Get to Know Basil

My Garden Life
July 15, 2019
Table of Contents

Basil is a mainstay of everyone’s herb and spice rack. Its sweet flavor can be found in just about any type of recipe; from soups, sauces and salads to all types of meat, fish and poultry. It’s recently become a popular addition to herbal teas and infusions due to its many nutritional and health benefits.

Types of Basil

As the uses for basil continue to evolve, so has the plant itself. Plant hybridizers have created basil varieties with bigger leaves for bigger harvests, smaller leaves and more compact plant habits for growing in small-space gardens and containers, and a beautiful assortment of varieties with purple-toned foliage to add a dash of color and a fresh twist to your favorite recipes.

Caring for Basil

Basils are easy-care annual plants. Give them a sunny situation planted in light, well-drained soil. Water regularly and you’ll be rewarded with a long season of flavorful foliage. Harvest the leaves as needed but take care not to remove more than a third of the entire plant at any one time. The best time to harvest basil is in the morning when the plant’s aromatic oils are at their peak. Snip basil sprigs just above a pair of leaves (this is where new buds will emerge to replace the foliage you are removing).

Removing Flowers

Like all plants that are grown mainly for their foliage, flower stalks should be removed as early as possible. With the exception of a few varieties that have showy flowers, it’s best not to let your basil plant flower. Flowering takes a lot of energy from the plant and can reduce the flavor of the leaves. Just pinch off any flower buds as they appear. Basil flower stalks can be used fresh in beverages or infused in oil or vinegar. Dried flowers are perfect for use in potpourri and sachets.

Popular Basil Varieties

Here are some of the many popular basil varieties you’ll want to try. Click on each one to learn more:

African Blue Basil Ocimum basilicum 'Amethyst' - Basil Ocimum basilicum 'Aristotle' basil Ocimum basilicum 'Boxwood'
African Blue Basil ‘Amethyst’ ‘Aristotle’ ‘Boxwood’
Ocimum basilicum 'Cardinal' - Basil Ocimum basilicum 'Cinnamon' basil Ocimum basilicum Cuban basil Ocimum basilicum Dark Opal basil
‘Cardinal’ ‘Cinnamon’ ‘Cuban’ ‘Dark Opal’
Ocimum basilicum Dolce Fresca basil Ocimum basilicum Dwarf Bush Basil Ocimum basilicum 'Floral Spires' Ocimum basilicum 'Genovese' basil
‘Dolce Fresca’ Dwarf Bush Basil ‘Floral Spires’ ‘Genovese’
Ocimum basilicum 'Genovese Emily' Ocimum basilicum - Greek columnar basil Ocimum basilicum Greek basil Ocimum tenuiflorum Holy basil
‘Genovese Emily’ ‘Greek Columnar Basil’ Greek Holy Basil
Ocimum basilicum 'Italian Large Leaf' basil Ocimum basilicum citriodorum Lemon basil Ocimum basililcum 'Lettuce Leaf' basil Ocimum americanum Lime basil
‘Italian Large-Leaf’ ‘Lemon’ ‘Lettuce Leaf’ ‘Lime’
Ocimum basilicum 'Long Foot' basil tree Ocimum basilicum 'Magical Michael' basil Ocimum basilicum crispum 'Monstruoso' basil Ocimum basilicum 'Mrs. Burns' Lemon basil
‘Long Foot’ Basil Tree ‘Magical Michael’ ‘Monstruoso’ ‘Mrs. Burns’ Lemon Basil
Ocimum basilicum 'Napoletano' basil Ocimum basilicum Osmin Purple basil Ocimum basilicum 'Persian' basil Ocimum basilicum crispum 'Pesto Perpetuo' basil
‘Napoletano’ ‘Osmin Purple’ ‘Persian’ ‘Pesto Perpetuo’
Ocimum basilicum 'Pistou' basil Ocimum basilicum 'Puck' basil Ocimum basilicum 'Purple Bush' basil Ocimum basilicum 'Purple Ruffles'
‘Pistou’ ‘Puck’ ‘Purple Bush’ Dwarf Basil ‘Purple Ruffles’
Ocimum basilicum 'Queen of Sheba' Ocimum basilicum 'Red Rubin' Ocimum basilicum 'Siam Queen' basil Ocimum basilicum - 'Spicy Globe' basil
‘Queen of Sheba’ ‘Red Rubin’ ‘Siam Queen’ ‘Spicy Globe’
Ocimum basilicum 'Super Sweet Genovese' basil Ocimum basilicum Sweet basil Ocimum basilicum 'Sweet Aroma' basil Ocimum basilicum Sweet bush basil
‘Super Sweet Genovese’ Sweet Basil ‘Sweet Aroma’ Sweet Bush Basil
Ocimum basilicum 'Sweet Dani' lemon basil Ocimum basilicum 'Sweet Genovese Compact' basil Ocimum basilicum 'Sweet Nufar' basil Ocimum basilicum 'Sweet Thai' basil
‘Sweet Dani’Lemon Basil ‘Sweet Genovese Compact’ ‘Sweet Nufar’ ‘Sweet Thai’

We’ve got a lot more great information on herbs and how to grow and use them. To view click here.

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