How Much Basil To Plant: 6 Key Considerations (+ Care Tips)

Basil is a fantastic plant for new gardeners to grow. It needs little maintenance and flourishes in any area of the United States. As long as you take good care of your plants, they will yield plenty of fragrant leaves, ideal for a diverse range of delicious meals.

How many basil plants per person? Around two basil plants per person should be plenty if you are simply looking to season meals occasionally. If you intend to make basil-heavy recipes like pesto, you should expect to have at least six plants per person or around 20 healthy stalks with leaves.

It can be difficult to determine your fresh produce needs, and many gardeners often grow too much and waste produce, or they grow too little, thereby wasting time and the effort it took to raise plants. 

We have answered some frequently asked questions below, and hopefully, you will find our guide useful.

How To DecideNumber of Basil Plants – Considerations

With basil, as with most herbs, a little can go a long way. Simply adding a few leaves to dishes can really transform them into something packed with flavor. This is fantastic for those of us who have run into the “bored-of-dinner blues.”

1. Number of People in Your Family

The number of people and your intended use will determine how much basil you will grow at home. Remember that the food intake and tastes of different family members may be different. Although your intentions may be good, it’s best to start off using small amounts of basil in meals.

Do this to see whether everyone at the table enjoys the herb. You are better off growing something that everyone enjoys, and your family will really appreciate it!

2. How Often Do You Use Basil?

While basil can really make dishes “pop”, it can definitely be overdone. Give dishes with basil a break once in a while. We suggest limiting basil use in the kitchen to around two or three meals per week.

3. Will You Only Use Basil Fresh From the Garden?

If you do not plan on preserving basil for future use, you will not need to grow copious amounts of basil. Because a little can go a long way, you can use small amounts of fresh basil from the garden together with other herbs. You can either pair or substitute basil with these herbs:

  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Mint

4. Do You Plan on Preserving Extra Basil?

Because drying takes away some of that aromatic smell and delicious flavor of basil, we recommend either preserving this herb by making pesto or by freezing

Preserving is also a fantastic way for those who live in cold climates to enjoy this herb year-round. If you plan on preserving basil as well as using it fresh, plan on planting at least several additional plants.

5. Will You Be Making Pesto?

Not only does making pesto require a large number of leaves, but plants also need time to recover. Unless you are taking plants out completely, you need to allow your basil around three weeks to grow back from heavy picking.

6. How Much Garden Space Is Available?

One of the biggest mistakes new gardeners make is planting too much in too little space. You may think that planting more will yield more, but that’s actually not the case. All plants have certain requirements for the space they need to grow, and most plants like to have room to grow lots of roots and to receive plenty of nutrients and sun.

Even though basil doesn’t mind a little close company, it’s more about thinking how much space there is to grow other crops. It’s always nice to change things up, so why not try some fast-growing mint? 

However, if you have the basil fever, have been dreaming in tinges of green, and can’t get Caprese salads out of your mind, go ahead and sow to your heart’s content!

When To Plant Basil

For those who live in climates with frost, you should start seedlings indoors if you want to maximize your growing season. Plant seeds around three or four weeks before the last frosts are due to end.

For those in temperate climates with no frost, you can be more easygoing and can plant basil virtually year-round.

Basil Plant Spacing

Basil plants should be planted at least 12-16 inches apart to encourage good air circulation and to allow for root growth. Although basil can be planted closer together than that, the health, growth, and production of plants may suffer as they compete for nutrients, water, and light.

How Many Basil Plants Per Square Foot?

Per square foot, you should consider around six to eight plants. If you seed six plants, they will have plenty of room to grow large. The more you put into the ground or pot, the smaller they will be due to lack of space.

Basil Sun Requirements

Basil absolutely loves sunshine, so the more you can give it the better. Anything less than six hours will mean thin, weak plants with small, yellowish leaves.

How Much Water Does Basil Need?

This depends on what soil and container you are using. Basil likes to stay moist but never wet and soggy. Potted basil usually requires two to three weekly waterings, while basil in the ground will be just fine watered twice a week. 

Your best bet is always to check the moisture below the soil’s surface. If it is starting to dry out, water your basil. If it is still nice and damp, wait a day or two.

Fertilizing Basil

Basil planted outdoors in the ground will be happy to receive compost every month or two. For basil in pots, there are great slow-release fertilizer spikes available, like these, which come highly recommended.

Related Questions:

Does Basil Like To Be Crowded?

Basil does like company more so than other plants. Just remember that you can still overcrowd your basil plants. You’ll have nothing to worry about if you follow our spacing guide.

Does Basil Like Coffee Grounds?

Yes! Coffee grounds are a great addition to gardens and pots — just go easy! Too much coffee burns plants. About a tablespoon a month will be plenty.


In terms of growing herbs for your household, basil is probably the all-around winner. Suitable for a variety of containers and outdoor gardens, it takes little effort to maintain these plants. We think this article has given you all the knowledge to take on this little gardening project and grow lots of basil for yourself, for family, or for friends.