Protect Your Basil Seedlings

 

If you live in a north country garden zone, an area where temperatures have not consistently been above 65 Degrees Fahrenheit at night, keep your Basil seedlings inside.  Putting them out before nighttime temperatures have reached that point may cause them to die.

Big box stores are now selling Basil and Tomato plants.  You might think that any seedling that you purchase would be best put in the ground or potted up when you take it home because the stores in your area “know best” — would they be selling the plant it if it was not supposed to be put in the ground right away?  The answer is a resounding “yes!”  They put out stock as soon as it arrives which may be too early, by several weeks!

Even if you already know that the big box stores tend to put their stock out early, you might simply be too optimistic about the warmer weather settling in because you have had several days of warm weather.

Whether you have made a purchase too early or whether you yourself have been too optimistic about spring, you have to be patient and wait for warm weather when it comes to putting Basil outside.

This year I was anxious to get started and lost several Basil seedlings as a result.  However, this it did give me an opportunity to illustrate my mistake with some pictures.

Below is a  picture a Basil seedling in a terra cotta pot that I put outside too early.  You can see that its leaves are no longer green but light brown, actually burnt from the sun, cool daytime breezes and cool nighttime temperatures.

Samaged Basil Seedling put out too early in the spring

Damaged Basil Seedling put out too early in the spring

Below is a picture of a tray of Basil seedlings that I luckily did not put outside.  All the leaves are a healthy green color.

Healthy Basil Seedlings protected inside awaiting warmer spring weather

Healthy Basil Seedlings protected inside awaiting warmer spring weather

While you may plant other herbs at lower night time temperatures, Basil is one herb that you should set aside to be the last herb that you put outside, particularly in the North Country.  Remember to be sure that temperatures are warm enough for your Basil.  For Basil, it is best to err on the side of a later spring planting.