Basil is an herb often used to flavor Italian dishes or for medicinal purposes. When planting basil seedlings, you should carefully select plants from a reputable grower; if you can find a nursery that uses heirloom seeds to produce seedlings, this can be an added bonus. It is important to check the plant seedlings for signs of wilted leaves or brown stems, as this can be a sign of unhealthy specimens. You should choose a location that is mostly sunny and contains loam or clay soil. Space plants properly, and be prepared to water them immediately after planting and throughout the growing season.
When transplanting basil seedlings, it is best to do so in late spring or early summer. You should make sure that nighttime temperatures do not dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C) and that daytime temperatures are at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C). If you would like to get a head start on growing seedlings, you can do so indoors provided the plants are placed in a sunny window and kept away from drafts or heat vents.
The amount of space you need to leave between seedlings can vary based on the variety of basil you are planting. If you are planting a full-sized variety such as sweet basil or lemon leaf basil, you may want to leave around a foot (.3 m) between each plant. Dwarf varieties of basil seedlings can be planted much closer together, so you might need only six inches (15.24 cm) between each plant. If you like, you can plant basil along with tomatoes, and if you choose to do so, it can be a good idea to plant them about a foot (.3 m) away from these vegetable seedlings.
You should water the basil seedlings lightly when you first transplant them. Add just enough water to make the soil damp but not extremely wet. If you like, you can mist the plant seedlings lightly with water, but this should not be done in the afternoon because very hot sun can cause the foliage to burn.
Once you have planted basil seedlings, these plants will need very little care in order to thrive. When the plant begins to flower, you can pinch these off in order to encourage the plant to grow taller; however, the plant will continue to grow even if the flowers are allowed to turn to seed. An added advantage of allowing the flowers to seed is that you might be able to save these seeds and begin growing new basil plants from them the following spring, which can provide a cost savings on next year's crop.