Observation of leaf spectral profile (color) enables suitable management measures to be taken for crop production. An optical scanner was used: 1) to obtain an equation to determine the greenness of plant leaves and 2) to examine the power to discriminate among plants grown under different nutritional conditions. Sweet basil seedlings grown on vermiculite were supplemented with one-fifth-strength Hoagland solutions containing 0, 0.2, 1, 5, 20, and 50 mM NH4+. The 5 mM treatment resulted in the greatest leaf and shoot weights, indicating a quadratic growth response pattern to the NH4+ gradient. An equation involving b*, black and green to describe the greenness of leaves was provided by the spectral profiling of a color scale for rice leaves as the standard. The color scale values for the basil leaves subjected to 0.2 and 1 mM NH4+ treatments were 1.00 and 1.12, respectively. The other treatments resulted in significantly greater values of 2.25 to 2.42, again indicating a quadratic response pattern. Based on the spectral data set consisting of variables of red-green-blue and other color models and color scale values, in discriminant analysis, 81% of the plants were correctly classified into the six NH4+ treatment groups. Combining the spectral data set with the growth data set consisting of leaf and shoot weights, 92% of the plant samples were correctly classified whereas, using the growth data set, only 53% of plants were correctly classified. Therefore, the optical scanning of leaves and the use of spectral profiles helped plant diagnosis when biomass measurements were not effective.