This step by step guide with pictures shows how to save basil seeds from plants in your garden completing the growing cycle and saving you money for the next season.
Basil is one of the most popular herbs with its wide variety of culinary uses. It is an annual plant which grows easily from seed in both pots and direct in the garden.
Basil seeds are planted in the spring after the threat of frost is over. It grows quickly in warm climates and will produce more leaves the more you pick making it a valuable herb to have in the garden. See this guide to Growing Basil for information on germinating basil seed and plant care.
Saving Basil Seeds
Saving basil seeds is easy and doesn’t take much time. The seeds form at the base of the flowers which are harvested after the flowers dry.
Choosing a Basil Plant to Save Seeds From
If you have more than one plant then choose a plant which has the most vigorous growth and is the healthiest looking with disease free leaves. The leaves will be green with no yellowing or blotch marks.
Also taste the leaves for the best flavor. This is purely personal preference and a great way to improve the taste to your liking from year to year.
Different varieties of basil which are planted close together can be cross pollinated so it is best to plant each variety in a different spot in your garden.
The best time to save basil seeds is in the fall or autumn as you will need to let the plant grow so it can produce flowers.
Tools and Materials Needed
- Scissors or Pruners
- Plate or Container
- Airtight Container or Bag – This pack of 30 Spice Jars with airtight hinged gasket lids are the perfect size for storing seeds and look beautiful in the pantry. They are highly rated and great value on Amazon. (Paid link)
How to save basil seeds from plants in your garden.
- Stop Picking the Basil Leaves
In the late summer to early fall (autumn) leave the basil plant to grow. Tall stems will appear with flowers along the top of the stem.
- Cut the Flower Stem
Leave the flowers to mostly dry on the stem then cut the stem below the flowers with either sharp scissors or pruners.
- Dry the Flowers
Leave the flower stem to completely dry on a plate or open container in an area with good air circulation such as near an outside door or window.
- Remove the Basil Seeds
When the flowers are dry enough that they crumble, rub the flowerheads between your fingers. This will dislodge the seeds which form at the base of the flowers. The seeds will be small and hard.
- Label and Store the Seeds
Store the seeds in an airtight container or bag then label with the contents and the date collected. Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Don’t have labels? This 120 piece Chalkboard Label comes with an erasable pen, are waterproof and can be reused making them environmentally friendly and saving you money in the long run. (Paid link)
Basil seeds will last for 2 to 5 years with their germination rate going down over time however they must be kept cool in storage.
Seeds stored in bags can be kept in used egg cartons. This is a great way to keep them together and provide some insulation. See this guide to Reusing Egg Cartons in the Garden.
For more information on growing your own food, preserving and becoming self sufficient, see this Homesteading guide.
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