Sweet Basil

Common Name – Sweet Basil

Plant Identification

Genus: Ocimum
Family: Lamiaceae (mints)
Species: O. basilicum
Plant type: herb, medicinal plant
Variety: there are many varieties
Note: There are over 160 named cultivars available, i.e. Thai basil, Lemon basil, Holy basil, etc

Plant Images


Sweet Basil

Baby basil

Basil tray

Plant Descriptions

Fruit / flower: small delicate flower on a cob-like stalk
Colour: white flowers
Flowering time: as plant matures, avoid the plant flowering
Flower size: small and delicate,  flowers are insignificant, but very popular with bees.
Fragrance: aromatic leaves and sweet aroma
Height: up to 50cm
Width: 30cm to 50 cm
Foliage description: The extremely aromatic leaves also have a delightful variety of flavors from the slightly lemony mint of ‘Sweet Basil’ to cinnamon, and licorice.
Foliage colour: Leaf color spans from rich green to deep purple, with smooth or crinkled leaves.

Plant Requirements

Light preference: full sun and if indoors then in strong sunlight
Watering: well watered but not soggy
Temperature: best in warm to hot, sensitive to cold and wilts in frost
Soil requirements: well drained and fertile
Fertilisation: organic fertilizer recommended in growing season, mulch well in cold temperatures
Pruning: nip the leaves and flowers to promote growth, the more you pick the bushier it gets

Other Information

Insects: aphids – bad, bees- good
Diseases: Fusanium Wilt (fungus), Pythium damping off, gray mold, black spot
Propogation: from seed and cutting
Other notes: Basil is widely used as a culinary herb. Best in Italian dishes, i.e., pastas. Basil also has medicinal purposes. The oil of the basil plant offers health benefits – as an anti-oxidant, anti-viral, and anti-microbial. It is used to treat inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.

In the garden as a companion plant to tomatoes, it assists in the growth and flavour of the tomatoes. It also may help to keep the nasty insects away.

About the author: Barbara

Country living is the best! Being a true spirit of the earth, my garden is all about vegetables and fruit trees and herbs and chickens roaming free. I was keen to really start gardening when we moved to Philadelphia in 2005, but not your typical suburban-type garden – sterile and bug-free! I wanted an edible garden.

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