I went on vacation and left a generous amount of water in my supermarket bought basil pot that I keep outside of the window. But it is very sunny in that spot as it's high up and facing South, and the last couple of days have been hot I think, so the water was far from enough.

Most of the leaves are yellow or brown and the plant looks very thin and dry. But there are also some very tiny green new leaves and the blossoms it had are still there.

the basil is very yellow

Is it worth trying to revive that thing or should I discard it? If I try to get it back up, how should I best go about it? I already added water yesterday night, but that disappeared completely, so I added more this morning.

  • Reading tag wikis on the mobile app is not fun. I tried to come up with reasonable ones but I'm not familiar with gardening.se past hot network questions. Please feel free to retag as appropriate. Thanks :-)
    – simbabque
    Jun 30, 2016 at 7:23
  • the 3 tallest plants are starting to flower so I'd remove the top 1/3 to above where some live leaves are. You don't want flowers. Jun 30, 2016 at 10:59
  • Ah, didn't fully read your answer Jun 30, 2016 at 23:00

4 Answers 4


"Worth it" is often personal taste. Of these plants (in those store-bought pots are many young plants, not one), the smaller ones with the large leaves on top will probably bounce back and grow a bit more.

The large ones with blooms possibly not really - those will focus on producing seeds, then die.

I have in the past seen those pots as "disposable". For an all-season growth it helps to take them apart in bigger or multiple pots so that the individual plants have more space. But at around 2€ per pot.... Also, those are in a pretty bad shape, and the dark stems near the soil could indicate some fungus, very likely from before the drying out incident.

If you really want ro revive it, you need to be constant with watering and start fertilizing, but not at the full dose as long as the plants are this weak. As I said, I'm not sure the blooming plants will bounce back, but if you snip the blooms, there is nothing left for photosynthesis.

For future pots, make sure to always harvest by pinching the tops, this significantly stretches the time until flowering - flowering means less leaf mass and often a change in taste. And pinching encourages branching out, giving you more leaf mass in total.

  • By pinching the top, do you mean remove part of the stem? I usually pinch off individual leafs.
    – simbabque
    Jun 30, 2016 at 7:51
  • Many do and wonder about long, bare stems. Yes, I recommend cutting the stem removing the uppermost pair or two of leaves. This encourages the buds in the leaf axles to leaf out and form new stems.
    – Stephie
    Jun 30, 2016 at 7:53
  • That makes sense. Thank you. Is it common here to wait with accepting to encourage multiple answers?
    – simbabque
    Jun 30, 2016 at 7:56
  • I think it's common everywhere on SE to wait? Sometimes (rarely) early accepts are appreciated by mods for potential controversial questions, to discourage more answers that could start flame wars, but that happens in places like Parenting SE, for obvious reasons.
    – Stephie
    Jun 30, 2016 at 7:59
  • 1
    Looking at that pot I'd cut the ones with extensive flowering off at the base, and concentrate on the ones with minimal flowers that can be removed (leaving leaves) or no flowers yet.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 30, 2016 at 17:16

Yes. It is very interesting to see a dry basilicum to improve within few minutes (so you see it in real time).

Basilicum is a plant who originates in dry places, so it will not die, and at first rain it will restore. I also don't remember changes in flavour.


Yes. That one still has green leaves so it still has chlorophyll to make energy from the sun.

If you are planning on travelling put an inch of water in that blue container and it will self-water for a while, depending on ambient temperatures. I normally try to find white containers for the water to lower the evaporation rate a bit. You can also cover the water container, and base of the plant, with a white towel to further conserve water, depending on how long you will be gone.

  • I'll try to find an ice cream brand that comes in a white or transparent box then... :)
    – simbabque
    Jul 7, 2016 at 15:55
  • I do believe that if you accept my answer then I have to do quality control on the ice cream itself. For science. :)
    – Bulrush
    Jul 7, 2016 at 15:59
  • I'm afraid it would be a rather long way from Michigan just to quality control a box of ice cream. Even if you control the whole box. Or bucket. :D
    – simbabque
    Jul 7, 2016 at 16:05

If it's got green, it might still make it. Basil's fairly hardy, so I'd wager all of those will survive.

If you're growing for leaves, pinch the blossoms off as soon as you can do so safely (without taking part of the stem with it).

Be careful of over-watering, because it won't be aspirating nearly as much. Go back to "if it's dry 1/2" down, flood it".

I think those will be just fine. They'll look a little weird, but who cares when you've got fresh Basil.

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