Yellow leaves and stunted basil plants

Asked July 7, 2014, 12:38 PM EDT

I planted 2 basil plants in a 6 or so gallon plastic container at the end of May. They were store bought (Bonnie plants) and small. After a few weeks they didn't seem to do anything. I thought maybe the pot was too small. About 2 weeks ago I put them in a larger (10 or so gallon) plastic container. When I put them in the bigger pot I added Miracle Gro tomato plant food. I haven't added any since. The plants are still stunted. Both pots contained Miracle Gro potting mix.

The leaves were turning yellow. I thought they had a fungus so I used a homemade solution found on the Internet. The solution was 1 tablespoon each of baking soda and vegetable oil with a few drops of dish soap to 1 gallon of water. (I added more baking soda by mistake and I used olive oil. Probably not a good idea) The leaves turned black and then yellow again.

I've been pinching the upper leaves, but they are taking a long time to grow. They aren't bushy, either. The new little leaves are green, but the larger leaves are yellow and fall off easily. I water with well water. I can use reverse osmosis water if it will make a difference.

They are in direct sun for at least 8-9 hours a day.

Is it the plastic container?
Is it too much or too little water?
Too much plant food? Not enough?
Too much sun?


Monroe County Pennsylvania

1 Response

Hello Gardener, Thank you for contacting Bonnie Plants. These look sun scalded and under watered. Basil likes good sun but prefers shade in the afternoon. It also likes more water than other herbs but will not tolerate standing water at all. Check the soil 1inch below the surface to see if there is any moisture present, if yes then no more water for the day. If dry, water completely so water comes out the drainage holes. Also make sure your soil drains well. You did correct for the fungus and that is often found in basil so keep eyes for it to return and treat immediately. Keep the lower leaves off the soil to help reduce this.