Basil Winter Care: How to Care for Basil Plants in Cold Weather

We all love growing basil during the summer, but what do you do when the weather starts to turn cold? It’s important to know how to overwinter basil plants so they’ll be ready to go again when the warmer weather returns.

Will Basil Survive Cold Weather?

Basil is a warm-weather herb that doesn’t tolerate cold weather well. If you live in an area with cold winters, you’ll need to take some steps to overwinter your basil plants so they don’t die when the temperature drops.

The good news is that basil can survive the winter if they’re protected from the cold and receive enough sunlight. This is why so many people bring their basil plants indoors when the weather gets chilly.

Basil Winter Care

If you would like your basil to survive the winter, there are a few things you need to do:

Use a large pot

The roots of a basil plant are vulnerable to the cold, so it’s important to use a pot that’s large enough to insulate the roots. A good rule of thumb is to use a pot that’s at least 12 inches wide to give the roots plenty of room to grow.

Apply mulch to the soil

Mulching your basil plants will help protect them from the cold weather. You can use any type of mulch, but straw or pine needles work well. Apply a layer of mulch that’s at least two inches thick to insulate the roots and keep them warm.

Artificial lights

Basil plants thrive in sunny conditions, so you’ll need to provide them with artificial light if you’re keeping them indoors during the winter. Place your basil plants near a south-facing window or use grow lights to make sure they get enough light.

I use artificial lights on most of my plants and they do just fine. I have a few grow lights that I use when it starts to get dark earlier in the day here in the UK. 12 hours of light is what they need so I just make sure to turn the lights on around lunchtime and off before bed.

Tarp protection

When keeping basil outside, you can use a tarp to create a makeshift greenhouse. Place the tarp over the plants and secure it with stakes to keep it in place. This will help protect the plants from the cold wind and frost.

This can be done in the autumn months to protect your plants from the first frosts. I like to do this with a lot of my outdoor plants just to give them an extra layer of protection.

Basil Cold Tolerance

Drops in temperature can damage the leaves of a basil plant, so it’s important to monitor the forecast and bring the plants indoors if a cold snap is expected. Basil plants can tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but they won’t survive if the temperature drops below freezing.

Basil may not die in temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but the leaves will start to turn brown and the plant will go into dormancy. If you want your basil plants to continue growing, it’s best to bring them indoors or put them in a greenhouse when the temperature starts to drop.

How to Treat Frost Damage on Basil?

Frost damage on a basil plant will look like the leaves are wilted and discolored. If the plant is only lightly frosted, then it will probably recover on its own once the weather warms up. However, if the frost damage is severe, then the plant will likely die.

If you see any frost damage on your basil plants, you should immediately move them indoors or cover them with a tarp. Trimming off the damaged leaves will also help the plant focus on new growth.


In conclusion, frost is the number one enemy of basil plants. They will not survive if exposed to prolonged cold weather conditions. However, by taking some precautions, you can overwinter your basil plants and enjoy fresh herbs all year round.

Just remember to use a large pot, apply mulch to the soil, provide artificial lights, and add a tarp if necessary. Bringing the herbs inside is usually the best option to protect them from the cold. And if you do see some frost damage, don’t panic! Just trim off the affected leaves and hope for the best.

With a little luck, your basil plant will make it through the winter unscathed. Thanks for reading!

I hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions or tips of your own, please leave a comment below.