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May 21, 2010 07:53 PM

Can you plant hydroponic basil?

This might be a stupid question and I tried to google it but couldn't find anything...

I bought one of those bunches of basil that's hydroponicallyl grown and has all the roots attached. Is it possible to plant this in soil and keep it as a plant?

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  1. You should give it a try, but be prepared for failure. Hydroponically grown plants have thinner, weaker roots which may not survive the transition to soil. BTW, growing basil from seed is so very very easy, why not give that a try at the same time?

    4 Replies
    1. re: janniecooks

      Thanks for the info. I just want to try to plant it because I won't be using all of the basil and it just seems like a waste, especially since it's pretty expensive.

      I am actually trying to grow some herbs but they're growing much slower than I expected! Then again I really know little about gardening so I'm sure that I'm not doing it most effectively.

      1. re: tinery

        A great way to get lots of basil is to take cuttings and just root them in water or just stick right into the ground

      2. re: janniecooks

        The transition is not as rough if the plants are potted in soil-less mix for a week or two before getting too much time in full sun or in soil. The roots will strengthen and develop hairlike feeder structures that will be essential for growing in soil.

        Using cuttings that have been rooted in water has the same issues. Most will not do well if planted directly into soil as the roots simply cannot take up enough water at first.

        1. re: janniecooks

          A tip: clip the stem leaving only 6 or so leaves. Before the roots get established they won't be able to supply water to a lot of foliage, so leaving all that edible basil on the plant will be a waste of good herbage. And don't pull the plants if the leaves wilt after a few days. Keep watering and give it a couple of weeks.

        2. I had always grown my basil from seed, which usually does okay, sometimes better if I resist putting in too many seeds and they are too thick and I can't bear to pull any out. A couple of years ago I tried one of the hydroponic ones from the store, and they grow really well! I've even kept them over the winter (inside in zone 3) and am still harvesting the basil in Jan/Feb. Make sure to pinch off the flowers. I include them with the leaves for eating. Don't let the plant get too tall, and it will continue to bush out. Mine is still alive from last winter, but looking a little thin, so I have another two on the go in a pot for this year.

          1 Reply
          1. There are many varieties of Basil (lemon, lime, Thai, Italian, Purple, etc) easily grown from seed. Rather than purchase several, find one sold in a mix (see Pinetree seeds at for one example). I especially like the globular form often sold as Bush Basil. It has a distinct minty taste and can nicely spice up a green salad.

            1. Yes. It is very possible....however, (yeah, unfortunately this is the other shoe dropping) be prepared to be at this plants disposal like a sick little kid for at least a good week.

              Somehow, while walking through the local Harris Teeter this beautiful hydroponic basil plant caught my eye and I just couldn't resist attempting to repot it...yeah, yeah, I know you're going to say, just get some seeds, but this was such a good looking basil, currently I'm about 2 weeks into the repotting tribulations and these are the things that I would do/do differently:
              Step 1: Go to a local hydroponic store and pick up some of their plant food that gets added to water. When you bring the plant back home, don't immediately put it into some soil, then put out outside. Place it in a glass bowl that has some depth and use some perilite to keep it standing to support its roots (you can find all kinds of materials at the hydroponic store for this).
              Step 2: Put the plant into the clear container with water and the plant food for several days to make sure the shock is minimal. Once the roots are sucking up water you should be okay.

              Step 3: Now slowly start adding in a little bit of soil. Like the other posts say, the roots are swollen and the plant is used to having tons of water, so you'll have to start getting the roots used to the soil while slowly weaning it off so much water over time. Also, this plant will go belly up if you leave it in full sun for more than 30 minutes during the first week as well. So, as you keep adding more soil the roots will start to darken as well. Also, like the other posts said, trim back some of the leaves because you want to focus on the roots first. Once the roots start to add depth and are doing well and you've added more and more soil you can now transplant the soil to a larger pot.

              Step 4: Watch for any shock and keep watering. I'm not kidding when I say I had to baby this plant. Now, you can slowly introduce it to more and more sun and weaning it off so much water. I used Miracle Grow moisture control soil with plant food. Also, you can cut back on the amount of hydroponic food as well and it should survive.

              Hopefully these tips help. I'm glad I now have such a pretty basil plant, just like the one I saw in the store, but it was a lot of work. If your're not up for it you can always buy a pack of seeds. Seeds Savers Exchange has beautiful heirloom seeds of every variety (even Thai and Cinnamon basil, but if you want the one in the store, just prepare yourself...

              Much luck!

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