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What is wrong with my Basil and Echinacea? β€” The Grow Network Community
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What is wrong with my Basil and Echinacea?

I'm having troubles with these two plants and hoping someone here can help me make them happier..

The basil was purchased from a local nursery almost 2 months ago and hasn't grown much at all since I re-potted it. Over the past couple weeks the lower leaves have started turning yellow too. I think I was over-watering at first.. so I cut back several weeks ago and only water when the top inch or two of soil is dry (it rained all day yesterday which is why they're wet in the photo. It was about time for a water anyways so I just let the rain do it.)

I've read a few things online trying to figure out what is wrong, and so far I'm thinking it could be calcium deficient?

I added a thin layer of good compost a couple weeks ago, but that didn't seem to help at all (at least not yet). Do you guys know of anything else I could do for the poor little thing?

The pot in the background there is my echinacea that I'm having troubles with too..

This is the first time I've tried growing echinacea in a pot.. When I grew them in-ground a while ago they took off and grew like crazy, but these guys just haven't hardly budged..

They were started from seed at about the same time I got the basil (~2 months ago). They were chewed on a bit at first and each of them lost their 2nd initial leaf to whatever was munching on them. πŸ˜• They also had a bit of powdery mold/mildew last month, but that has cleared up now. Would these issues stunt their growth so much? I water them about like it do the basil and probably over-watered at first too. What else am I doing wrong?

Thank you all in advance for any advice you can give!


  • greenleafgreenleaf Posts: 19 ✭✭

    My guess is not enough light. I'm not a very good container gardener, so I looked it up. Here is a quick reference: https://www.thespruce.com/reasons-for-yellow-leaves-on-houseplants-4150680

  • H_DH_D Posts: 384 ✭✭✭

    @Linzi looks like the end result from root rot or improper watering. especially if its a store bought plant. Do you see any white mildew or aphids around? another thing is temperatures..


  • LinziLinzi Posts: 123 admin

    @greenleaf and @Heather Duro Thank you both for the suggestions! Both pots had been placed where they were getting about 6 hours of sun, but I just moved them so they'll get 8-10 hours instead. Hopefully that'll help. I haven't seen any aphids on anything this year yet, but the echinacea did have little white spots of mildew last month for a couple weeks. It's cleared up now though and I never noticed any on the basil.

    These may wind up being chalked up as a couple more plants that I've killed with too much water (I don't have the best track record there.. you'd think I'd learn by now.. or at least just stick with tropical plants πŸ˜…), but I'm gonna keep trying with them and hope for recovery.

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 723 admin

    @Linzi, please let us know if they start doing better now that they're getting more light!

  • H_DH_D Posts: 384 ✭✭✭

    great point I totally missed. Those flowers are edible and tasty too..

    "Blooms on Basil So, if your basil plant has flowered, is this a good thing or a bad thing? If you are cultivating basil strictly for its leaves, it is best to remove the flowers. Pinching basil blooms back will allow all of the plant’s energy to stay focused on foliage production, creating a bushier plant with more leaves and maintaining higher levels of essential oils in the leaves. Leaving the flowers on basil plants tends to engender a straggly looking specimen with fewer leaves to harvest. That said, if you have also been remiss in pinching basil blooms, just snip them off and, as they are quite pretty, put them in a bud vase to enjoy on the window sill. Or, you can also sprinkle them on a salad or over pasta to enliven the dish because, yes, basil flowers are edible. They also make great tea! You can expect the blooms to taste similar to the leaves, but with a milder flavor. If, however, your intent when cultivating basil is for a big batch of pesto, you’ll want to pinch back the herb to encourage leaf growth. Pinch off the flower buds as soon as they emerge. Basil will usually need to be pruned every two to three weeks and it’s okay to go at it. The plant can tolerate a severe pruning which will, in fact, promote growth. Lastly, fertilize your basil sparingly, as it will actually decrease the fragrant essential oils, and harvest the leaves in the early morning when they are at their peak. Don’t overreact if the plant blossoms — just pinch back the blooms or, better yet, cut back half the foliage. Use both for dinner and the plant will double in size within a couple of weeks, healthier and bushier than before."

    Read more at Gardening Know How: Pinching Basil Blooms: Should Basil Be Allowed To Flower https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/basil/blooms-on-basil.htm

  • LinziLinzi Posts: 123 admin

    I thought the flowers were new leaves until I looked closer at them again too. I pinched those and the yellowing leaves off a few days ago. We then got a ton of rain, when I was out of town of course, so they were left out in it... Even still, they seem to be doing better in general, and have new sets of leaves coming in all over the place.

    The echinacea hasn't done much since moving it into more light. One of the 3 sprouts took a turn for the worse so I went ahead and pulled it. The other two seem a little happier, but no real growth yet.

    My equisetum and lemongrass keep growing like weeds, haha, they really help make me feel like I'm not a total failure! 🀣

    Thank you all for the guidance! I'll post an update in a bit on how they're doing. πŸ€—

  • LinziLinzi Posts: 123 admin

    @Lisa K Indeed! I don't take most of my failures too personally, what I learn in the process is what it's all about anyways. I still can't help but feel a little bad when I do something that causes another life to suffer.. yea.. even plant life.. haha, I'm just a little silly like that. πŸ˜‰

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 723 admin

    Agreed! I'm in the same boat. And I think because our growing season is so short here and I don't have a greenhouse yet, I feel like I have less room for error -- if I fail at something, it'll be another year until I can just start again! BUT, I still fail, and I'm trying to learn to approach gardening as an adventure and a fun experiment, like @Lisa K does.... I do admire that approach, even if it doesn't come naturally to me!

  • LinziLinzi Posts: 123 admin

    I'll get pics soon, but the basil is doing a good bit better! The echinacea is slowly coming along... Both of the remaining sprouts have a new leaf, but not the significant growth I was hoping for. I don't have too much hope for it, but now I know better for my next try.

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 723 admin

    Checking in on the plants, @Linzi! :) How's that echinacea doing?

  • LinziLinzi Posts: 123 admin

    @Merin Porter Well.. they were doing better.. and then I moved and their environment changed a good bit (even though I'm only about 20 miles from where I started right now). One echinacea grew another leaf, but the other dropped one, and they still haven't truly grown much at all. I think I started them too late, watered too much, and changed their lighting too many times for them to recover from. I'll try again next year with those if I'm in a good growing spot for them.

    The basil was looking better for a bit too, but also when I moved, they took a turn for the worse with more yellowing leaves and a stop in the growth that it had picked back up on.

    They're both still in their pots and in good spots right now, but I'll be moving about again in a month.. so probably no hope for them.. oh well..

    My lemongrass and equisetum hyemale are both still rocking though, so I've got those going for me at least! ;D

    I was afraid moving about wouldn't work so well with potted plants outdoors, and this is a mild move compared to where I will be going.. Instead of container gardening with soil, I'm researching methods I could use, mainly indoors, with hydroponics. The "Kratky" method has me super excited! I'm planning to test out some basil from seed with it soon, and currently brainstorming a crazy idea for a nutrient-film type for my kitchen windowsil. I'll certainly be posting those projects when I get to them!

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 723 admin

    Well, rats on the basil and echinacea, but three cheers for the lemongrass and EH! I'll admit that I'm always interested to learn what plants thrive for me (both in this area and with my gardening style) and what don't. Worth keeping a list of those, so you can know what to plant next year and what to avoid unless you're really going to be in a position to baby them (unless babying them is your gardening style ... it's not really mine!!! 🀣)

  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 723 admin

    Oh, and what's the Kratky method? I've never really looked into hydroponics....

  • LinziLinzi Posts: 123 admin
    edited July 2019

    @Merin Porter It's a super low-tech method, skipping all the pumps and airstones and any electric devices that most methods require. Basically, you start with whatever size, light proof container and fill it almost to the top with nutrient solution. Then seal it over with a tight lid that holds the plant and net pot in place. As the plant grows, it sucks up more water, which increases the access to moist air for the roots. The idea is to have a plant (like lettuce) matched to it's container so it gets to it's full, harvested size right as it runs out of water. But for things like Basil, or plants you want to keep growing longer, you then just have to make sure they always have a few inches of nutrient solution at the bottom.

    It's kinda like a more controlled way of growing things out in a jar on your windowsill. The downfall is that it's only really suited for leafy greens and herbs that don't need to flower. But hey, that's better than nothin', yea? πŸ˜„

    @Lisa K Good luck on your Lemongrass! It's one of my favorites! It just smells so lovely, and tastes even better. It's one of those I can grow well, haha. I'm about to have to repot mine already, and I think I'm going to give half of them away when I do.

  • pamelamackenziepamelamackenzie Posts: 143 ✭✭✭

    The Kratky" method sounds interesting. Keep us posted if you test out that method.

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @Linzi I am late to the game but have never grown Basil from anything before other than from seed. I first started growing Basil in the early 2000s and have grown various varieties too--all heirloom. When I first started growing food everything that I grew was in a container.

    The yellowing of the leaves that you had initially indicated when you first made this post and then re-updated later signals a deficiency in the soil. I have seen Calcium deficiency with tomatoes that friends and family have grown but cannot recall it happening with Basil. I would recommend to people who experience a Calcium (Ca) deficiency to do one of the following:

    1) Add crushed egg shells (it's a good source of Calcium).

    2) Add a little bit of Blackstrap Molasses (it's a good source of Calcium along with Iron and Potassium).

    3) Add some Organic Kelp Meal (it provides trace nutrients).

    You can definitely over water plants and water toxicity in plants (as well as humans) can occur if one gets too much water. I would water my Basil on an as needed basis and sometimes the water it received was from the rain.

    I have never grown Echinacea from seed in a pot but just looking at the photographs of your soil along with too much water (over saturation) the soil that you were using could have gotten compacted and this could lead to stunted growth. Air is an important component of soil that I think we often neglect or forget about.

    Typically if a plant starts to have a mold on it then it means that there is insufficient air circulation on the leaves and/or too much moisture. Sometimes when there would be a lot of rainfall I would move my containers so as to minimize the amount of rain that they receive (one of the benefits of growing in a container).

    And when planting in containers, it can be useful to poke a small stick, pencil, or your finger in the soil to help aerate the soil from time to time.

  • LinziLinzi Posts: 123 admin

    I certainly will! Life has hit a busy streak so a lot of my projects have been put on hold, but I'll definitely post have a DIY post going once I have time again to build it out. I'm excited and am actually going to try basil again (this time from seed) once I have it going.

    @Obiora E Thank you for the advice and guidance! I really appreciate it and will keep this bookmarked for when I try again. ☺️

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @Linzi You are very welcome and sounds good. If you have any other questions about container gardening feel free to reach out to me. I don't do much container gardening these days but did it for quite a few years and learned many good lessons.

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