Basil in Hot Sun
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Cristy
Posted on: July 12, 2007

I live in Arizona, USA and it is now 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius) in the afternoon and I’m wondering if that’s too hot for outdoor basil. I planted from seed, got quick germination, but the plants are tall and skinny, with only a few leaves, not enough to use for cooking at all, and now they have brown edges on the leaves (although from my reading here I think that may have been caused by my over- watering and /or fertilizing them). They are in a small plastic planter (about 6" wide and deep and about 20 inches long). They get some morning sun but get shade in the afternoon. I’m afraid to put them in full sun here. Please advise.

Basil should be able to take full sun in all climates, but not while it is etiolated (stretched from lack of light). You did not say if the container had good drainage, as well as water retentive soil components. Also the soil in the container could get so hot in the sun, that it kills the roots. Place your container into a larger white container, that has drainage holes on the bottom. The outer pot should leave a gap of half to one inch (one to two centimetres) between it and the inner pot. This double potting will shade the inner pot and keep it cooler. The easiest solution would be to plant directly into the soil.

To get the plants used to higher light, gradually move the planter further out into the sun. Take a month to complete the move.

You did not say how often you watered nor how much you fertilized. I can therefore not really comment on that. But if you re-water every time the top of the soil gets dry, watering will not be too much in your heat. Use a very dilute fertilizer every second time you water and the plants should be able to use it in full sun.

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