container growing. This ensures your plants receive the correct nutrients and will have optimal water retention.

Does Basil Do Well in Pots?

Basil plants do great in pots, provided they receive adequate sunlight, aren’t overly cramped, and receive organic fertilizer as per instructions.

Pot Size for Basil

A single basil plant will happily grow in a half-gallon pot. For outdoors, bigger pots mean better water retention, more room for roots to thrive, and less risk of drying out, so choose pots that are at least 2 gallons.

Minimum Container Size for Basil

You can start seedlings in almost any size container, but a pot around 4 inches wide and 6 inches deep is a good bet. As your basil grows, you will want to upgrade to a larger container — around half a gallon is acceptable. 

Basil Container Depth

Because tap roots naturally shoot down to locate a water source, these roots will usually be longer than those spreading horizontally. For this reason, you should try to find a container that is at least a third deeper than its width. 

Best Soil for Basil in Pots

Whenever growing anything in pots, we have to remember that it is an artificial environment, and thus, there is a lack of natural drainage and beneficial microbes. Therefore, we need specific soil to compensate for the unnatural growing conditions.

Most nurseries will carry these specialist soils at the same price as regular soil, and they are a must for growing successfully in pots. These mixes often contain perlite, a natural substance that acts as an aerator and retains nutrients and moisture for future release.

Growing Basil From Seed

It doesn’t take much effort to grow basil from seed, and most of us will find everything we need for under 10 dollars, which is a pretty good deal considering this herb can be pricey at supermarkets. Here’s a step-by-step guide for growing basil from seed.

  1. Fill your chosen container with organic potting mix (this one is excellent).
  2. Take about one seed per square inch of surface area, and equally distribute them around the pot, placing them ¼ of an inch into the soil. Then cover with more potting mix, and compress slightly.
  3. Keep soil moist with a misting bottle, or place a layer or two of cling film over the pot. You can place containers indoors to keep them warm, but as soon as they sprout, they will require sunlight.

Seedlings should emerge within a week and can be thinned out to the strongest plants once the first true leaves appear.

Transplanting Basil Seedlings Into Pots

  1. Wait until the seedlings are at least 3 inches tall and have several sets of true leaves.
  2. Prepare your chosen containers by thoroughly cleaning them, drying them, and filling them approximately ¾ full with fresh potting soil.
  3. Lightly moisten the potting soil.
  4. Make an indentation large enough to accommodate the basil’s root system in the soil where you plan to place the plant.
  5. Carefully lift the tender seedlings from their seed tray and, one by one, place them in an indentation.
  6. Gently hold the seedling in place while you add soil to completely cover the roots and secure the plant in place.
  7. Continue to add soil until the seedling is buried to the same depth it was in the seed tray. 
  8. Water lightly to settle the soil. 

How Many Basil Plants Per Pot?

Usually, basil prefers spacing of around 5-8 inches between plants. This is because there needs to be enough room for roots and enough nutrients for the number of plants. Too many plants will compete and remain small. 

What To Plant With Basil in Container

Ever heard of allelopathy? It’s basically plant friendship! Most plants have developed to benefit from growing close to other certain plants. For example, some plants do this to keep pests away, and some do it because other plants provide beneficial nutrients like nitrogen.

Basil doesn’t just taste great with tomato, the two also grow very well together. In terms of herbs, oregano, chives, and chamomile will all do great when planted in the same container as basil.

When To Plant Basil Seeds

If planting in seedling trays or indoor pots, sow seeds about 2-4 weeks before the last frosts. This ensures a longer growing season and enough time for the plant to grow strong before transplanting.

Tips for Growing Basil in Pots

Most of us are guilty of having bought a cheap herb from the supermarket and watching it wither away. It doesn’t have to be like this! There are a few super simple tricks to ensuring healthy plants and abundant crops.

  • Buy good seeds. Heirloom varieties are not only better for us, but more care has been taken to ensure they are of healthy stock.
  • Use only designated potting mix. These mixtures are specifically designed for pots — trust the experts.
  • Keep plants moist — but don’t let them sit in water or let them dry out.
  • Use a good quality, organic fertilizer.
  • Place indoor pots into the bath or shower once a week, water generously, and let drain. This mimics natural rainfall, and they will appreciate being rinsed of house dust.

Related Questions:

How Many Basil Plants Can I Grow in a 5-Gallon Bucket?

Most 5-gallon garden pots will have enough room for three or four basil plants to grow together happily.

Does Basil Like To Be Rootbound?

Basil does as well with a little company as it does on its own. Rootbound plants, however, will struggle to absorb water and nutrients and will grow very poorly.


We hope that this article has given you not only the information you need but also the confidence you need to start growing basil in pots. Whipping up a batch of homemade pesto, adding a few nice, big basil leaves to a sandwich, including them into bolognese, or adding them to a fresh salad — these are the moments that we remember why we garden. Hopefully, you can experience this yourself soon!