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When you think of basil, you usually just think of the green leaf that you might buy from the store. Or maybe you think about the very typical-looking basil plants that they sell in the spring and summer. But did you know that there are different types of basil plants that you can grow in the garden?
- Why Grow Different Basil Varieties?
- Can You Grow Different Types of Basil Together?
- Different Types of Basil Plants
- Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Different Types of Basil
Basil is one of the most popular herbs that people grow either in the garden or on a windowsill in the kitchen.
It is most commonly used in cooking, especially in Italian dishes. But it also has other uses, such as an aid in digestion. And in my own house, it is used as a type of potpourri since the scent of fresh basil is loved by others in the house so much.
And in the garden basil can be used as a companion plant for other crops or it can also be used to help attract pollinators.
There are quite a few different varieties of basil plants, and they even come in different colors.
You can grow basil plants both indoors and outdoors. And you can grow them directly in your garden or in containers.
Why Grow Different Basil Varieties?
First and foremost, growing different basil types means you have different flavors.
Sweet basil is what is often used in many recipes.
But then you have Thai basil which will add a licorice flavor to dishes.
Lemon basil will add a hint of citrus flavors and is useful for homemade marinades or teas.
As you can see basil can be useful in many types of recipes, but it depends on the individual type of basil as to what flavor it will be adding to that dish.
Another reason to grow different basil plants is that the foliage can be stunning. Purple colored basil plants are beautiful in a garden.
Can You Grow Different Types of Basil Together?
It depends. While you can plant different types of basil together, what you are planning to do as far as the seeds of your plants go will determine if you should plant them together.
When you plant various varieties of basil in close proximity to each other you run the chance of cross-pollination. And the area where cross-pollination can happen is quite large: up to 300 yards.
If you are planning on keeping seeds from your basil plants it is best to only plant one kind of basil plant at a time.
But if you don’t have any plans to keep the seeds then you can go ahead and plant as many types as you would like.
Different Types of Basil Plants
This is one of the most common types of basil plants you will see both in herb gardens and at the grocery store.
Sweet basil is native to southern Asia and islands of the South Pacific.
It is commonly used in pesto, Italian dishes, marinades, and salads.
Genovese basil is another one of the more popular basil plants that are grown in gardens. It can grow 3 to 4 feet tall.
It is also a cultivar of Sweet basil and a native plant to India, Africa, and Asia.
They have darker green and flatter leaves than sweet basil. This basil has a stronger flavor than sweet basil and is also popular to use in Italian recipes and pestos.
It is my personal favorite type of basil for Caprese salads. Paired with homegrown tomatoes, the flavor is amazing.
Lemon basil is commonly used in salads and is known for its citrus flavors.
It is also commonly used in iced teas as a flavor enhancer.
Lime basil also has a citrus flavor and is often used in poultry and fish dishes along with stir fry recipes.
The plant itself looks like Lemon basil. But the citrus flavor that the leaves have is more like lime instead of a lemon.
Thai basil is another botanic of sweet basil.
It also is called Licorice basil or Anise basil due to the licorice flavor that the leaves have.
The Thai basil plant grows between 1 and 1.5 feet in height and has long purple stems with light green leaves and purple flowers.
Thai Lemon Basil
This is a hybrid basil that comes from both lemon basil and Thai basil.
It is used most often in South and Southeast Asian dishes.
Cinnamon basil, also called Mexican basil, is named after the flavor of the herb.
It has a spicy flavor and aroma due to the chemical in the leaves that is the same chemical that is found in cinnamon.
Dark Opal Purple Basil
Dark Opal basil was bred in the 1950s at the University of Connecticut.
This type of basil is commonly grown as an ornamental piece but does have some uses for its flavor.
Purple Ruffles Basil
Like the name, this basil plant has purple leaves that are “ruffled”.
This type of basil is most often used in salads or as a garnish. It can also be used in pesto to give a unique color.
Pesto Perpetuo Basil
This is a basil plant that was discovered in 2004 and has variegated leaves.
Unlike many of the other basil plants, it does not get flower spikes.
Pesto Perpetuo can grow up to 2 feet tall and about 1.5 feet wide.
Serata Basil is another type that is great to use for pestos.
This basil plant grows to about 2 feet tall and has green ruffled leaves.
Camphor basil is a bigger basil plant that has camphor scented leaves.
This basil plant can grow up to 5 feet tall.
Its leaves are commonly used in satchels to help protect fabrics.
This is also a common type of basil that is used in teas for stomach aches.
Clove basil is sometimes also called African basil or Tree basil.
Its leaves are fuzzy, lime-green, and have a pennyroyal like scent to them.
This is another type of basil that is also used in teas. It is most commonly used for fevers and colds.
Burning the leaves of clove basil can help repel mosquitos.
This basil grows in a shrub-like fashion and will get about 2 feet tall.
Holy basil is also called Sacred basil or Tulsi basil.
It is used in both recipe dishes and in medicines.
In Hindu mythology Holy basil symbolizes the goddess Lakshmi.
Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Different Types of Basil
Yes, you can plant sweet basil and that basil together. Planting these next to each other will not affect the flavor of the basil leaves.
Different types of basil can cross pollinate when planted next to each other. Although basil plants have both male and female parts, insects can cause cross-pollination to happen as they travel from one basil plant to the next.
The best type of basil to grow is the one that is going to fit your individual needs. If you are using basil for recipe dishes then you will want to select the type that is used the most for that dish. If you are using them for ornamental purposes then you will want to select one based on the size and look you need to fit your garden or flowerbed.
Sweet basil is the most popular basil. Thai basil and Genovese are usually the other two most popular basil plants that people grow in the home and in the garden.
- Genovese Basil Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese’, Superbherbs.net
- The Many Uses and Types of Basil, University of Vermont
- Basil Factsheet, Clemson.edu
- Ocimum × citriodorum ‘Pesto Perpetuo’, MissouriBotanicalGarden.org