Basil - varieties and culture

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is now the world's favorite culinary herb. Its use in America has increased more than 400-fold in the last 50 years. Thai, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish cultures also relish the pungent, minty flavor. In France, it is called herbe royale (royal herb) and in Germany, konigskraut (King's plant). In Italy, basil is regarded as a sign of love.

How to Grow: Basil MUST have warm conditions. For best results, sow or transplant when the night time temperatures stay above 50º F. Basil is very susceptable to cold and dies with the first frost. Heights listed are under ideal conditions. Pinch the tips off as the plants grow to ensure bushiness. Basil can be grown in a pot outdoors. Flea beetles can be controlled with a Neem oil spray.

Storage: Fresh-cut basil leaves will blacken in a normal refrigerator. Store fresh-cut leaves at 50º and it will last a week. Bunches can be stored upright in water as you would keep cut flowers. If you must rinse the leaves, do so quickly and pat dry, otherwise they will spot.


basil varieties

SWEET BASIL 2 feet high & wide
The most popular, with large, dark green leaves and a heady, spicy fragrance and taste.

HOLY BASIL 2 feet high & wide
The original from India. Purple flowers and a musky, fruity scent.

LEMON BASIL 12-18 inches high & wide
Strong lemon scent makes it great with fish and in vinegars.

LIME BASIL 12 inches high & wide
Smaller, pungent leaves. True lime essence. Excellent in fish dishes and salads.

THAI (SIAM QUEEN) BASIL 18-24 inches high & wide
Anise, clove scent. Popular in southeast Asian cuisine.

PURPLE BASIL 15 inches high x 18 inches wide
Very sweet, with the darkest leaves of the purple basils.

RED RUBIN BASIL 15 inches high x 18 inches wide
Largest leaves of the purple varieties. Sweet scent.

AFRICAN BLUE BASIL 3 feet high x 3 feet wide
Purple and green leaves. Can be used as an ornamental plant in hot locations.

AFRICAN CINNAMON BASIL 18-24 inches high & wide
Solid green leaves and distinct cinnamon aroma and flavor.