Common name – Sweet basil
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
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.
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
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.