I planted purple basil a couple of months ago; its true leaves were beginning to develop but a slug (I'm guessing) devoured all the leaves from the seedlings.

The stems are present so will it still be able to live and just regrow new leaves?

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  • 1
    You gotta send us a picture. Slugs possibly, rodents more of a possibility. Even cut worm a possibility. Where are these seedlings? Out of doors in the garden (where do you live?) or indoors? Good thing to figure out so we can help you get starts thriving for this season! If tiny baby plants lose their leaves they are probably a goner. They don't have any reserves to fall back upon. Haven't been around long enough to make enough food to store. And we humans do not make food for plants, grins! Pictures!!
    – stormy
    May 1, 2017 at 18:58
  • I added the picture, they all look exactly like that. I don't think they were rodents, I have never encountered one outside but it might've been a type of bug. They are outdoors in a biodegradable cardboard pot.
    – Les
    May 1, 2017 at 22:31
  • Hate to tell you, these basil plants are done. Don't see any slime trails. I think this is deer or rodents or rabbits. Tell me more about your garden, how are you starting your basil? In those little 'cardboard' pots? Excellent. There is a thing called 'row cloth' that allows light, water and air into the equation but keeps out adult insects and hopefully these mammals. These are most certainly eaten by mammals. I'd also use a cover of supported chicken wire. I'd also go out at night to investigate. Keep your starts indoors until you discover the culprit. They are invisible...to us.
    – stormy
    May 1, 2017 at 23:50
  • I live in a suburban area so I doubt deer and rabbits are the culprits behind this. I usually plant the seedlings into the cardboard boxes and then plant them into a bigger pot once they are big enough. I had two huge basil plants last spring but unfortunately it didn't not recover from the cold winter! Will the seedlings develop well in indirect light within inside? My home is a little on the dark side which is why I would leave the little pots outside.
    – Les
    May 2, 2017 at 2:52
  • Then rodents. Cutworms usually leave some leaf? Germinating seed is fine in warm dark environments. Getting starts going will need a decent grow light....fixture. 300watts there abouts? For a short while your south facing window sill might work. Basil is generally a tender annual and will never make it through any winter. Harvest those leaves, air dry and plop into zip locs. Need more info to see if this is something other than chomped by a mammal. But experiment later. Bring your plants in at night, get a grow light and tell us where it is you live. How did you grow those big basils
    – stormy
    May 2, 2017 at 5:06

2 Answers 2


I am in California as well and had a nice basil plant growing in a pot in my courtyard where rabbits or squirrels won't be able to get in. I encountered the same thing as you where one fine day the entire basil plant was eaten up. It was the work of rats because I saw some rat poop in the courtyard. Sorry but basil seems to be very popular among rats. Who would have thought!

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    The OP asked if the basil would regrow from a stem.
    – Niall C.
    Jul 12, 2017 at 2:44

That will not regrow unfortunately. A plant grows by cells in a/the meristem (growing tip) dividing. If the growing tip of the plant had been left on the stem, then it could continue to grow, but in your case I think this is extremely unlikely. On most mature plants there are multiple meristems, which are usually found as buds on the stem, often where the leaves branch off. (Incidentally, this is how pruning works - removing the main growing tip encourages others to become active).

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