Basil Trying to Go to Seed Too Early

skycladJuly 17, 2013

Hello to all plant lovers...!
I have a question regarding something that has happened to me for years now, and am wondering if I can do anything about it. It's regarding Basil plants trying to go to seed far too early..........sometimes within a week of planting in the ground! Am I doing something wrong, or is this just what Basil does?? Like I said earlier, this has been the case for YEARS when I plant this lovely herb. My girlfriend says I'd better keep it cut back or it will go to seed and then die.. Is this correct?
I would welcome any information anyone might have on this subject.... Thanks in advance for any info you can provide..!

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zackey(GA 8b)

My basil loves to go to seed. That is it's mission in life. To go to seed and die. It takes almost daily pruning for me to stay on top. It seeds like crazy! I would let one or two go to seed for next year's seeds and trades.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 7:35PM
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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

As Zackey stated--it's basil's mission in life to go to seed then die. It's an annual, that's what it does. Some varieties bolt faster than others (Thai basil is notorious for fast flowering).

Some bolting may be weather related, some may be crowding, moisture, whatever related. Potted basils will generally try to bolt faster than in-ground. When you state that your plants try to flower within a week of planting, I'm assuming you're buying starts from a store. If they've been in their pot for too long and the roots don't have enough room, the silly little plants decide they have no more room to grow, so they must flower and complete their cycle.

Your girlfriend is correct--continual harvest and pinching will prolong the life of the plant, encouraging more leaf production and bushing, and honestly keep it healthier overall. Sounds like you're doing what you need to be doing.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 11:31PM
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Thank you both very much for the responses to this question.. Sounds like the "going to seed" issue is quite normal and obviously necessary for the continuation of the species.. Had not factored in the time spent in pots before I bought the plant!
Thanks again,

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 6:27PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Actually, basil(especially Asian/Thai varieties) are nice flowering plants, like salvia. Sometime I plant them in pots along with miniature hot peppers ...and regular flowers.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 1:54PM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

In general basil confined in pots will go to seed faster than that grown in the ground. You could save some mature seed and plant your own seedlings.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 8:33PM
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Wanted to let all of you know that I now have my scissors out near the basil plants in the garden and elsewhere near the pots.. I'm a seed trimming fool after reading your posts and I certainly don't want them to die anytime soon.......because there is so much Pesto to make, and so little time........until next year that is..:)
Thanks to all of you for your help on this..

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 8:55PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

There is a simple solution: PINCH BACK AND EAT.
isn't that why we grow basil? Unless you wan it as an ornament plant , then LET IT BLOOM !. It will look even better with flowers.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 7:07AM
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I have to agree with all you guys. It took time to get used to cutting back plants. I didn't realize this was necessary to help a plant max out its potential. I too am growing Thai/Cinnamon Basil for its ornamental value only. It flowers are great looking. Also growing sweet, Genovese, lemon, lime and purple basil. Can't forget about all my other friends.......sage, pinapple sage, oregano, parsley, rau rum, rosemary, sweet marjoram, thyme, several veggies and some cool flowers as well. Rambling......but fun!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 5:40PM
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If you buy quality basil plants, they will not bolt within a week.It should be at least a month. Many nurseries will sell plants that have become root-bound, and these are really useless. If you must buy plants, look for small ones that have deep green leaves with no yellowing. Gently tap the plant out of the pot to inspect the roots. If they are tightly filling all the space inside the pot, forget it. It's much better to grow from seed, as has been said here already.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alan Chadwick

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 5:47PM
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