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How to Grow Lime Basil from Seed [Easy Techniques]

Growing Basil is darn easy, and I grow several varieties in my garden, including my favorite lime basil.

I believed growing lime basil is so easy that you can never go wrong until I heard a few gardeners complaining about the delayed seed growth.

Delayed seed growth is a sign that you either got the sowing technique or environmental conditions utterly wrong. Let me share a proven technique with you today.

Soak seeds in warm water overnight before sowing them in a seed starter using a commercial potting mix. Provide 14-16hr of light and plenty of water each day to boost germination. Once the seedlings start sprouting, water sparingly, and ensure to provide all-purpose organic plant food!

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Voila! After 6-8 weeks, you will have a green, bushy lime basil plant with flavorful leaves ready to consume.

Seedlings sprouting from seed starter kit
Seedlings sprouting from seed starter kit (Source:

Sounds easy, right?

Not so fast! Figuring how to sow the seeds is only the first step among many.

Read on to know about all the easy sowing techniques and steps to grow lime basil from seeds in varying conditions and temperatures!

Best Time to Grow Lime Basil

Lime basil seeds are very picky! They require warm soil and temperature above 65oF (20oC) to germinate into healthy seedlings.

Lime basil seed can suffer under cold temperature, causing uneven or stalled growth.

Thus, the best time to start growing lime basil is in late March, when the winter has passed but not later than May when the spring is already booming.

Things to Consider When Sowing Lime Basil Seeds

  • Avoid sowing lime basil seeds before winter ultimately ends.
  • If you decide to sow seeds, consider sowing them indoors in a tray six weeks before your average last frost date.
  • If you are planting seeds outdoors, make sure the frost has already passed, such as in early spring.
  • For a warm climate (69-84oF/21-29oC) region, start planting lime basil seeds directly in your garden one week after the last frost.
  • In case of delayed spring, consider growing your plant indoors for at least four weeks before transplanting it outdoors. (Ensure to provide sunlight whenever possible)

Best Potting Mix for Germinating Lime Basil Seeds

Remember, lime basil seeds require well-drained, warm, and nutrient-rich potting to start germinating.

Consider using a quality commercial potting mix rich in natural mulch and nutrients for your lime basil seeds.

For a desirable effect, mix all-purpose compost feed such as Dave Thompson’s Organic Healthy Grow HGR 335 with the native soil or use it as part of a plant mixture.

You can also use a seed starter potting mix to ensure fast root development.

Enriched Soil Mix
Enriched Soil Mix (Source: Pexels)

Alternatively, you can mix organic mulch and diluted bone meal to prepare a homemade potting mix without the need for buying a commercial product. Check how to prepare garden soil to know more.

Materials Needed for Germinating Lime Basil Seed

Depending on whether you want to grow basil seeds indoor or outdoor, you would need few different items.

Germinating lime basil indoors requires many items, including;

  • Seed starter germination kit
  • Pre-moistened seed starter or Peat pellets
  • All-purpose organic compost
  • Lime Basil Seeds
  • Plastic Dome
  • Fluorescent light fixture
  • Fan, Heat mat, Timer, Gloves (Optional)

For growing seeds outdoor, you would mostly need troweling items such as a garden shovel, garden scoop, and shovel rake or garden fork, and plant food such as all-purpose organic compost.

Grow Lime Basil from Seeds in Two Easy Techniques

The instructions for growing lime basil from seeds may depend on whether you’re using a germination kit/tray or a vegetable garden.

1. Germinating Lime Basil Seeds Indoor

Here is how to grow lime basil from seeds using a germination kit or tray (Indoors).

Step 1: Prepare Seeds

Soak seeds in warm water overnight.

Soaking the seeds will break down their natural defenses, including many inhibitors that prevent seeds from germinating.

Step 2: Fill the Seeds in Planting Cell

Fill each planting cell in the germination kit with a pre-moistened seed starter or soil pellets, whatever you prefer.

Determine how many seeds will go in each planting cell. Plant 2-3 seeds per cell if you’re using old seeds with a low germination rate—otherwise, plant only one seed per cell.

Don’t smash these tiny seeds but place them on top of the soil and gently push them inside. Make sure they go 1/4″ deep.

Step 3: Moisten the Seeds

Now, moistened the mix by adding water into the tray and allow the soil to soak it up from the bottom naturally.

Step 4: Maintain the Temperature for Seeds

Cover the kit with a plastic dome to ensure that the soil remains moist and warm throughout the germination process.

Use fluorescent fixture or lamp to provide at least 14hr of continuous light and maintain the soil temperature around 70oF at all times.

Use a reliable Earth Thermometer to check the soil temperature and change the intensity of fluorescent light accordingly.

Step 5: Transfer the Sprouted Seeds

Once germinated, transfer it to a pot (4-5inches in diameter), or transplant it to the amended ground soil.

Step 6: Provide the Required Fertilizer

Remove any flowers that may appear on the stem as they will suck off the juices meant for basil leaves.

Feed your plant with quality fertilizer rich in potassium and calcium and regularly prune to encourage new leaf growth.

Here is a video explaining how to prune your basil plant.

2. Germinating Lime Basil Seeds Outdoor

Here are the steps to grow lime basil from seeds outdoor.

Step 1: Prepare the Soil

Start by amending the soil generously with compost which helps to keep the soil moist and well-drained at all times.

Alternatively, you can grow your seeds in a tray indoors and transplant the germinated seedling in the garden, whatever works with you.

Step 2: Plant the Seeds

Plant your seeds 6-12 inches apart from each other to allow each seed to take up the most from the soil.

Take a garden shovel to dig up the ground and add a seed 1/8″ deep before covering it with the soil.

The seed will germinate in 10-14 days, depending on the temperature.

Step 3: Water Your Seeds

Water every day until the mature leaves emerge (2-3 weeks). Limit watering to three times a week, then water twice a week.

Step 4: Fertilize Your Tiny Plants

Mix a water-soluble organic fertilizer in a sprayer and water directly over the base and soil. Keep the fertilizer away from the leaves.

Step 5: Pinch Flowers

Pinch back flower stalks as they appear and prune accordingly.

Step 6: Harvest the Plant

Once the plant reaches 4-6 inches in height, punch off the top-most branches to encourage broader and bushier growth.

Your lime basil is ready to harvest after 6-8 weeks.

How Long Does it Take to Grow Lime Basil from Seed?

The duration for lime basil seeds to germinate and later grow into a tall bush will take anywhere from six to eight weeks.

  • The seed will start germinating after 5-10 days, both indoors and outdoors, in the right conditions. Sometimes, it may take 14-20 days outdoors, depending on the weather and soil temperature.
  • It can tolerate temperatures down to 50oF, but the prolonged cold can alter the growth. Anything below 32oFahrenheit (0oC) will permanently damage the plant seed. Hence, avoid planting seeds outside until the frost clears and the temperature rises above 65oF.
  • The warmer climates with temperatures rising above 90oF will quickly dry the soil and choke plant seeds. Thus, germinating the seeds indoors before moving them outside when the temperature drops below 90oF will be a wise choice.
  • The first few weeks would require sowing and conditioning the seedlings and another 2-3 weeks for preparing it before you can transplant it on a pot or garden.
  • The further two weeks of basking in full sunlight, feeding once with fertilizer, and additional pruning (either on pot or garden) will make plant leaves suitable for consumption.
    Germinated Basil Sprouts
    Germinated Basil Sprouts (Source:

Factors that Affect the Growth of Lime Basil

Growing lime basil is fun until you start having different problems, including seeds failing to germinate or taking too long to sprout.

You can easily prevent these problems by following these quick solutions.

1. Well-Drained Soil

Lime basil needs well-drained soil because soggy soil will cause root rot, and dry soil will choke the plant.

A well-drained soil stays warm and slightly moist, perfect for tender plants like Lime basil.

Using the wrong soil for starting seeds can also affect lime basil’s growth, such as soil lacking nutrients.

Quick Solutions

  • Use the commercial potting mix for germinating seeds to counter the problem of nutrient-poor soil.
  • Ensure the soil is never soggy, and always drain excess water from the trays after watering.
  • After transplanting it to a pot or garden, let the topsoil slightly harden before watering again.
  • Improve garden soil with all-purpose organic compost and add mulch to maintain soil moisture and aeration.

2. Appropriate Lighting

Lime Basil plant thrives in full or partial sunlight, without which the plant will get tall and leggy. These kinds of plants produce fewer leaves with yellowing textures.

The plant grows best in full sunlight, but avoid exposing it to direct sunlight for a significant time because the leaves could dry up quickly.

Quick Solutions

  • Use an inexpensive fluorescent light fixture for 14-16 hours a day to germinate seeds in a tray.
  • Adjust the height of the fluorescent light as the seedlings get taller.
  • Provide 6-8 hours of full sunlight to seedlings and matured plants every day.
  • Bring potted plants inside or add a temporary shade for outdoor plants because basil enjoys some afternoon shade.

Consider reading Why are Basil Leaves Turning Yellow? to find remedies for yellowing lime basil leaves.

3. Appropriate Location

Placing your plant in a well-lit area encourages its healthy growth and prevents problems caused by wet conditions.

Keep in mind that too much sunlight could burn the plant, the cold weather could slow its growth, and wet conditions would cause root rot.

Quick Solutions

  • Choose an outdoor area that has moist but well-drained soil.
  • Make sure your plant receives full or partial sunlight with afternoon shade.
  • Consider moving the pot to the window during the day for sunlight.
  • Bring the plant pots inside when the outdoor temperature rises above 90oF.
  • Install temporary shades for lime basil plants planted on the ground.

4. Watering Frequency

Watering lime basil plants can be tricky considering the varying season and temperature from region to region. Knowing how often to water your plant depends on where, when, and how you grow it.

The seedlings would need daily watering to ensure quicker sprout. Once transplanted in a large pot or outdoors, the watering frequency should be weekly.

Quick Solutions

  • To prevent mold growth during germination, water the germinating trays from the bottom.
  • Water sparingly, once the seed germinates, to prevent the soil from damping off.
  • For outdoor plants, provide 1″ to 1-½” of water once a week.
  • For indoor plants, provide 1″ of water once a week to check whether the soil turns soggy. If it does, lessen the amount of watering to 2/3″.
  • Water the plant deeply once a week and once every 3-4 days during summer.
  • Water the plant every 2-3 days during the drought.

5. Using Organic Fertilizer

Lime basil benefits from selected water-soluble organic fertilizers. Regular fertilizing the plant will ensure healthy growth, robust stems, and bushy leaves.

It enjoys nutrient-rich soil, but too much nutrient will take away its citrusy flavor intensity.

Quick Solutions

  • Start feeding seedlings with a weak dose of fertilizer, and then move your way up to full strength as they get larger.
  • Feed them every month with all-purpose fertilizer like Miracle-Gro, Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food that provides both micro and macronutrients.
  • Use 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium content) formulas for fertilizing basil plants for year-round sprouting.
  • Use water-soluble feed over granules for a quick boost.

6. Right Temperature

Lime basil thrives in warm temperatures. Growing the plant in early spring and summer provides it with significant warmth.

Moreover, lime basil requires a minimum outdoor soil temperature of 70oF to grow effectively.

However, it despises the cold climate (below 50oF) and arid climate with temperatures rising above 90oF.

Quick Solutions

  • Prevent damages from cold such as loopy leaves, yellowing leaves, and slowed growth by growing the plant specifically when the temperature exceeds 65oF (20oC)
  • Plant seeds when the frost has already passed.
  • Keep the potted plants outside during the day and inside during the night.
  • Avoid growing basil plants in colder regions.
Lime Basil harvest
Lime Basil harvest


This succulent plant only requires few straightforward techniques and the right amount of care to grow from seeds into a healthy, lush plant.

You can never go wrong with growing lime basil when you stick to correct techniques.

Always keep three things in mind, soil condition, temperature, and watering, when sowing and caring for your lime basil.

And most of all, harvest, harvest, harvest! The secret to happier and bushier plants is frequent harvesting.

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