Basil is culinary herb essential in Italian and Thai cuisine and dates back to before the ancient Egyptians. It's perhaps most commonly known as the main ingredient in pesto. There are dozens of cultivars and species that include many different shapes, colors, and flavors of basil. Though most are annuals there several perennial basils that can be overwintered indoors.

Requirements: All basils require full sun & well draining, moist soil. Plant at least 18" apart. It is recommended to plant basil in a different location each year.

Care: Trim and harvest at least once a week by cutting stems down to 6-8" which will promote newer, bushier growth. Pinch off any flowers or buds immediately to preserve flavor in the leaves.

African Blue Basil

Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum

A sterile, perennial basil with striking foliage and flowers. It has a strong camphor flavor but still makes a tasty pesto long after the Italian basil has passed. Will grow year-round indoors if given sufficient light, fertilizer, and water.

'Mrihani' Licorice Basil

Ocimum basilicum cv.

Originally from Zanzibar, Mrihani has attractive, curly leaves and a strong licorice flavor. Tends to be slow-bolting. Annual.

'Persian' Basil

Ocimum basilicum cv.

Also known as Reyhan, makes a great addition to salads and rice dishes. Not recommended for pesto. Annual.

'Genovese' Sweet Basil

Ocimum basilicum cv.

The classic variety for traditionalists and makers of the most "authentic" pesto. Annual.

'Cameo' Sweet Basil

Ocimum basilicum cv.

A compact variety of Italian sweet basil bred specifically to excel in containers. Same great flavor in a compact package. Annual.

'Dark Opal' Sweet Basil

Ocimum basilicum cv.

Attractive purple leaves make this ideal for adding color to vinegars or salads. Similar flavor to Italian sweet basil but makes a very, very ugly pesto. Annual.

Thai Holy Basil

Ocimum tenuiflorum

Also known as Bai kaprao (krapow and/or kaprow) it is the signature ingredient in many Thai stir-fries. Flavor is peppery with notes of citrus. Annual.

Thai Sweet Basil

Ocimum basilicum 'Siam Queen'

'Siam Queen' is a named variety of Thai sweet basil (Bai Horapha) with long slender leaves and gorgeous purple flowers. It has an anise flavor that holds itself well under high heat and is essential in Thai curries and many other dishes. Annual.