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Q&A

How should I support a droopy basil seedling?

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Last year one of my CSA boxes contained a basil seedling in a 4" starter pot. I'd never grown herbs before, but I transplanted it to a pot, took care of it, and had a tasty bounty all summer. This year I ordered a couple seedlings from the same farm that had supplied the CSA.

They arrived two days ago, in smaller (2"? 3"?) plastic containers. With both of them, the stems couldn't support their own weight and were bent over, spilling out of the containers. I transplanted them into a larger pot, and since I've heard of people staking tomatoes, I stuck a couple supporters into the soil next to them and tied them loosely with twine. (I'm assuming I'll be able to remove those when the plants get a little stronger.) But I'm guessing here; I'm not an experienced gardener.

Is this a good approach, or am I harming the plants and I should just let them drape out of the pot and assume they'll grow strong enough to right themselves later? Or did the nursery send me sub-par seedlings and I should discuss it with them?

Here's a picture of my handiwork:

seedlings with supports

And for comparison, here is a picture of what they sent me last year at about this time:

previous self-supporting seedling

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You did well, staking is needed when basil plants are drooping. Once they get a little stronger and hardier they will stand on their own. Happy healthy basil is an upright bush. when too many plants are planted together they don't do that well, but they can recover and get healthy in a bigger pot, and keep them tied up to train to upright position.

You may consider moving your plant to even bigger pot once the plants get stronger. My single basil plant would usually take the whole 5 gal pot by the end of the summer, when I empty it after the frost, the whole pot is all roots. Basil will do OK for a while in smaller pot, but will really thrive in a large one. But don't transplant until it recover from the previous transplanting.

Good luck!

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