Basil is one of the easiest plants to harvest seed from, and learning how to save basil seeds will give you the ability to grow basil for years!
Saving seeds is one of the easiest way to make your garden self-sufficient and to save money! Gardening can be an expensive if you’re not careful, so why not take advantage of all the free seeds that plants give off at the end of their season?
Why save basil seeds?
Basil seeds are so easy to save, that there’s really no good reason not to. They’re incredibly small, so storage isn’t an issue, and think of all the basil that you can grow from your very own seed.
I like to think of my ancestors when it comes to saving seed. That’s what most of them did, not just to save money, but because seed companies and Amazon weren’t just dropping off packages on their doorstep in two days. Ha! Saving seed helps me to feel more self-sufficient, and that’s always a good thing.
Basil seed can also be used not just for growing more basil, but there are health claims about consuming basil seed. I’m clearly not a doctor (and I’ve never played one on tv), but the Faddy Eater at the Guardian tried some popular methods of consuming basil seeds, and you can read his trials here.
How to save basil seeds
There are two different ways to save basil seeds. The first involves letting your plants go to seed and dry out outside. This is easy for us to do since we live in the hot south.
For this, I simply let our basil plants bolt (bloom) and once those blooms turn brown, I’ll harvest the seeds. To do this, I run my hand down the stem, collecting the seed heads. Then break them open to reveal the tiny black basil seeds inside. It’s very low-key and simple. (See the video at the bottom for how to do this.)
You can also cut your long basil bloom stalks off and bring them indoors. Set them on a paper plate or a paper towel. Give them several days to a week to completely dry out on your counter or table.
Once the blooms are dried, remove the seeds as mentioned above and store. I have a video below showing you how to remove the tiny black basil seeds for the flower heads.
How to store basil seeds
As with most seeds, basil seeds should be stored in a cool dry place. This usually means a paper envelope or small plastic container that seals well. If using plastic, be sure your seeds are completely dry before storing. Moisture will negatively affect your seeds, so also be sure your container is completely dry.
If your basil plant has gone to seed and there’s still plenty of growing season left, then plant a second harvest of basil. Simply take those seeds from your bolted basil plants and sprinkle them in an area of the garden that’s ready for something new.
Your basil plants should emerge within a few weeks. I’ve done this when we’ve had particularly hot summers, since excessive heat will cause basil to bloom more quickly. See my full post about Seed Storage Ideas for ways to store seed at home.
Fun Ideas for Basil Seeds
Other than planting, you can use basil seeds as a fun gift for friends and neighbors. Know someone who is getting married? Basil seeds in tiny sachets would make a delightful wedding favor!
Want to keep track of your seed inventory? Grab my FREE Printable Seed Inventory Tracker; I hope it helps you out!
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