Basil Problems
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Steve Swirsky
Posted on: June 16, 1998

I am having "one helluva time" trying to get basil to grow in my outdoor garden. I always start with plants from my local nursery, but within two weeks (whether I have transplanted or not) the newer leaves appear shriveled and new growth slows and eventually the leaves fall off or the plant dies. Help!!!

The symptoms you describe sound suspiciously like the symptoms of fusarium wilt, caused by Fusarium oxysporum, the bane of basil plants! This fungus disease is carried on the seeds and invariably kills the plants. This disease has only recently been recgnized as being a problem on basil and the search is on for seed lots that are not contaminated with the spores. Richters carries two varieties (Genovese basil ‘Special Select"- S1273-100 and "Compatto FT"- S1273-200) that have been tested for fusarium.

If these seeds are planted in sterilized soil into sterile pots, they will not get the disease unless some other infestation of fusarium in their environment infects them. As an added bonus, these two strains have an especially good taste. Since basil is so easy to grow from seed you might wish to purchase some of that seed and grow your own disease free plants.

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