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OCIMUM basilicum

Image of Ocimum basilicum

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Lamiaceae

Botanical Name

OCIMUM basilicum

Plant Common Name

Basil

General Description

For many, this is the perfect culinary herb with a thousand and one flavorful uses. Sweet basil is a bushy annual, or short-lived evergreen perennial, that originates from Eurasia and Africa. It has been broadly cultivated for centuries and boasts a wide array of cultivars of varying sizes, colors, textures and tastes. Anyone who has compared the sweet, aromatic flavor of large-leaved Italian basil to the sharp flavor of purple-leaved basil can tell you they are profoundly different. Some basil cultivars are also ornamental, such as the pretty and flavorful ‘Purple Ruffles.’

In summer basil produces spikes of lavender-pink or white flowers, but these are not a good sign for basil lovers. After flowering, plants put fewer resources towards foliage production and more towards flowers and seeds. This results in smaller, stronger, more acrid tasting leaves, so it is best to pick off buds as they appear to keep plants from blooming.

Satisfyingly easy to grow, basil requires full sun and fertile to average, well-drained soil. It is a veggie and herb garden must that also looks great in containers and mixed borders. The cunning cultivar 'Spicy Globe' has a neat round habit that is especially useful in ornamental gardens and border edges.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    11 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Herb

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    6"-28" / 15.2cm - 71.1cm

  • Width

    6"-24" / 15.2cm - 61.0cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    Europe, Middle Africa, Southern Africa, Southern Asia, Southeastern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Pink, Lavender

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Purple, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Bronze

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes