Thai Basil Leaves: Key Facts for You!

Growing Thai Basil is an exciting hobby. The leaves of Thai Basil contain many beneficial medicinal compounds such as flavonoids, coumarins, and essential oils.

thai basil leaves1 | Plant Gardener

Nowadays, medical scientists and researchers have worked on the antiviral effects of Thai basil that they found out.

The main components which give a sweet flavor to Thai basil leaves are Eugenol and methyl chavicol. 

These two substances provide the major pharmacological activities such as antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and cytotoxic effects. 

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The best way to grow Thai basil is by purchasing seeds at a garden store. The seeds should be planted indoors about four, keeping mixed organic matter weeks before the last frost date in your area or outdoors soon after that time. 

Seeds can also be sown directly into the ground but doing this requires good soil drainage and regular watering. 

Plant TypePerennial herb, grown as an annual
Native to:Asia
Hardiness (USDA Zone):10-11
SeasonSummer
ExposureFull sun
Time to maturity60-90 days
Spacing12 inches
Planting depth1/4 inch (seeds)
HeightUp to 30 inches

How To Grow Thai Basil That Will Produce Healthy Leaves?

I would like to share some tips on how I have kept my basil plant producing great leaves over the years. The leaves are healthy enough to eat raw in salads or cooked in various dishes, including stir-fries or hot pots. Growing this herb at home is easy because the plant is not very demanding.

Artificial growing: Artificial growing media such as peat moss do not work because they dry out too quickly compared to soil. I have found that Thai basil does best in nutrient-rich, deep fertile garden soil with lots of mixed organic matter. 

Sunshine: Choose an area where the plant will get plenty of sunshine (four hours or more). For best results, make sure your location is on the south side of your home if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, like Boston. This way, your basil plant will receive plenty of direct sunlight during the day.

Watering: Another factor that determines how fast or slow your basil grows is watering. You should always keep the leaves slightly damp, like after every two to three days but never them to be soggy. I have noticed that the more leaves there are, the faster they need to be watered.

Temperature: In my experience, basil will not go dormant in winter, as some sources indicate. It continues to grow at a slow pace throughout winter here in Massachusetts. Still, it produces plenty of edible leaves until it goes into a slumber during late spring and early summer, where the plant stops growing altogether. 

This usually occurs on or around July 4th each year, depending on how warm or cold it is outside. Then all you have left is a rhizome on a stalk similar to asparagus for next year’s crop.

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How To Ensure Thai Basil Leaves Don’t Die?

The hot and dry weather is not suitable for Thai basil leaves. The leaves turn yellow and die off, especially when the plants are crowded by other plants that block sunlight.

Gardeners should prune the plant’s branches or support them with stakes if they are too heavy to stand up straight. Overcrowded branches might touch the ground, which traps water leading to soil-borne diseases. 

If leaves are infected, gardeners should remove them immediately to avoid spreading diseases to other healthy plants. They can use pesticides or fungicide spray but make sure it does not harm bees because these insects help pollinate flowers.

Setting up shade cloth over the plants will protect them from sun exposure and prevent aphids from laying eggs on their branches.

Some Thai basil plants are weaker than others. Individual weak seedlings can die off during transplanting. Gardeners should choose potent, healthy seeds with a high germination rate for planting. 

They should avoid using old, expired seeds because they have lower viability and tend not to grow well. All plants should be of the same age to ensure consistent growth.

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How To Get Rid Of Pests That Might Affect Thai Basil Leaves?

Nowadays, due to the rapid progress of science and technology, pesticides are very effective in controlling pests.  We only need to choose the right pesticide for our basil plants. 

How? First, you will need to distinguish whether the pest is a harmful type or not. If it is harmful, use natural means to control them because most are not poisonous. 

Most are beneficial insects that don’t eat up all the leaves on your plants, but their population keeps getting bigger, eating into every part of your plant without any poison left on them at all.

1). Wasps hole: Check if they’ve made any holes on the stalk of basil leaves and shoot some insecticide for wasps down inside those holes by using a cotton swab or just use your hand. This is used for the control of wasps, moths, and other harmful insects.

2). Aphids: These are very tiny creatures that usually gather on one single part of your plant, like leaf undersides or tops or even on leaves that are rarely moved around by the wind. Etc. They only leave the edge of the leaf untouched when they eat up all its green juices inside it, destroying it in time to come. (which won’t take long)

3). Snails and slugs: Usually, these pests crawl into farms at night (especially during the dewy season). After then they will whistle through the entire farm, eating up all-new growing plants everywhere they go while leaving no poison on them at all too. 

So what do we have to do to get rid of them? We should cover the entire surface of our plants with a low concentration pesticide, for example, 1% or 2%, then they will crawl into that area and start sniffing around, trying to find out if anything is interesting inside. Of course, they’ll get poisoned after smelling it and die almost immediately.

4). Caterpillars: In Thailand, this pest primarily feeds on Chinese cabbage, but in other countries, these might eat up all kinds of different plants, including basil leaves too. 

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These pests usually grow from egg to caterpillar before changing into butterflies ones, which is a good sign because we don’t need to use any poison. However, when you see small worms on your plant, I’d advise spraying some pesticide to kill them as they might grow into big caterpillars and eat up all your leaves.

5). Thrips are usually found on different plants, but the most common is basil leaves. 

They are very small, and their eggs can stick onto leaves’ undersides, so we should use some pesticides for fruit trees and pea plants and spray them on plant surfaces that help control thrips. This pest has a mouth like a needle with which it eats up all green juices inside your basil plant’s veins, leaving only the outer edge untouched.

6). Spider mites: As everyone knows, these pests mostly attack cabbages, soybeans, cucumbers, spinach, and especially basil. It’s a very tiny pest, but when their population grows, they’ll eat up all your basil leaves from the edge inwards until finally they have only the stalk left, which another new one will replace plant surfaces

7). Whiteflies: This is also a harmful insect whose larvae feed on plant juices inside leaves’ veins which ries up your crops to become not edible anymore. On top of that, this pest spreads viruses quickly too. 

When you find whiteflies flying around or coming out from flower buds or under them, I’d advise spraying some pesticide for fruit trees on your plants to kill them.

8). Mealybugs: As most people know, this kind of pest is mainly found around the water-sucking areas of basil leaves where they lay eggs too. 

The eggs are very tiny and hard to see with our eyes. We should use a magnifying glass to check those places before spraying some pesticide for houseplants or fruit trees onto those spots and under-leaf edges. 

This will help control mealybugs too. I’d advise spraying twice at intervals of about ten days each time during the dewy season to keep those pests from reproducing and breeding new generations quickly.

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Benefits of basil leaves:

1). High blood pressure

A study found that the essential oil in basil effectively reduced high blood pressure and showed no signs of drug interactions, leading researchers to conclude that it is safe and beneficial when treating hypertension.

2). Antibacterial activity

Basil leaves contain chemicals called eugenol and methyl chavicol (estragole) which have been shown to kill gram-positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph).

3). Muscle aches

The analgesic properties of basil may help ease muscle pain associated with arthritis or other conditions causing chronic inflammation.

4). Fevers

Basil leaves are anti-inflammatory, which may help lower fevers caused by bacterial infections.

5). Depression/Stress/Anxiety

Basil leaves are antianxiety and antidepressant. These effects are probably due to basil’s content of magnesium, an essential mineral involved in the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters glutamate, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. 

Magnesium also helps relax muscles, making it particularly helpful for stress-related muscle spasms.

6). Headache relief

The analgesic properties of basil may help ease headache pain associated with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and bursitis.

7). Digestive problems

Basil has long been recognized for its ability to aid in the digestive process. The essential oils in basil speed up gastric emptying, which can help bowel movements feel easier and reduce bloating associated with poor digestion.

8). Anti-inflammatory activity

Basil leaves are anti-inflammatory, which may help lower fevers caused by bacterial infections.

9). Arthritis pain relief

It is known to be effective against swelling and pain of arthritis due to its analgesic properties.

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10). Prevention of stomach ulcers

A study found that basil leaf extract could protect the gastric mucosa from damage induced by “Helicobacter pylori.”

11). Inflammation of the skin

Basil leaves are known to have antioxidant activity, which may help treat conditions associated with skin inflammation. The oil from basil leaves has also been used to prevent dermatitis in tannery workers.

12). Stomach infection/HIV

Aqueous leaf extract of Ocimum canum has shown an ability to inhibit some strains of bacteria responsible for stomach infections and might be effective against HIV.

13). Colon cancer

Basil can reduce oxidative damage induced by “Azoxymethane,” a chemical that causes colon cancer. It was found that using different concentrations of basil, up to 80% of oxidative damage was prevented.

14). Cough relief

Basil tincture has been used to treat coughs associated with colds. It is believed that basil helps soothe the airways and eases breathing, which may be the reason for its cough-relieving effects.

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15). Stomach ailments

The essential oils found in basil leaves have antibacterial properties against Helicobacter pylori, a common cause of stomach ulcers. For this reason, it can help relieve symptoms of gastrointestinal conditions such as gastritis, amoebiasis, and traveler’s diarrhea.

16). Chronic fatigue syndrome

A study published by scientists from Thailand found that taking “Ocimum sanctum” extract twice a day for three months may improve the immune system and reduce fatigue in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

17). Heart health

Basil is rich in magnesium, which is known to help prevent overactive thyroid, calcium build-up in the coronary arteries, and high blood pressure. Magnesium also helps relax muscles, making it particularly helpful for stress-related muscle spasms.

18). Earache/Ear infection

The antiseptic properties of basil leaves make them ideal for treating ear infections. It is believed that basil helps clear excessive wax buildup caused by infection, reducing earache pain.

19). Weight loss

Studies have found that ingesting “Ocimum basilicum” extract increases the body’s heat production, helping burn more calories in a shorter period.

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20). Detoxification

Basil leaves are used in many detoxifying diets, especially for liver cleanse, blood cleansing, and kidney cleanses. The essential oils in basil leaves help stimulate the secretory glands making it easier to flush out toxins from the body.

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Takeaway

To create new plants from your Thai basil, simply take several inches of cuttings from stems with four to six leaf nodes, strip all the leaves from the bottom two inches of your cutting then bury the lower portion into moist garden soil. 

You should see signs of new growth within a week or so, depending on weather conditions.

Summary

Discover the aromatic world of Thai Basil Leaves at PlantGardener! Our blog unveils the secrets of cultivating and maximizing the flavors of this versatile herb. From planting tips to harvesting tricks, we guide you through every step. Explore creative culinary uses and health benefits that make Thai Basil a must-have in your herb garden. Elevate your cooking and gardening skills with insights tailored just for you. Dive into the vibrant universe of Thai Basil Leaves and transform your dishes into culinary delights! Read more at plantgardener.com/thai-basil-leaves.

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