Any plant can be subjected to problems with pests and diseases and indeed the issues are going to vary depending on the species of plant and even its variety. That does mean that you need to be fully aware of the kinds of issues to look out for and the first signs that something is wrong so that you can then take the correct course of action to stop the problem from getting worse.
Basil is not immune to having various problems with pests and diseases and indeed there are a number of things that you should be aware of if you are serious about growing this particular herb. In actual fact, we are going to look at a total of 22 different problems that are relatively common and then provide you with five potential preventative tips.
Key Pests to Look Out for.
Aphids come in various forms but the most common is known as whitefly. If you see white spots on the leaves of the basil, then there is a pretty good chance that this is what is going to be the cause. The problem for you is that they love nothing more than to much on those luscious basil leaves so clearly you need to think about getting rid of them. Also look out for them in green.
Thrips are tiny insects with wings that attack a number of different species of plants including basil. They will eat away at the plants and they prefer to do this when the plant is dry so consider spraying the leaves to keep them moist as this can help solve the problem.
Slugs are an absolute pest in the garden and basil is not immune from their attack. They not only leave a slimy trail behind but they are also going to munch their way through the leaves in next to no time leaving nothing but destruction behind them. You might not see them as they come out at night but look out for that slime and you know what is causing the problem.
4. Flea Beetle.
The flea beetle is actually a small jumping beetle and they are going to be quite easy to spot in the garden as they are black and are of a size that you can spot them. You will know if they have been attacking your basil if you see holes in the middle of the leaves as that is where they tend to eat on them.
5. Japanese Beetle.
The Japanese beetle is very common around the world and you can spot it thanks to its copper colored body and green head. As with the flea beetle, they love nothing more than to feed on plants such as basil so, once again, look out for them eating away at the leaves.
A leafminer is described as the larvae of an insect that not only lives in the leaf of a plant but also eats away at it. They will produce either blotches where they have been living or tunnels all over the leaf so that is also very easy to spot.
Leafhoppers come in different sizes and colors and you will often see them on the underside of the leaves. They are going to remove some of the sap in various plants and they will also produce a mottling effect on the leaves so if you spot this, then you know how to tackle the issue.
8. Root Knot Nematode.
Root knot nematode is a parasite that attacks the roots of the plant so as this is under the soil it does make it difficult to spot that there is a problem early on. They will feed on the roots leading to them creating what looks like knots and this is clearly not going to be healthy for the plant.
Whitefly is a very common type of insect that you will find on the underside of the leaves where it is busy extracting the sap. As they feed on the cells of the leaves you will then see them turning yellow and becoming disfigured due to the damage that is being caused.
There are a number of different varieties of snails that can cause you problems, but they all just love to munch on the leaves and cause a huge amount of damage. Once again, as with slugs they are going to leave a trail and you will often find them hiding away during the day so look around the plant in order to remove them.
11. Soft-bodied Insects.
Soft-bodied insects includes the afore mentioned aphids and whitefly, but it also includes the spider mite which can also cause its fair share of problems. The main thing is that they can be rather destructive to both the leaves and the stem of the plant which is why you have to check everything.
Nematodes are also known as ringworms and even though they can be beneficial in some settings there is no doubt that they can also be a pest. They are quite good at targeting slugs but they are also going to make your basil turn yellow and wilt so clearly they have to be dealt with.
Major Diseases to Contend with.
Along with the pests that are listed above there are also a number of different diseases that you need to be aware of when it comes to you growing basil. These diseases can largely destroy the plant and can happen at various times in the growing process which is why you need to keep a close eye on things.
13. Fusarium Wilt.
Fusarium wilt is one of the most common diseases to affect basil. It is a fungal disease found in the soil and as the name suggests it is capable of wilting the basil and it will kill it off in a period of time. The leaves will turn yellow, the growth will be stunted and you should remove the plant immediately.
14. Bacterial leaf spot.
As the name suggests, this bacterial infection is going to leave spots on a leaf and it is a sign of mold. The infection will start as small yellow lesions that will then turn black or brown and it is certainly seen as being an extremely destructive disease and it has a tendency to stay on the lower and older leaves of the plant.
15. Downy Mildew.
Downy mildew is mainly spotted as forming white patches on the leaves of the plant and as you may have guessed it is a form of mildew that you then need to contend with. It is able to develop due to spore-forming hyphae that will go further into the plant than other forms of mildew that have a tendency to sit more on the surface.
16. Root Rot.
Root rot is often caused by poor drainage in the soil and as basil prefers dryer soil then you can begin to see how it is going to be quite susceptible to it. If you over water the plant and that moisture just sits there then it is only going to encourage this reaction as the soil is going to be far too heavy and waterlogged for the basil to survive.
17. Nitrogen Deficiency.
Nitrogen deficiency is a problem that can be easily rectified but it does have a profound impact on the health of the plant. You will often be able to identify it due to the poor growth displayed by the plant or the leaves are going to be yellow or a pale green as the plant is unable to produce enough chlorophyll to get to their normal color.
18. Cercospora Leaf Spot.
Cercospora leaf spot is a type of fungus that can attack basil. You will be able to notice spots of infection in the leaves and there are different forms of the fungus that can hit the plant. You may confuse it with black spot although the spots can be various colors and it does prefer to attack plants with a high moisture content on the leaves.
19. Leaf Spot.
Leaf spot is so common and there are various forms out there but the main thing is that it is a general term for a number of different species of fungus that is actually causing the problem. It can affect the leaves in different ways and, at the same time, it is going to lead to the destruction of the plant if it is not tackled immediately.
20. Gray Mold.
Gray mold is also known as Boytritis cinerea and its name is quite descriptive of what it does. The easiest way to spot this is to look for a gray fuzzy mold on the underside of the leaves as well as the stem. This is often more dense in nature to normal mildew and if it does reach the stem then the plant will generally die.
21. Damping Off.
Damping off generally happens at the start of the life of the plant and where it is germinating from seed. Often, you will find seedlings basically collapsing after the germination period and this is often due to there being too much humidity for them to deal with and poor air circulation so the roots are then affected leading to the death of the seedling.
22. Bacterial Wilt.
With this, we are talking about Ralstonia solanacearum is a soil borne disease that more often attacks tomatoes although basil is also susceptible to it. The bacteria gets into the roots and then attacks the main plant by filling the stem with slime. The plant will then wilt and die as a result and the bacteria can live in the soil for years so do not reuse it.
This does all sound as if there are so many things to take into consideration when it comes to pests and diseases that can have an impact on the health of your basil, but there are several things that you can do in order to reduce the chances of them being destroyed by any kind of infection or pest that may be in the area. Now, this is not going to be completely fail safe by any means, but it should make a difference with the way in which your plant is able to grow and develop.
1. Focus on the Soil.
The first tip is to focus on the soil because it has to be well drained and fertile. If you plant basil in the correct type of soil then you are going to be rewarded with a healthier plant and one that is going to be less likely to be affected by various diseases that specialize in affecting waterlogged soil.
2. Watch the Water.
The second tip is to watch how much water you put on the plant and also where you put it. Too much water is going to encourage so many diseases as well as pests that prefer moist plants, so avoid soaking the plant and keep a close eye on the watering aspect as a dryer plant is a less attractive proposition to most pests and diseases.
3. Harvest the Plant.
Another tip is to keep harvesting the plant because it means you are able to make full use of the plant and encourage new growth as a number of insects and diseases love old leaves.
4. Feed the Plant.
If a basil plant is lacking in nutrients, then this is going to weaken it and will ultimately increase the chances of there being various diseases that can then attack it. For this, you need to either feed the basil or change container with fresh potting mix that has the nutrients that the plant needs already included in it.
5. Avoid Planting too Early.
The final tip is to make sure that you do not plant the basil too early in its lifetime. If you place it outdoors and the temperatures are not quite right for it then this could potentially lead to all kinds of issues for you. Remember that basil does grow well indoors, so if you are unsure about things, then keep it indoors as much as possible.