How To Germinate Basil Sprouts: Ultimate Guide

Basil Sprouts

Basil sprouts are not only a delicacy but also nutritious! The sprouts, known as micro-greens, are great for pesto, garnishing salads, sandwiches,  snacks, and Mediterranean dishes. However, how to germinate basil sprouts remains a challenge to many gardeners. They end up with a bad crop.

Discover how to germinate basil sprouts. The steps include soaking the seeds, rinsing, planting, and harvesting the sprouts in 14-21 days. Stay here and learn more about germinating basil sprouts successfully.

Steps For Germinating Basil Sprouts

The steps to germinating basil seeds are straightforward but require adequate preparation and some attention to detail. Here is how to germinate basil sprouts:

Materials Needed:

  • Basil seeds
  • Seed-starting mix or potting soil
  • Seedling trays or small containers with drainage holes
  • Plastic wrap or a humidity dome
  • Watering can or spray bottle
  • Warm, well-lit location

Step 1: Choose Quality Basil Seeds

The first step to germinating basil sprouts begins with choosing quality seeds for your crop. Start with fresh and high-quality basil seeds. You can find them at garden centers or order them online. Identifying fresh basil seeds involves examining certain characteristics that indicate their viability and quality. Here are some tips on how to identify fresh basil seeds:

  • Color: Fresh basil seeds are typically black or dark brown. The color varies slightly depending on the basil variety, but they should have a rich and dark hue. Avoid pale seeds, as they may be old or less viable.
  • Size: Basil seeds are small, usually about the size of a pinhead. Fresh seeds should be uniformly small in size. If you notice a mix of very small and larger seeds, it may indicate poor quality or age.
  • Shape: Fresh basil seeds are generally round and smooth. Inspect the seeds closely, and avoid those that are misshapen or irregular in appearance. Healthy seeds have a consistent, symmetrical shape.
  • Texture: Run your fingers over the seeds. Fresh basil seeds should feel hard and dry. If they feel soft or have a mushy texture, they might be old or have been exposed to moisture, reducing their viability.
  • Smell: While the smell is not always a definitive factor, fresh basil seeds may have a faint, sweet, or earthy aroma. If the seeds have a musty or unpleasant smell, it could indicate deterioration.
  • Packaging: Purchase basil seeds from reputable sources and authentic packaging. Check the packaging for the date of production or expiration. Seeds stored in proper conditions are more likely to be fresh and viable.
  • Germination Test: If you have doubts about the freshness of your basil seeds, you can perform a germination test. Place a few seeds between damp paper towels in a sealed plastic bag and leave them in a warm location. Check after a few days to see how many seeds have sprouted. A high germination rate indicates fresh and viable seeds.
  • Buy Seeds From Reputable Suppliers: Purchase basil seeds from well-known, trusted seed suppliers or nurseries. Reputable sources are more likely to provide seeds that have been properly stored and are of good quality.
  • Shell life: Basil seeds have a limited shelf life, and their viability decreases over time. Store seeds in a cool and dry area, away from direct sunlight. Good Storage conditions help maintain their freshness. If seeds are stored for a while, performing a germination test before planting a large batch is a good idea.

Step 2: Select The Right Containers For Planting Basil Seeds

Sprouting basil seeds requires containers. Use seedling trays or small containers with drainage holes to plant the basil seeds for the best outcome. This allows any excess water to drain and prevents the seeds from waterlogging.

Step 3: Prepare The Growing Medium

You need an ideal growing medium for germinating your basil sprouts. Fill the containers with a seed-starting mix or a well-draining potting soil.  Wet the soil with water until it is evenly damp but not soggy.

Step 4: Planting Basil Seeds

Place the basil seeds on the surface of the soil. Press them gently into the soil or cover them with a thin layer of the seed-starting mix. Basil seeds are small, so avoid planting too deep into the soil.

Step 5: Watering

Water is essential for every living organism, including basil sprouts. So, thoroughly water the growing medium (soil) after planting the seeds. Keep the soil consistently wet but not soggy. You can use a spray bottle to water gently.

Step 6: Covering Seeds

Basil seeds require a humid environment to germinate. Cover the seed trays or containers with plastic wrap or a humidity dome to create the condition. This helps retain moisture and warmth throughout the period.

Step 7: Provide Warmth And Light

Place the containers in a warm location, preferably between 70-80°F (21-27°C). Basil seeds germinate well in warm conditions. Additionally, provide adequate light, either natural or artificial, using grow lights.

Step 8: Monitor Moisture Levels

You must check the moisture level regularly. The monitoring ensures that the soil remains consistently moist but not overly wet. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely. If the soil is dry to the touch, then it requires watering. 

Step 9: Remove Covering

After 5-10 days, it is all good news. Your basil seeds will have germinated. You must remove the plastic wrap or humidity dome to expose your sprouts to a natural environment. Now, move the containers to a location with bright, indirect light.

Step 10: Thin Seedlings

The sprouts will emerge in multiples and, sometimes, in the same location. You must thin the ones in the same area. That leaves the rest of the seedlings to grow healthy and strong. Thinning ensures that each plant has enough space to grow.

Step 11: Harvesting/Transplanting

Harvesting may come before transplanting, depending on the purpose of your basil sprouts. You don’t need to transplant if the primary purpose is restaurant use as sprouts. Harvest your sprouts at 14-21 days. Otherwise, transplant your basil seedlings when they have developed a few sets of true leaves. Also, the plants should be large enough to handle. Transplant them directly into the garden if the outdoor conditions suit. You can also use large containers. Protect your basil against cold temperatures and frost.  


You have the ultimate guide on how to germinate basil sprouts. The steps are transparent and involve simple processes. Ensure that you buy quality seeds for a successful harvest. Good Luck!

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