What's wrong with my basil?

smedley12July 18, 2014

I'm growing basil in a large container on my back porch - have for the past 3 years and it's always done well. This year started out nicely with a huge, healthy bushy plant as usual. I've gotten 3 big bunches out of the plant already, enough to make pesto.

Now, all of a sudden, many of the leaves have brown/black spots on them, the ones that are really bad look yellowish brown. What's weird is that the unhealthy looking leaves are interspersed with healthy looking leaves.

So weird. I haven't seen any pests, but just to be sure I used some Organicide. No help so far. Any thoughts on what this could be?

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I don't know what it is but just to say that black blotches will almost certainly be caused by a fungus rather than a pest and therefore treating with a pesticide is not going to help at all. Personally, unless the whole plant is at death's door I would ignore the blotchy leaves, which appear to be older foliage anyway, and just remove them if they really bother you. You could end up spending more money on solutions that the plant is worth.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 10:57AM
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Thank you! I do have some of the spots on newer growth. Is the fungus harmful to humans? Ie if I make pesto from healthy leaves but one of the affected leaves accidentally slips in, is that going to hurt anything?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 11:21AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I don't know 100% categorically. But I think it very unlikely it will have any effect whatsoever on you and I wouldn't hesitate to eat it myself. We eat a stack of stuff we are not aware of and which does us no harm. I'd rather accidentally eat some blotchy leaves from my own garden than basil from a shop which could be from anywhere and have had anything sprayed on it.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 2:35PM
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Do keep in mind that diseases can be spread by pests.

In any case, I wouldn't eat those leaves. Pinch the basil back and discard the diseased leaves. Don't even compost them. The basil will put out new growth pretty quickly.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 5:06PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Maybe I wasn't clear - I would not worry if I inadvertently ate those leaves but I wouldn't eat them deliberately. Not because they'd poison me but because they would not taste as they should.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 7:12AM
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Thanks guys - all makes sense. Appreciate the advice!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 1:46PM
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