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Grow This Basil – Five Recommended Basil Varieties

One of the most popular culinary herbs, basil, is an easy to grow fragrant herb that can easily elevate your kitchen game. As long as it has warmth, light, sun and water, basil is easy to grow from seed or plant. Growing your own basil will also save you time and money because you won’t need to do the dreaded last-minute-you-forgot-the-basil-run to-the-store. Instead you can harvest as much or as little as you need from your own plant.

plant in soil pot

From the classic Genovese to Spicy Bush, these are five varieties of basil that are easy to grow and will enhance the flavors of your meals.

Genovese

This is a classic basil that is most commonly grown and with reason… for its excellent flavor. Start with the Genovese variety if you’re new to growing basil. It’s shiny green leaves are versatile and can be added to any dish that needs flavor enhancement. Perfect for making traditional pesto or try it in a timeless caprese salad. It’s a kitchen staple!

Dark Opal

The uniqueness of this basil comes in its purple coloring. Steer away from the traditional green basil for a change. Dark opal is wonderfully aromatic and more savoury than sweet. It can be used on its own or even mixed in with a green variety to add depth. Make it stand out and feature it as garnish on top of homemade soup or add to white wine vinegar to make purple basil vinegar.

Mammoth

Commonly referred to as lettuce-leaf, this basil is a novelty because of the large size of its leaves. Keep the plant well pruned and it will grow to look like a little bush. The flavor is similar to Genovese basil but the sheer size of the leaves makes it satisfying to use in the kitchen. It can be a perfect addition chopped up into tomato sauce or keep the leaves intact and use a whole leaf on a tomato sandwich sprinkled with smoked salt and pepper. Or if you really love the flavor of basil, use the leaf as a wrapper with bocconcini cheese and fresh tomato.

Sweet Thai

This basil has a funky purple stem with small, hardy green leaves. Beautifully fragrant with strong anise flavoring, this basil is unique and a must-grow if you’re into culinary herbs. Makes for a delicious addition to Thai cuisine like green or red curries or Vietnamese pho style soups.

Spicy Bush

Spicy bush basil has very small leaves that grow into a little round topiary-like bush. It’s spicy yet sweet which makes for a fun change in the kitchen. Throw a handful of these basil leaves into olive oil or vinegar to enhance the flavor or use whole in salads to add a spicy kick.

basil close up

Best Growing Conditions for Basil

Basil is easy enough for anyone to grow, especially when grown in these optimal growing conditions:

  • Basil loves warm weather, so the summer is the best time to grow this herb.
  • Make sure you are growing it in a place where it is able to get full sunlight.
  • Remember to water your basil at least once a week.

If you plan to grow basil indoors, check out our guide to growing basil indoors for useful tips.

Growing Basil From Seed to Harvest

  • To start the growing process, sow the seeds 1cm deep into soil.
  • Within 5-10 days you should be able to see the seeds sprout
  • Once they reach a height of approximately 15cm you will know they have reached maturity and are ready to harvest.
  • Harvesting the basil will help prolong the life of this plant. If you end up with more basil then you can use, freeze the leaves to use in the winter.
  • Basil will taste the best just before you start to see the plant flower. Read more on basil’s flowering habits to learn how to delay the flowering process for more basil leaves or collect basil seeds to grow new plants.
tomatoes in bowl
pizza with basil

Basil is the perfect herb to add to any summer dish. Some of my favorite ways to use up my backyard basil is to make pesto sauce to either put on my pasta or on pizza, or to make caprese salad with some fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

There are so many different kinds of basil to choose from when deciding to plant this delicious herb. No matter which one you choose to plant, you can’t go wrong. Basil is very easy to plant and adding it to your cooking will make your food even better!

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