How Long Does It Take for Basil Seeds to Sprout? A Complete Guide from Seed to Harvest

I have read a lot of gardening books over the years, and they all have great tips, but they are all a bit different. I couldn’t find a book that followed a plant from seed to harvest to dinner plate and taught the gardener what to do at every important step.

Beginning a basil seed, picking it, and enjoying it in a tasty meal are all things that this guide will show you. I hope that this basil growing guide makes you feel at ease and sure of yourself in your Mindful Garden. That way, you can spend more time enjoying the garden and less time worrying about whether it’s growing right.

You can always leave a question below, and we’ll answer it. If there’s something you’re not sure about or that we don’t cover, please do so.

Growing basil from seed can be an extremely rewarding experience. As you nurture those tiny seeds into fully grown, aromatic plants, you get to see firsthand the wonders of nature at work. However, once you’ve planted your basil seeds, the natural next question is “How long will it take to see those very first sprouts?” This complete guide will walk you through the entire process of growing basil from seed, with a particular focus on how long it takes for sprouting to occur.

An Overview of Basil Seed Germination Timeframes

So how long does it actually take for basil seeds to sprout? Here’s a quick overview of the timing:

  • Germination typically occurs between 5-14 days after sowing. Basil seeds usually begin to sprout somewhere between days 5-10. However, it can take up to 2 full weeks (14 days) in some cases.

  • Optimal soil temperature for fastest germination is 70-80°F (21-27°C). Warmer soils will quicken the pace. Cooler temperatures will delay germination.

  • Seedlings emerge about 5-10 days after germination. Once the seeds have actually sprouted underground it takes around another week for the seedlings to fully emerge through the soil surface.

  • Total time from seed to seedling emergence is commonly 2-3 weeks. With the typical germination range of 5-14 days, plus another 5-10 days to fully emerge, plan for approximately 14-21 days total from sowing until seedlings poke through

Now let’s take a closer look at what happens during each stage of basil germination and emergence so you know exactly what to expect!

Step 1: Sowing the Seeds

Your basil growing journey begins by sowing the seeds into starter pots or trays filled with potting mix. There are a few tips to ensure successful germination:

  • Use small 3-4 inch pots or starter cell trays with drainage holes
  • Fill with a lightweight seed starting or potting mix
  • Gently press seeds into the soil surface, about 1⁄4 inch deep
  • Water thoroughly until soil is moist but not saturated
  • Basil needs warmth: keep pots at 70°F minimum temperature

Once planted, basil seeds need consistent moisture and warmth in order to kickstart the germination process. Let’s look at what happens next…

Step 2: Early Germination (Days 1-5)

During the first few days after sowing, here’s what happens underground as your basil seeds start to sprout:

  • The seed coat cracks open as it absorbs water from the moist soil. This allows the embryo within to begin swelling and growing.

  • The radicle emerges first. This is the initial white root that will anchor the seedling and supply it with moisture and nutrients.

  • Next, the hypocotyl emerges. This structure links the radicle to the first leaves, called the cotyledons.

  • The hypocotyl continues elongating and pushes upward toward the soil surface.

This early germination process is powered by the stored food reserves within the seed itself. Warmth accelerates these initial changes while cooler temperatures will delay sprouting.

Step 3: Late Germination (Days 5-14)

In the second phase of germination, the following continues to occur beneath the soil surface:

  • The hypocotyl keeps growing upward until it reaches light and air. This is what pushes the emerging seedling up through the soil.

  • The cotyledons unfold and expand. These “seed leaves” are the first leaves to emerge from a sprouting basil seed. They absorb light to start photosynthesis.

  • The radicle grows longer to form the main taproot to anchor the seedling. More tiny root hairs branch outward.

  • The epicotyl appears above the cotyledons. This structure will form the next set of true leaves.

Germination is complete once the radicle, hypocotyl, cotyledons, and epicotyl have fully emerged from the seed. Now the seedling starts transitioning to its next stage of early growth and development.

Step 4: Seedling Emergence (Days 10-21)

In the final phase, the baby basil plant is ready to meet the world! Here’s what happens:

  • The cotyledons are pushed up above the soil surface by the elongating hypocotyl. These “seed leaves” first poke through the soil.

  • Next, the epicotyl and first true leaves emerge into the light. These leaves replace the temporary cotyledons as the plant’s main food source via photosynthesis.

  • Over 7-10 days, the seedling becomes fully established above ground. Once the first true leaves are out, your baby basil plant is ready for its next stage of development!

Once the epicotyl and first true leaves have emerged, your basil seedling is established. You’ll immediately notice rapid growth over the next several weeks!

How to Speed Up Basil Germination

Now that you know the typical timeline for sprouting, here are 5 tips to help hasten basil germination so you get seedlings sooner:

  • Start seeds indoors where you can control temperature and humidity
  • Warm the soil to 70-80°F for fastest sprouting
  • Ensure consistently moist soil – never let it dry out completely
  • Soak seeds overnight before planting to soften the seed coat
  • Cover pots with plastic to create a greenhouse environment

Regulating warmth and moisture are the two most critical factors to accelerate the pace from seed to sprout. Basil thrives in heat and needs constantly moist soil, especially in the early stages. Mimic tropical conditions as much as possible.

Troubleshooting Slow Basil Germination

If it has been longer than 14 days and your basil still hasn’t sprouted, here are some common issues to troubleshoot:

  • Temperature too low – Basil prefers 70°F+ soil temp for quick sprouting
  • Soil too dry – Seeds need constantly moist soil, water more frequently
  • Planted too deep – Sow seeds only 1⁄4 inch deep in soil
  • Old seeds – Basil seeds degrade over 1-3 years, test old seeds
  • Too much fertilizer – Delayed sprouting if over-fertilized

Tweaking these simple factors often kickstarts stalled basil seeds into action so you’ll see those seedlings soon!

Caring for Newly Sprouted Basil Seedlings

Once those precious little sprouts emerge, here are some tips to ensure your infant basil plants thrive:

  • Let soil dry slightly between waterings to prevent damping off disease
  • Move to sunny window for 14-16 hours of sunlight daily
  • Maintain warm temperatures around 70°F
  • Pot up seedlings once first true leaves appear
  • Begin fertilizing weekly with diluted liquid plant food

With the right care, your sprouted basil will grow rapidly into a lush, thriving plant ready to be transplanted into the garden!

Transplanting Basil Outdoors

You’ll know your basil seedlings are ready for the outdoor garden when they have:

  • At least 2 sets of true leaves
  • A well-developed root system (about 4-6 weeks after sprouting)
  • Gone through a period of “hardening off” to transition outside

To transplant:

  • Choose a sunny spot with fertile soil
  • Dig hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball
  • Gently remove from pot, loosen roots, place in hole
  • Backfill with native soil, pack down gently
  • Water thoroughly

Once planted outside, your homegrown basil will take off growing! Just keep it consistently watered.

Enjoying the Benefits of Homegrown Basil

Growing basil from seed provides numerous rewards:

  • Harvest abundance. A single plant can yield 2-4 cups of leaves all season long!

  • More foliage, fuller flavor. Homegrown basil has a richer, more pronounced taste.

  • Earlier availability. Start seeds indoors up to 2 months before buying starter plants.

  • Greater variety. Grow multiple types like sweet, Thai, lemon, or purple basil.

  • Year-round access. Preserve leaves by freezing, drying, or making pesto.

When you grow basil yourself, you’ll have plenty of thisVersatile herb to harvest all season and enjoy in recipes like pesto, sauces, dressings, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about basil seed germination:

How deep should I plant basil seeds?

Sow basil seeds just 1⁄4 inch deep in the soil. Any deeper delays germination.

Can I use a heat mat to speed up sprouting?

Yes, a heat mat is ideal for warming soil to 70°F or more for faster germination.

How often should I water basil seedlings?

Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Water when the top inch becomes dry.

Is it better to start basil from seed or buy plants?

Seeds give you more variety options but take longer. You can also do both!

When can I transplant basil outside?

Once nighttime temperatures are reliably above 50°F and seedlings have 2+ true leaves.

How do I know if my basil seeds are still good?

Try sprouting a sample on a damp paper towel. Toss old seeds that don’t swell and sprout.

No matter which problems or questions may arise, don’t get discouraged if your basil is slow to start. Just focus on providing warm temperatures, consistent moisture, and plenty of light. Before you know it, you’ll have dozens of aromatic basil plants ready to harvest!


Basil is a small plant that likes it warm, so we can start them indoors a long time before we move them outside. Because of this, I actually do my first pruning while the plant is indoors.

This is one of the most critical parts of growing basil – proper pruning.

Ultimately, we want as many basil leaves as possible as thats what we harvest and eat. And to promote leaf production and foliage growth, we need to prune the basil plant.

Basil plants develop distinct nodes that new leaves will grow out of. Just above this node is where we should prune the plant. The stem will split into two new stems that will each grow new leaves. Throughout the season, we keep doing this, and the number of stems goes from one to two to four to eight to sixteen and more. This makes the basil plant very bushy, with lots of leaves to pick.

You’ll see in one of the next videos that this pruning immediately makes the plant bushier, and we’ll keep doing it every two weeks to get the most leaf growth.


From the seventh to fourteenth day after you move your basil plant, you should keep a close eye on it and the weather.

The roots just went through a pretty bad experience when they were moved, so we don’t expect to see a lot of new growth.

During this period, make sure the temperatures stay warm and that the plant is well watered. The best way to support traumatized roots is with water. To make sure your plant has enough water, just dig 1-2″ into the soil and check to see if it’s wet. If it is not, give it a healthy watering. I like to water the rest of my grow bags and then spray the top of the soil for 10 seconds. This gives the first spray 10 seconds to soak in. For bigger pots and raised beds, you can make this last longer so the water has more area to cover.

Seven days after the transplant, we will start to see the first signs of new growth. When you see these new growth signs, you’ll know that the roots of your basil plant have successfully adapted to the garden and are ready to grow very well.

(Ep 2/8) How long do Basil seeds take to germinate? Basil Growing Guide

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