Basil is one of the easiest and most-versatile herbs you can grow. This culinary, medicinal, and ornamental herb deserves a spot in every garden!
Maybe you want a windowsill of sweet basil for your grandma’s secret sauce recipe or a traditional Thai basil for your most-authentic curry. Perhaps you’re looking for an adaptogenic herb to add to your home apothecary or a striking filler for your cut-flower garden bouquets. Here are eight varieties to cover your needs.
Grow Basil: 8 Varieties
Classic like Audrey Hepburn, this traditional Italian basil is the gold standard for pesto. It’s the kind of basil an Italian grandmother throws in her fresh-tomato sauce. This basil boasts large, tender leaves with sweet, slightly spicy flavor. It’s particularly suited for the garden and field.
If you’re looking for a Genovese-type basil for container growing, look no further than Emily. Due to the shorter stem length between leaves, she is well-suited for growing in pots. This compact basil is also a longer-lasting cut, which makes it great for keeping.
Aromatto’s dark purple stems, green and plum bi-color leaves, and amethyst flower spikes make it an excellent bouquet filler. In fact, it was the tallest cut-flower basil in Johnny’s trials. Because of the pretty, spicy flowers, it’s also a lovely edible flower garnish.
As you may have guessed, this variety of basil has a unique cinnamon fragrance, which make for an unexpected twist in bouquets. This one came highly recommended by my pal, Mareah. Chocolate stems, violet veining, and lavender flowers certainly make it special.
5. Dark Opal
‘Dark Opal’ is the darkest variety of basil we grow with deep purple foliage and lavender flowers. Not only is this color a striking addition to dishes and floral arrangements, but it’s also a result of purple basil’s anthocyanin concentrations.
Anthocyanins protect against a myriad of human diseases, and purple basils are an abundant source of total and unique anthocyanins. In fact, one study by Purdue identified fourteen different anthocyanin pigments in basil, four of which were reported for the first time. ‘Dark Opal’ basil, specifically, has been shown to have one of the highest total extractable anthocyanin yields.
6. Mrs. Burns’ Lemon
‘Mrs. Burns’ Lemon’ is an ethereal basil with bright-green leaves and dainty white flowers. It’s intense citrus flavor and clean citrus scent make it a fabulous bouquet filler, tea, and addition to rice dishes.
7. Siam Queen Thai
Siam Queen Thai is thee best basil for curry or traditional, Asian dishes. Dark purple flowers are eye-catching against the slender green leaves. Spicy, anise-clove flavor that’s not quite like anything else. This basil’s hardier leaves stand up well to cooking.
8. Tulsi, Holy Basil
Tulsi is considered an adaptogenic tonic for the body, mind, and spirit. It’s one of the most highly-regarded herbs in the country, with more than 3,000 years of recorded medicinal use (Gladstar, p. 58)! Perhaps most noteworthy, in my opinion, is this calming herb’s anxiety- and stress-relieving properties. I love a combination of tulsi + rose for tea.
Do you grow these or any other basil varieties in your garden? I’d love to hear what you’re growing, and also how you’re using it.
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