Grow Thai Basil Like a Pro: Tips and Recipes

If you’re a fan of Thai cuisine, then you know the delight that Thai basil brings to a dish. With its distinct aroma and flavor, Thai basil is a must-have ingredient for any herb garden. In this article, we will explore how to grow Thai basil, the different varieties available, and some mouthwatering recipes to try!

Thai Basil Varieties

While Italian basil may be the most popular variety in the U.S., there are several other types worth exploring. Lemon basil, purple basil, and tulsi are just a few examples. There are also multiple varieties of Thai basil, with Thai sweet basil and Thai holy basil being the most common.

Thai sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is similar to Italian basil, while Thai holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) has a unique flavor profile. The leaves of holy basil have a serrated edge and a slightly different scent. It is often used in traditional Thai dishes like pad kra pao (stir-fried pork with holy basil).

Thai sweet basil

How to Grow Thai Basil

Growing Thai basil is relatively easy, whether you choose to plant it in the ground or in containers. Start by either purchasing young Thai basil plants or growing them from seeds. If starting from seeds, it’s best to begin indoors about 4-6 weeks before the last frost.

Once the seedlings are a few inches tall and the weather has warmed, you can transplant them outside. Thai basil loves heat and thrives in full sun. Plant them about 10 inches apart and ensure the soil is consistently above 50°F/10°C.

To encourage bushier growth, regularly pinch off the tops and prevent the plants from flowering. You can also succession sow seeds every few weeks for a continuous supply of Thai basil.

Thai basil seed packet

Pest & Disease Management

While Thai basil is not typically plagued by pests, it is susceptible to fungal diseases, especially in humid conditions. To prevent these issues, make sure to harvest basil with clean shears, provide adequate air circulation, avoid splashing water on the leaves, and allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

Harvesting Tips

You can start harvesting Thai basil even when the plants are young, as the early growth stage offers the most pungent and flavorful leaves. However, for a season-long harvest, wait until the plants are about 10 inches tall with multiple branching stems.

When harvesting, cut stems or pinch off sections of leaves down to a growth node. This not only encourages branching but also prevents the plant from flowering too quickly. If the plant does flower, don’t worry—it won’t affect the flavor. Just regularly prune off the flowers to prevent seed production.

How to Grow Thai Basil

Thai Basil Recipes

Thai basil is widely used as a vegetable in Southeast Asian cuisine. Its bold flavor is perfect for salads, stir-fries, curries, and soups. Here are a few of our favorite recipes that showcase the versatility of Thai basil:

  • Pad Kra Pao (Stir-Fry with Thai Basil): This classic Thai dish combines stir-fried pork with holy basil for a flavorful and aromatic meal.
    Pork and Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao), by
  • Thai Basil Fried Rice: A quick and delicious one-pot meal that pairs fragrant Thai basil with savory rice and a medley of vegetables.
  • Thai Basil Chicken: Tender chicken cooked with garlic, chili, and Thai basil leaves—perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

We hope this guide has inspired you to grow your own Thai basil and explore the wonderful flavors it can bring to your cooking. Happy gardening and cooking, everyone!

Note: This article has been adapted from an original source: The Woks of Life.