If you have ever bought potted basil from the supermarket you are probably aware of how little time it lasts for. This short life span (usually under a week) is not however due to a lack of proper care from you but because your basil plant was never actually destined to last very long at all. 

Although supermarket basil usually looks healthy when first bought it often wilts and dies within a week of purchase. This is not because of you but because of how supermarket basil is planted. Although your basil plant may look like one singular healthy plant it is actually made up of around 20 smaller plants. These are all squashed together into one pot to give the illusion of a singular healthy plant. This means that all 20 plants are competing for light, water and nutrients from the soil, this competition is why your plant dies so soon.

So, to extend your basil’s life you must split up the individual plants and replant them into new containers. To do this divide the 20 plants into clumps of about three and then place each clump into a new container (I like using empty toilet rolls or cans with holes punched in the bottom) with some soil. Next, place your pots in a shallow tub and leave them on a sunny window sill and in a week you should have numerous pots of healthy basil which should last for months if cared for properly. 

Furthermore, if the basil you grew from your first plant was not enough it is very easy to propagate and have an almost everlasting supply. To do this simply take about a 3 inch cutting of your plant and place it in water. After a few days roots should start to grow and once these have grown to a good length you can plant your cutting in some soil to give yourself a new, healthy plant. In this way you can almost have everlasting basil.

Catherine MacDonald, a keen local gardener, who introduced me to the idea of growing basil from super market pots talked to me about how easy it is to grow and the benefits of growing your own: “Growing basil, along with other herbs, is easy to do and very rewarding. By growing your own basil you are not only reducing waste and saving money but filling up your time with an enjoyable and rewarding experience.”

So, next time you buy potted basil maybe try doing a little bit of re-potting and cutting to not only save money but provide yourself with healthier and longer lasting basil.