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I planted some basil seeds and grew them in aquarium water over the two months or so. They are placed in a rear window but I believe are getting adequate sun. However, the plant is quite leggy being about 8 inches tall and only a few leaves.

Does this indicate a deficiency of some sort, or just a lack of sunshine?

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Lack of sunlight. Basil needs a lot of light. If you are in the northern hemisphere at this time of year it likely that you will see some of the legginess you describe no matter where you put the plant. Other than the obvious solution of more light might be to simply have more plants. Basil tends to root pretty easily from cuttings. Cut down your leggy plant and put the cuttings in water. When they root, pot them up and give them as much light as you can. The plants will still be a bit sparse compared to what they would look like outside in the summer but you will have more of them so hopefully you will have enough leaves to harvest for your needs.

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I'm in the southern hemisphere, and the temperature is 30C now in the middle of our summer. Perhaps my south facing window doesn't get as much direct sunshine as I was thinking then. I'll see if I can successfully transplant some of them to soil outside. –  Graham Chiu Jan 31 '13 at 19:37
    
I often take cuttings from my basil plants (grown outside) in late august which is late summer for us. I root them in water and bring them inside for winter. They don't usually last the whole winter but I have fresh basil long after the plants outside have died. –  BRM Feb 1 '13 at 15:15
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Basil needs about 12 hours of sunlight and it sounds like your basil isnt getting this much sunlight. I grew basil from seeds last spring in my outdoor container garden and they grew great because of all of the sunlight. Some leaves scorching is much better than the plant suffering from deficiency.

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