Sweet BasilBasil is an annual plant. It will grow, set seed and die all within one growing season. For this reason it is best to keep the flower heads pinched back. Once the flowers set the leaves will become bitter.

The word Basil comes from the Greek meaning “King.” It’s Latin name is Ocimum Basilisicum .  Ocimum is said to mean “to be fragrant,” while Basilisicum  is from the Latin for Basilisk. But, no matter what you call it, Basil is a regal plant rich in history and folklore.

Soil – Basil is best planted in a coarse-textured growing mix. Basil thrives in a soil that drains well and hates standing in water.

Container – Clay pots have a tendency to allow the planting medium to dry out too quickly. It is best to plant Basil in a container such as glass or plastic. Be sure the roots have plenty of drainage.

Light Requirements – Basil requires at east 6 hours of good direct sunlight. A south facing window is best.

Starting by Seed or Nursery Plant – Basil is an easy to grow plant whether starting from seed or from a nursery plant.

When starting any plant from seed it is a good idea not to plant the seeds too deeply. Covering seeds with their own thickness of soil is usually adequate. Use a mister to ensure that the planting medium is moist and loosely cover the pot with plastic wrap till you see the seedlings emerge. You probably won’t have to mist before that happens, but do check daily to be sure. Basil likes to be kept uniformly moist. Be careful not to drown the seedlings once they come up.

Watering – Water regularly, but not excessively. Let the soil dry slightly between watering. A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger in the pot. The soil should be about 1/2- 1 inch dry before watering.

Care – Feed monthly spring through fall with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half. Be sure to use an organic fertilizer if you are going to be eating the leaves.

Varieties – Basil come is many varieties, some really quite beautiful. The following are but a few:


Sweet Basil – Classic, used in pesto, sauces, salads.







Purple Ruffles Basil Ruffled, large and frilly purple leaves. Beautiful and fragrant. Stronger flavor than Sweet Basil but milder flavor than Green Ruffles. Adds color and flavor to herb vinegars.

Basil but milder flavor than Green Ruffles. Adds color and flavor to herb vinegars.




Thai Basil More tender and more intensely flavored than Sweet Basil. Thai basil seeds are highly aromatic with a licorice-basil aroma. Great in both Thai and Italian recipes. Wonderful container plant. Late flowering. Height 24″.

To find more varieties just type Basil Varieties into a Google search.

The first recorded mention of basil, in records dated to pre-206 B.C.E, states that it “exists only to drive men insane.” For the Greeks, and later the Romans, basil was associated with hatred. To grow, it had to be sown with swearing and ranting. However, basil later became a symbol of love in Italy, to the point that Giovanni Boccaccio used it to symbolize the tragic love between Lisabetta and Lorenzo in The Decameron. Sicilian folklore associates it with both love and death, and in Moldavian folklore a young man who accepts basil from a young woman will fall in love with her…
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