Growing Basil in your yard doesn’t require much effort or worry. However, issues do crop up occasionally. There are some causes of basil leaves curling, for instance. Keep your cool. There’s a problem that needs to fix well. To start, let’s think about basil plants for a second. Basil (Ocimum basilicum), often referred to as the “king of herbs,” has countless applications beyond its culinary role.

Plants of the basil family are indigenous to the islands of the southern Pacific and southern Asian regions. This easy-to-grow mint requires next to no special care. The basil herb plant leaves, considered a tender annual, are widely used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Seeds from the basil plants use in Thai cooking as well. As a bonus, its aromatic flavor makes it great for homemade tomato sauce, and as a companion plant, it can help keep mosquitoes out of your garden.

This herb is perfect for first-time gardeners because it grows soon and requires little maintenance. However, most gardeners have a problem with curling basil leaves. By reading this guide, you will be able to know, How to Treat My Basil Leaves Curling?.

How to Treat My Basil Leaves Curling?| Guide with 12 Reasons

Let’s start,

First of all, every gardener should understand the reasons for curling basil leaves. Once identified, you can treat them easily.

What are the reasons that affect curling basil leaves?

The gorgeous Basil leaves on your plant could be curling up for different reasons. To treat the patient effectively, you must first identify the root problem. Curled leaves are a sign of improper plant care, such as inadequate watering or a lack of exposure to sunshine. Plant diseases and pest attacks also contribute to leaf curling. 

1. Root Bound

When mature, basil plants have an extensive root system and grow soon. Plant suffocation could result from a lack of airflow to the roots if not provided.

When plant roots penetrate the drainage holes and cause curling leaves, we call this the root-bound problem.

How to fix it? 

Simply moving the Basil to a larger container is the best action. Use potting soil with good drainage and organic content to increase fertility. Leaves on your basil plant may curl as it adjusts to its new environment in a pot.

2. Nutrient Deficiency

Basil plants can stress from lacking nutrients; their leaves become thinner and curl upward.

Yellowing and curling of lower leaves indicate a potassium shortfall, stiffness of younger upper leaves indicates a calcium deficiency, and a blueish hue around the leaf margins indicates a copper deficiency in the plant.

How to fix it? 

For safe size/flavor enhancement, we recommend using a 10-10-10 dose of balanced all-purpose fertilizer to spray on the leaves.

3. Transplant Shock

Transplant shock is another explanation for wilting basil leaves. When moved a basil plant from one place to another and the plant becomes stressed because of the new growing conditions, this is called “transplant shock.” It is common after relocating the basil plant to a new container or the great outdoors.

Transplant shock inhibits the growth of new basil plants, seeing all your care efforts end just as the growing season begins. Basil may curl as a result of the plant’s rapid development.

How to fix it? 

Avoid this by repotting basil seedlings about three weeks after germination and progressively exposing them to outside temperatures.

4. Unsuitable Sunlight

Sunlight is essential for the growth of basil plants. Basil’s leaves turn dark and curl when they don’t get enough sunlight. It also causes the leaves to shrink and seem deformed. The plant cannot get enough of the sun it needs if you put it somewhere that gets little or no direct sunlight.

How to fix it? 

Basil needs six or eight hours of direct or indirect sunshine daily. It can even tolerate four hours of direct sunlight when other growing conditions are ideal.

Growing Basil indoors requires a north-facing window, whereas growing basil outside requires full sun. Lights should use to simulate sunlight for indoor basil plants.

5. Inadequate Watering

Basil leaves curl for two reasons: either too much or too little water.

How does overwatering affect curling basil leaves? 

To thrive, basil plants need potting soil that is just slightly damp. Root rot, caused by excessive moisture, prevents roots from performing their physiological functions.

Damaged roots cannot absorb water and critical minerals due to root rot. Basil leaves turning yellow and curling are the earliest indicators of root rot.

How to fix it? 

It is essential to always check the soil moisture by sticking your index finger in the top two or three inches. If the dirt in the pots is arid, add some water.

Basil plants are watered more frequently during the spring and summer. As a result of the reduced transpiration rate throughout the winter, you should water your plants less frequently.

How does underwatering affect curling basil leaves? 

Basil plants perish in dry weather. You’ll observe the basil leaves twisting and drooping owing to dehydration.

How to fix it? 

The herb water increases the soil’s moisture and rehydrates the plant. Develop a tight watering routine to keep your basil plants healthy and happy. Consider increasing the frequency of your watering of potted plants during hot, dry spells.

6. Pest and Insect Attack 

The basil plants we grow in our garden get attacked by bugs. Although this doesn’t prove that these herbs are pest-proof, it suggests they are.

The most common pests of Basil are red spider mites, aphids, thrips, and scales. They drain the plant’s critical fluids and cause tissue damage.

How do spider mites affect curling basil leaves? 

Insects that feed on plant sap include spider mites. Damage from these pests manifests as brown or yellow spots on Basil leaves, which eventually cause the leaves to curl.

They are tiny and difficult to spot. Spider mites can be detected by gently shaking the plant and looking for a white powdery substance to fall off.

How do aphids affect curling basil leaves? 

Aphids, which feed on plant sap, will eat away at the leaves of a basil plant. Basil’s leaves will curl and turn yellow if the bug doesn’t eliminate on time.

The basil plant leaves are the source of most of the plant’s food, and these pests feed off of them. The plant’s overall health declines, the leaves curl, and eventually, the plant dies if it cannot absorb enough nutrients through the air.

How to fix pest and insect issues? 

Verifying the existence of bugs requires checking the underside of the leaves. Applying neem oil directly to the bugs and both sides of the leaves is the most effective method for protecting plants from pests.

Spraying insecticidal soap on a plant that you suspect has an infestation is often enough to keep the insects at bay. It would help if you only poured when the plant’s leaves are in the shadow to avoid burning them. Spraying does not recommend when temperatures exceed 90⁰F(32 ⁰C.).

7. Temperature Stress

As a tropical plant, Basil is particularly vulnerable to rapid temperature shifts. Basil leaves become misshapen when exposed to severe cold, frost, or drafts.

Curled and blackened basil leaves are a sign of having been exposed to drafts for too long. It also prevents further growth from occurring.

How to fix it? 

Herbs like Basil do best between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Basil produces little leaves in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, or their color becomes brown.

If living in a colder climate, keep in mind to prune back damaged leaves and protect your plant from late spring frosts by placing an inverted crate or box over it. If you grow Basil indoors, you might consider using a heating pad to maintain a steady temperature. Watering more frequently is recommended during heatwaves to avoid dehydration.

8. Diseases

Fusarium Wilt and Powdery Mildew are the two most common diseases that may plague your Basil plant.

How does Fusarium Wilt affect curling basil leaves? 

Fusarium wilt, which causes leaves to curl and turn brown, is a devastating fungal disease. To put it another way, it causes a fungus that will attack your Basil and destroy it.

Once this illness has infected your plant, it will never recover. Preventative measures are the only viable option.

How does Powdery Mildew affect curling basil leaves? 

Basil’s leaves will curl if they get the fungal illness known as powdery mildew. The Basil will develop Powdery Mildews, grey material when this illness strikes.

Basil is susceptible to this illness when overwatered and kept in the dark setting. Neglected can cause issues and even the loss of Basil’s great culinary applications.

How to fix them? 

Fungicide should use to address the damping-off situation. Since fusarium wilt cannot cure, it is more devastating.

One must remember that the golden rule of preventing fungal growth is not to overwater. Make sure to give the basil plants plenty of room to grow and thrive.

9. Planting Problems

Because of its rapid growth, Basil is often grown in too small or too shallow containers, preventing the roots from spreading out and establishing the extensive network of nodes required to support the plant’s massive, healthy leaves.

Inadequately sized containers may dry up too quickly in the sun, which can cause the plant to wilt and wrinkle.

How to fix it? 

Pots should have drainage holes at least 8 inches in diameter and 3 to 4 inches in depth to prevent waterlogging. Larger containers allow more soil to retain moisture during hotter months.

10. Over-fertilizing

Finally, if a synthetic fertilizer sprays at too high of a concentration or if it supplies to a dry plant, fertilizer burn can occur, distorting the leaves.

How to fix it? 

Overfertilization and salt accumulation can be remedied by simply placing the plant in a sink or other suitable spot and flushing it out with water (three to four times). Avoid letting the plant become soggy at any cost. A thirsty plant is not a fertilized plant.

11. Poor Soil Condition

Inadequate drainage and soil out of balance might ruin otherwise ideal conditions. For optimal growth, Basil needs loamy, fertile soil with a pH of 7.0.

Stunned woody stems that curl the leaves can result from soil that is overly acidic or alkaline and therefore unable to drain correctly.

How to fix it? 

If your soil is too alkaline, try adding some lime; if it’s too acidic, try some mulch or leaf mold.

Adding a compost layer to the soil at the beginning of each growing season (early March) will improve drainage and soil fertility, but remember that more additives may dilute the flavor.

12. Lack of Humidity 

Basils are tropical plants; therefore, they thrive when the temperature and humidity are high. The leaves on basil plants curl and droop because of the dry air conditioning.

How to fix it? 

When the air around the plant becomes dry, spray the basil leaves. Indoor basils benefit significantly from increased humidity; a humidifier is a great way to achieve this.

Maintaining a humidity level in the house over 50% is vital and keeping the air circulating. Fungal growth is more likely when there is inadequate ventilation and high humidity.

Can I revive curled basil leaves?

To save Basil that has curled up, one must first determine what caused it to die. The first and most crucial step in halting the basil leaves’ curl is recognizing its origin. If you water the basil plant regularly and keep it in a sunny spot, it should grow solid and robust leaves.

After recognizing the problem, a solution can implement. Curling leaves are notoriously tough to revive, whether from a virus or fungus.

What are the common caring tips for Basil plants to prevent curling leaves?

In other words, growing Basil is a simple effort. These are several best ways to ensure a plentiful yield from my basil plants without curling leaves or other problems.

How to Treat My Basil Leaves Curling?| Guide with 12 Reasons

1. Provide proper lights for plants.

This plant requires a location with lots of direct sunlight. Indoor basil plants get very little light. So, it’s best to grow it outside in the full sun or near a window for maximum safety. The use of grow lights is an additional option.

Curling leaves indicate that your plant needs to move from its current location. Place it where the Basil will get at least six hours of sunshine daily.

2. Prepare rich soil. 

Basil thrives in loamy soil that is somewhat acidic, between 6 and 7 on the pH scale. Compost, cottonseed, or blood meal are excellent organic nutrients for the ground.

3. Water basil plants regularly.

Basil likes consistently damp conditions and needs around an inch of water each week to thrive. At least once a week, water to keep the soil moist and the roots growing deep.

Growing basil in a pot could require more watering than usual. The key to successful container basil cultivation is preventing the ground from drying up. The ideal time of day to water basil is early in the morning.

4. Pinch off the leaves.

When the basil plant has two sets of true leaves, pinch off the leaves at the tips. That way, your Basil will develop into a full bush.

5. Avoid bolting.

Keep an eye on your plant to ensure it doesn’t “bolt” or go to seed. When summer temperatures are regularly high, Basil tends to “bolt.”

Keeping the soil moist and providing shade during the warmest parts of the day will help prevent this. Pinch off blooming stems about an inch below the flower to avoid the plant’s seed production from turning bitter.

6. Fertilize lightly.

Basil is an easy-growing plant that thrives with minimal to no fertilization. Overfertilizing Basil will indeed make it taste not very pleasant.

If you prefer to apply fertilizer, a light application of a liquid fertilizer twice a season is all you need for Basil growing outdoors. If you’re growing Basil in a container and want to fertilize it, you can get away with applying a very dilute liquid solution once every three to four weeks.

7. Companion planting.

Applying this method, Basil gains a significant competitive edge. Though it may be an old wives’ tale among gardeners, putting basil plants in with your tomatoes improves the flavor of both. Some of my favorite basil companion plants are oregano, lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers.

8. Harvest regularly.

Don’t stop picking throughout the season unless you have to. The goal to stimulate new growth is to remove one-third of the leaves each month. Basil is a summertime staple for me, and I’ve found that it stores well in olive oil in the freezer for use throughout the year.

5 Best varieties of Basil to grow in your garden

Given the wide availability of many basil cultivars, you could efficiently devote an entire herb garden to this one plant. Here are some of the best basil types to grow in your garden.

1. Lemon Basil

The ‘Lemon’ variety is a hybrid with a fresh lemon aroma and a sweet-tart flavor widely used in Indonesian cooking. As they reach maturity, the plants will have expanded to a width of 12 inches and a height of 20 inches.

2. Thai Basil

Thai Basil has a spicy, licorice-like flavor and uses in Southeast Asian cooking. Thanks to the purple hues of its stems and blossoms, it’s a pretty plant. However, its aroma diminishes over time if stored; therefore, it’s best to consume it fresh.

3. Sweet Basil

Fresh in salads, sandwiches, and wraps, or when added to pesto, sauces, and savory recipes, ‘Sweet’ Basil, one of the most popular types, has a strong licorice flavor and spicy clove scent.

4. Dark Opal Basil

The decorative appeal of ‘Dark Opal’ stems from its lovely dark purple foliage and pinky-lilac blooms. Anise-based with a dash of ginger, this flavor is versatile enough to be used in savory and sweet preparations.

5. Genovese Basil

The ‘Genovese’ variety is an old Italian heirloom with a strong anise flavor, a fragrant clove aroma, and big, glossy leaves. This kind can reach a maximum height of 16 inches and a width of 12 inches.

Watch how to prune your basil plant with 3 Tips | Video

Top 5 FAQs & answers related to How to treat my basil leaves curling

Can I eat curled basil leaves? 

Yes. But before you boil it, make sure the curled parts are spotless. Pests hiding in the basil leaves’ curls might detract from your cooking’s flavor.

How often should you water Basil?

Basil likes consistently damp conditions and needs around an inch of water each week to thrive. Make sure to give your plants a good soaking at least once a week so their roots may spread and the soil can remain moist. More frequent watering requires for Basil grown in pots. The key to successful container basil cultivation is preventing the ground from drying up.

Is it best to plant Basil indoors or outdoors?

Basil may be grown successfully in either an indoor or outdoor setting due to its robust nature. As long as there is enough water and sunlight, the plant can grow wherever.
Basil is one of my favorite herbs, so I always have some growing indoors or out. Learning how to cultivate Basil in a container opens up a world of options for its placement and presentation.

How long does Basil take to mature from seeds?

When planted, Basil takes about a week to sprout. Usually, it can harvest after only 3–4 weeks.

Why is Basil leaves drooping and wilting? 

Overly dry or overly damp soil is to blame when basil plants wilt. Basil plants require full sun and continuously moist, high-quality soil with sufficient drainage to flourish. A basil plant that is drooping or wilting is a sign that you must reevaluate your watering routine.


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