Dying Basil, Bought Bare-Root
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Lacy Wright
Posted on: March 02, 2007

I bought basil in a pot and planted it. It thrived so I decided to plant some more. I saw basil from the same company with the roots but without a pot. I bought the healthiest looking one but when I planted it, it started wilting and dying. The location was under a bright light and I watered it. What went wrong?

The bare root basil you bought had been out of the soil for long enough that all the important fine roots dried out and died. It is the fine roots, or root hairs that take up water and nutrients. When you planted it, you were really just planting a root-less cutting. No wonder it wilted and died. In the shop the whole plant was drenched in water at least once a day and the plant was kept in a low light place. Under those conditions the leaves were able to take up enough water to remain turgid. But outside, they had no chance. If you had planted the plant in a pot, cut it down about half and placed the watered pot in a plastic bag and put it under fluorescent lights, the plant might have recovered somewhat and you could have planted it out once it was growing under the lights. But the plant, an annual, would have been mature at this point and really mostly interested in producing seeds. You would have had a hard time to get leaves and not just the flowers. You are much better off to start new plants from seed.

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