Guide to Growing Basil Microgreens


Basil microgreens are a delicious culinary sprout to grow at home. Growing basil sprouts or seedlings is a lovely kitchen gardening project that will also add flavour to your cooking. Basil microgreens make a lovely garnish or addition to a fresh salad.

growing basil from seed indoors in trays - shows green basil seedlings

Supplies for Growing Basil Microgreens

  • Container: Tray, preferably with drain holes
  • Potting Soil: Well-draining organic potting soil
  • Water: Filtered or non-chlorinated, if possible
  • Basil Seeds: your favourite variety (I like Genovese Basil and Holy Basil/Tulsi)

Steps: Growing Basil from Seed

  1. Fill the tray container with the potting soil.
  2. Moisten the potting soil so it is damp, but not wet (muddy). After moistening, the soil should reach approximately 1″ from the top of the container.
  3. Place basil seeds on the soil about 10 cm (4″) apart. I used to try to soak my basil seeds before planting (like other microgreens), but they are too small!
  4. Lightly sprinkle 1 cm (less than 1/2″) of soil on top of the tiny basil seeds.
  5. Gently water the soil until top layer of soil is saturated.
  6. Place the container in a warm sunny area or under a plant light. Light helps the basil sprouts grow :)
  7. Keep the soil moist and warm while the seeds germinate and sprout into basil seedlings. You’ll have germination problems if the environment is too dry to support growing basil from seed.
  8. Wait! Basil takes a long time to germinate in comparison to other seeds. Grow some peas or another quick microgreen crop alongside your basil if you’re looking for a quick win.
  9. Water the sprouted seedlings regularly.
  10. Once the basil sprouts have become established, watering can be reduced. At this point, wait until the soil becomes dry before watering the plants again.
  11. Basil can be harvested as a microgreen once the sprouts are several inches high. Yum! Basil microgreens make a lovely garnish on pasta or a perfect addition to a tomato salad.
  12. If you have too many basil seedlings, save a few to allow to grow into large plants (for large-leaf basil and for growing your own basil micro green seeds).
Basil Microgreens Growing in Tray

Re-Seeding Your Indoor Basil Microgreen Tray of Sprouts

Basil microgreen plants are fairly short-lived, so it’s good practice to re-seed every week or two to ensure a healthy supply of fresh basil sprouts. Most gardeners just buy basil seeds in bulk, but it is possible to harvest your own from fully-grown basil plants after they’ve flowered and gone to seed.

growing basil from seed - thai basil flowers
Holy basil flowering and producing basil seeds. These homegrown seeds can be used for growing basil microgreens.

Potting Soil for Growing Trays of Basil Sprouts (Microgreens)

For your potting soil, choose a well-draining variety. Some high-quality potting soils are specially formulated for growing plants from seeds. These “seed-starting mixes” are perfect for growing basil from seed. Be sure to check the mix you purchase to make sure it is actually organic. I use Pro-Mix Organic Seed-Starting Mix for my basil seedlings. Read more about organic gardening (versus conventional gardening) here.

Containers and Trays for Basil Microgreens

Check that the tray/container you’ve selected has a drain hole to allow excess water to escape. Basil plants will “drown” if their roots become waterlogged.

Plants require air in the soil as well as water. Saturating the soil for an extended period will suffocate the plants. There is not much room for air in the soil if it is saturated with water. The only time basil seeds will put up with a little extra water is during the initial germination phase of growing basil from seed. Once roots are established, let them dry out a bit between waterings.

Basil Microgreens - Metal Tray of Basil Sprouts

Considerations for Growing Basil Microgreens in an Indoor Environment

Can you grow basil microgreens indoors? Yes! – with a few tricks that mimic nature. Growing basil microgreens indoors rather than outdoors does require some special considerations to make sure your basil sprouts are healthy.

Growing Basil Microgreens Indoors? Yes! – With Enough Light

The most important consideration is providing enough light. If you have a bright sunny window, place your basil greens tray where it will get lots of light throughout the day.  Keep in mind that basil plants love 12 hours of light each day, and need at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight to thrive, so ensure you’re selecting your window carefully.

If you’re at all doubting that your basil is getting enough light, get yourself a plant light. You can either buy a fancy plant light set-up, or just a regular fluorescent light. Lately some indoor gardeners have been moving towards inexpensive and compact LED plant lights. Place the basil plant right under the light so it can soak up all the rays.

Growing Basil Microgreens Indoors? Yes! – With The Right Climate

You may also want to consider other environmental factors such as heat and humidity. If your micro green tray is very close to a drafty window, it could be negatively affected by the cold.

Basil also may be affected by indoor humidity. The dry winter air in heated homes can desiccate the soil and dry out the plant. Consider using a humidifier if the air in your house is particularly dry.

Growing Basil Microgreens Indoors? Yes! – With Enough Air Movement

Lastly, basil sprouts benefit from some sort of air movement. If your house doesn’t have an active air movement system, a fan may help to simulate the outdoor environment. Air movement will help your basil sprouts grow strong and also discourage pests and disease.

Basil Microgreens - organic basil microgreens in tray with label

Printable Basil Instructions

Growing basil indoors

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Mary Jane

Mary Jane is a home gardener who loves creating healthy, welcoming spaces (indoors and out!) - About Mary Jane (https://www.homefortheharvest.com/authors/about-mary-jane-duford/)

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