We have all used the common sweet basil. Now its time to grow the other basil varieties.
Lemon (Ocimum citriodorum) or Lime basil
Lemon basil gives a great citrus zing to salads and stir fries. (annual)
Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum ssp.)
Plant the beautiful and delicious Thai basil year-round in frost-free zones. Its distinct ‘licorice’ flavour is delicious in Asian and Middle Eastern-style dishes. Unlike other basil, its flavour is not sensitive to cooking times. (annual)
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Sweet basil is most commonly seen in supermakets and available in seedlings at gardening outlets. Water frequently and harvest leaves regularly for best results. Unlike most herbs, basil’s flavour intensifies with cooking. (annual)
Boxwood basil (Ocimum basilicum)
This small fragrant basil bears resemblance to boxwood with its tiny leaves and compact habit. Ideal for smaller pots, ground covers or a very small border hedge. Regularly harvest leaves and pick out flower buds to maintain optimum bushy habit. (annual)
Holy basil, Tulsi or sacred basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Holy basil is one of the most powerful in medicinal properties, most commonly used in Asian religious ceremonies and enjoyed as a herbal tea for its clove, spicy and peppery flavour. Holy Basil will grow to a height of a metre and produce green and red leaves along with delicate purple flower bracts from mid summer on. Fits nicely in cottage style gardens. (perennial)
Purple Basil – ‘Dark Opal’ or ‘Purple Ruffles’
Deep purple leaves gives this basil variety a point of difference in a warm sunny garden or patio pot. Used for Asian and Italian salads for its clove-like, slightly spicy flavour.
Greek Basil (Ocimum obovatum)
Miniature leafed basil with more sweetness than the commonly larger sweet basil variety. Can be trained into a topiary. (perennial)
Perennial Basil (Ocimum gratissimum)
As the names suggests this basil is a perennial lasting longer than other basils, tolerating mild winters. It has smaller leaves than sweet basil, tall purple flower and with a clove like smell. (perennial)
How to grow basil
All basil love being planted in a full sun to part shade position in the warmer seasons. They are originally from tropical climates and will suffer badly if hit with frost. Plant basil after the last frost in your area. Basil grows quickly, loving the warm weather and generally dies before the arrival of winter. Plant in a richly composted mix like Searles Herb & Vegetable Specialty Mix, ideal for both planting in garden beds and pots. Regularly pinch out flower heads so it doesn’t bolt to seed and to prolong the life of the plant. Basil doesn’t have too many enemies. Protect young plants from snails.