Basil is an ideal herb to grow in your kitchen or herb garden, and they generally have a reputation for being easy to care for. They can be pruned and propagated regularly for a continuous supply of fresh basil, as long as you can keep your plants healthy. If you are having trouble and your basil plant is dying, this article will help you identify the cause and fix your plant.
Why is my basil plant dying? The two most common causes of basil plant death are overwatering and underwatering. Heat stress, lighting problems, disease or pests are also common causes of basil plants wilting or dying. Basil plants are generally annuals, so individual plants usually only last one growing season.
This article covers all the common reasons why your basil plant is dying. It explains what to look for to identify the problem and how to fix your basil plant.
- water problems
- cold damage
- lighting problems
- Why is the stem of my basil plant turning brown?
- How can I breathe new life into my basil plant?
- How long will basil live?
- How to fix a dying basil plant by propagating new plants?
Basil plants need consistently moist soil, but they don’t do very well if their water needs aren’t met. Too much water can be even more harmful than too little water. In fact, reviving a submerged plant is usually much easier than reviving a submerged plant.
give too much water
Overwatering is the most common cause of basil plant death. While basil plants love access to water, their roots are ill-suited to handle soggy soil. In well-drained soil, there are large air spaces that allow air to circulate freely around the roots. In soggy soil, water fills in these holes and deprives the roots of oxygen, essential for their survival.
Without oxygen, the roots will stop functioning and your basil plant will not be able to get the water and nutrients it needs to survive. Very quickly, your basil plant will wilt, and if you don’t identify the problem quickly, your basil plant is unlikely to survive.
Keep in mind that overwatering can be caused by more than just watering too often. Any factor that reduces root aeration or causes the soil to remain soggy will cause the same problem. Factors include;
- Plant in a pot without drainage holes, or where the drainage holes are insufficient.
- Use poorly drained soil.
- Plant basil in an oversized pot. The soil will take a long time to dry out, and the roots will be deprived of oxygen for a long time.
- Water your basil plant without checking the soil first to see if it needs water.
What does overwatered basil look like?
Overwatered basil will initially develop paler, yellowish leaves, often starting with the bottom leaves. Leaf wilting soon follows and you may notice an unpleasant odor on the ground. The soil will be soggy and when you remove the plant from the pot, the roots will be soft and brown or black in color.
How do you fix a basil plant that is dying from overwatering?
If you notice the problem early, it’s best to stop watering and let the soil dry out. Make sure your plant is in the proper pot and soil. Once the soil is dry, water again, but check the plant daily or every other day and do not water until the soil surface is dry.
If your plant is badly wilted, or the roots smell bad or are mushy, you have root rot and the chances of the plant surviving are very slim. you can follow this guide to identifying and curing root rotor you should just take cuttings from your plant and try to propagate new basil plants. You can read here how to propagate new basil plants†
This is perhaps the easiest problem to solve. If you forgot to water your basil plant and the soil is dry, your plant will wilt and look very sad. You may see crisp brown leaves and dead leaves, and the pot will be too light to lift.
Luckily, they often do just fine, even if your basil plant appears to be dying. Water the basil plant well to revitalize it. Place it in bright, indirect light rather than full sun, and water your plant whenever the soil surface seems dry.
Once the plant has recovered and is growing new foliage, you can return it to direct sunlight and resume normal care.
Going underwater can be tricky, but getting into the habit of checking your plants’ water needs every day or two is a good strategy to avoid it. Alternatively, you can use a automatic watering potor even grow your basil in a smart cooking potto automate the care process.
Basil plants are not hardy and will generally suffer a lot if exposed to frost. Even temperatures below 10°C can stress the plant and cause it to wilt. Lower temperatures can also increase the risk of overwatering, due to less water needed by plants and less evaporation.
Growing your basil plant indoors will rarely cause temperature issues unless your plant is next to a drafty window. If you are growing basil outdoors, make sure all risk of frost has passed before sowing seeds or moving your plants outside.
Sometimes lighting problems can kill a basil plant. If you’ve bought a basil plant for your garden, it’s easy to forget the importance of optimal lighting for your plant.
Basil plants prefer full sun, so south or west facing windows are ideal. Full sun is great most of the year, but it can be too hot in the summer, so watch out for scorched or crusted leaves, which should be a sign to throw them out the window.
If your basil plant dies from a lighting problem, the most likely cause is poor lighting. Low light will cause slow and long growth and new leaves will tend to be smaller or stunted.
Your basil plant responds to low light by depositing chlorophyll in the leaves to capture as much light as possible. This can make the leaves look brighter green than normal, and you might think your plant is the epitome of health.
However, continued low light will quickly lead to leaf yellowing, lower leaf browning, leaf loss, and eventually wilting or death of the basil plant.
If you cannot provide your basil plant with direct sunlight, then bright, indirect light is the next best thing. If you raise your hand in an area of bright indirect light, your hand should cast a shadow with a soft edge. If no shadow is cast, there is probably not enough light for your plant.
Although there are a few troublesome diseases that can affect basil plants, there are really only two that will cause a basil plant to die or wilt.
Fusarium wilt is a group of soil-borne fungal diseases that affect many ornamental and food plants. This fungal infection attacks and blocks the plant. xylem vessels, preventing the transport of water and nutrients through the plant. Symptoms exhibited include stunted growth, wilting, yellowing of leaves, fungal deposits on stems and leaves, and stem rot.
If your plant has Fusarium wilt, the only solution is to throw the plant away and be careful not to infect your other plants. I would recommend tossing out the soil and sterilizing the pot well before growing anything else in it.
Root rot is a disease caused by a collection of bacteria and fungi that cause similar symptoms and a common cause. Anaerobic conditions in the soil of your basil plant weaken the roots and allow opportunistic organisms to attack your plant’s roots.
Root rot can often be devastating and kill the basil plant, but an early infection can sometimes be cured. Root rot and overwatering go hand in hand, so if you see signs of this, check your plant carefully.
transplant your plant and it is essential to remove any affected roots, and care should be taken when watering after transplanting to give the plant a chance to recover.
Indoors, the biggest culprits are aphids and red spider† Outdoors, slugs can also be a significant problem and are a common cause of basil plant dieback. Aphids and spider mites are sap-sucking insects.
You may notice spots on the leaves where they have attacked the plant, and a heavy infestation will cause the plant to die from desiccation or infection with opportunistic diseases from the weakened plant.
The mites are very small and can multiply rapidly. Look for wispy cobwebs among the foliage and look very closely on both sides of the leaves for insects. Aphids are larger and should be easy to see.
There are many treatments that can control insect infestation. I wrote an article on how to identify and treat common houseplant insects. that you might find useful.
Why is the stem of my basil plant turning brown?
Brown stems can be a sign of bacterial or fungal diseases. If the stem looks wet or mushy, your plant has a major problem and you need to act fast to save your plant.
If your basil plant is healthy, stem browning may be a sign that it is becoming woody. A woody stem will be firm and less flexible than younger stems. Older basil plants usually develop woody lower stems.
How can I breathe new life into my basil plant?
The solution depends on the cause of Basil’s death. Before attempting to revive your plant, carefully examine your plant and its growing conditions.
A basil plant that falls due to flooding will usually bounce back quickly once you water it properly, but it may be more difficult to revive it for other reasons.
How long will basil live?
Most types of basil, including the plants most commonly grown at home, are annuals and only live for one growing season. Basil plants usually live between 6 and 9 months. So if your basil plant dies, know that this may be the end of its normal life.
How to fix a dying basil plant by propagating new plants?
The good thing about growing basil is that it is very easy to propagate. You don’t have to worry about your basil dying if you can take a few cuttings and propagate them in soil or water. Read this article to learn how to propagate basil.
The leaves of young basil plants usually have the best flavor, so it’s a good idea to propagate your basil plant every few months so you always have a fresh supply of basil on your windowsill.