Few herbs have reached the lofty peaks that basil has reached over the centuries. And the more people liked it and added it to their dishes and drinks, the more varieties appeared. It’s hard to imagine that the ancient Greeks and Romans used the same varieties that we use today. But one thing is certain, the influence that basil has had on many cultures, cuisines, and traditional medicine is indelible.
The herb is one of them easiest to grow. If you have an herb garden, basil is a wonderful addition to the other plants. The colors and scents of the leaves will transform the garden and add some pizzazz.
However, when growing basil is easy, choosing a variety of basil is far from being. For one thing, there are so many varieties of the herb that you won’t even know where to start. However, the following list will narrow it down. We have put together the most popular types of basil with the most important properties and benefits of each.
African Blue Basil
Although most basil varieties are annual outside of zones 10 and 11, some are hardy to cooler zones and grow as perennials. The African blue basil (Ocimum gratissimum) is one such species that makes a good hedge shrub. In addition to its aromatic leaves, the plant also has some decorative values. The large leaves are pale green with purple blocks to the base of the leaf.
Although this basil is native to Africa, it is also found in the tropical regions of Asia. The fully grown shrub grows to about 6 feet, which sets it apart from the other basil varieties. It takes high humidity and warm weather to grow and thrive. If you have cold winters or frosts, you cannot grow this basil outdoors.
African blue basil is grown commercially these days for its oil which is good at repelling insects. It is also used in many traditional medicinal preparations and mixtures to treat fever, headache, parasites, colds, and other illnesses.
Magical Michael Basil
There’s nothing about this variety of basil that with . has basketball or its beginnings to do, but it has a winning appearance that wins hearts and minds. With a pronounced bush-like habit, this is more of an ornamental basil than anything else. You can still use the leaves in drinks and recipes, but they don’t have the same strong flavors as other varieties.
The leaves here are a deep green with no blemishes. They are small and have pointed ends. Small white or purple flowers appear in late spring, attracting pollinators. It grows annual in most zones and reaches a height of about 16 inches. If you live in a cold zone with a short growing season, you can easily grow it as a potted plant and keep it indoors until the weather warms up.
If you are growing her outdoors, choose a sunny spot where she can get around 8 hours of sun during her short lifespan. Use grow lights indoors and leave them on for at least 12 hours each day.
Minette Dwarf Basil
As the name suggests, this basil grows close to the ground and does not take up much space. Not only that, with Minette dwarf basil, the plant won’t become leggy or overgrown either. It remains compact with lush green foliage that grows in small knots over the herb garden.
On average, the ripe dwarf basil becomes about 25 cm high. But despite its small size, it still exudes a strong scent. In fact, its smell is the first thing you’ll notice before your eyes finally fall on its tiny green leaves. And that strong smell makes it a great companion for other vegetables like tomatoes.
Summer is the time when the flowers appear. The small white flowers cover the entire area of the green foliage and attract pollinators such as bees and monarch butterflies. However, flowering means the end for the delicate and aromatic leaves. So if you want to keep harvesting delicious leaves, core the buds to prevent the plant from sowing.
With Lemon Basil you get a plant with two flavors.A two-in-one plant sounds like a win-win situation, especially if you use both plants in cooking.
It grows as an annual in warm areas because it does not tolerate much cold. However, you can start doing this indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost. Plant the seeds in a bowl and in two weeks they will germinate, and while you wait for the weather to get better, prepare the small pot for each seedling. Fill it with citrus potting mix and when the seedlings have 4 sets of real leaves, transplant each into their own pot.
The lemon basil plant needs an average watering and you should be the top 2 inches of the Let the soil dry out before you water it. The only pests to worry about are snails. Pick them up and drown them in a bucket of soapy water.
Salad Leaf Basil
The name here is self-explanatory. This is a variety of basil with extra large leaves. Native to Japan, the leaves of this basil don’t really get as big as lettuce leaves. But it’s still too big for the average basil. We are talking about 5 inch leaves with abundant fragrance and flavor.
Another benefit of this basil is that it doesn’t go away as quickly as other varieties. Even if the weather warms up quickly, the plant will continue to produce succulent leaves and the flowers will appear in early to midsummer. This gives you enough time to harvest as many edible leaves as you like and store them in the freezer if necessary.
The strong scent of the plant proves to be a good deterrent for many insects. So growing lettuce leaf basil as a companion plant to vegetables is a great way to ward off beetles.
Fino Verde Basil
With Fino Verde Basil we return to the small-leaved varieties. However, this variety is actually smaller than most types of basil, making up for its small size with a strong scent and very tangy taste. This makes it ideal for making pesto and other hearty sauces.
With its small size, you should grow it in a container. It only takes a small pot and in many cases only grows to about 15 cm. It grows as a perennial in warm zones from 9 to 11. Below it, it only survives in spring and summer and dies in autumn.
As with most types of basil, it needs a lot of sun. This tropical plant needs at least 8 hours of sunlight a day during the growing season. You can place it on a window sill facing west or south to get the most out of the spring and summer sun.
If you’re wondering where the name Pistou comes from and how did it come from that it sounds so close to pesto because it’s French. Named after a French dish, this basil gives the dish its aromas and distinct taste. This is also a small variety with a compact size and small green leaves. But as we know, that small size usually means an abundance of flavors and fragrances.
To grow Pistou Basil you need to be in Zones 9-11. Otherwise, grow it as a potted plant and keep it indoors with grow lights and heating mats under the container. It needs a well-drained soil and lots of nutrients. In a saucepan, you can use liquid fertilizer and dilute it to half strength. If you’re growing it outdoors, you can use organic compost, aged manure, or other homemade fertilizers as the smell wouldn’t bother you.
Harvest time begins when the plant is about 6 inches tall. This gives you a long harvest season that can last until mid-summer when the flowers appear. To keep the leaves fresh for a long time, you can freeze them. Otherwise, add them to sauces and marinades and keep the jars in the refrigerator.
Nufar Basil is sweet and strong and comes from Genoa, Italy. The variety has been a secret for generations and many of the sauces from Genoa owe their popularity to this basil. But as we all know, no plant can be kept secret for long. And soon it grew all over the world. Gardeners have adopted it because of its strong taste and small compact size.
On average, the plant can grow to be about a foot, although in some cases it would reach 36 inches.Tomato sauce, tomato salad and of course pesto.
It takes a lot of sunlight and warm weather. The soil must be loamy and well-drained. If you’re growing it in the garden, keep the plants about 14 inches apart and protect them from the cool winds. As for the water, it needs to be poured shallow but regularly. Keep the soil moist throughout spring and summer.
Another type of basil closely related to sweet basil. Holy basil is a woody perennial herb that grows well in zones above 9. The name comes from its use in rituals in temples in Asia. But it has many other uses as well, especially in cooking and medicine. It is added to chicken, fish, sweet and sour sauce, and marinades.
In many traditional Asian medicines, holy basil is used to relieve abdominal pain, Treat indigestion, cough, gout, nasal congestion, inflammation, and other illnesses. To grow it in your yard, change the soil to make it light and add lots of organic material. It prefers moist soil in spring and summer, but you can forego watering and feeding in autumn and winter.
Blue Spice Basil
They know you can look forward to a heady variety of basil when it’s called Blue Spice Basil. But that’s not just a name. It is an accurate description of the main distinguishing features of this strain. The green leaves of the plant make you wonder where the name comes from. But then, in the middle of summer, tiny flowers splash purple all over the place. Their colors are deep and vivid. In the meantime you have harvested a lot of edible leaves and tried them in your dishes. So you know where the “spice” in the name comes from.
It has a strong and tangy taste that will make your tongue sting for a while. And since the flowers herald the end of the harvest season, you should start harvesting the leaves as soon as the basil is 8 inches tall.