The history of basil (Ocimum basilicum) as a spice goes back to ancient Greece. The fragrant herb also plays an important role in the preparation of medicinal teas in the Indian teachings of Ayurveda. The plant comes from the tropical regions of Africa, Asia and North America. More than 60 different types of basil are known. We present 10 recommended varieties for the garden.

The variety of basil varieties

Anyone who knows a single type of basil has no idea of ​​the wide range of variations of this aromatic plant. The varieties of basil that are widespread in our regions differ primarily in terms of scent, taste, growth habit and the color of the leaves. Basil leaves are not always green. Red and even green and white patterned variants are available in specialist shops.

1. African shrub basil

Green leaves with purple veins, a designer couldn’t have done better! The colors of the African shrub basil, also known as blue mountain basil, are simply stunning. When this strain produces its soft purple flowers, it will become the focal point of your garden.

Location: sunny, protected from rain
Sowing: from May outdoors
Harvest: June to November
Growth habit: bushy, up to 80 centimeters high
Characteristics: violet-green leaves, soft violet flowers, very decorative
Care: water and fertilize regularly, water moderately in winter Lifespan
: perennial , not hardy
Taste: interesting aroma between vanilla and camphor, suitable for Mediterranean cuisine

Note: The African shrub basil is a real bee pasture.

2. British basil

The leaves of this strongly fragrant representative of the basil varieties are thicker than the well-known Genovese basil. It is considered to be particularly resilient.

Location: sunny to semi-shady
Sowing: April to June outdoors
Harvest: from July to December
Growth habit: up to 50 centimeters high, bushy
Characteristics: light green, stable leaves
Care: easy to care for, fast-growing
Lifespan: annual
Taste: strong floral aroma, not spicy

3. Fine-leaved basil

Fine-leaved basil is, as the name suggests, the finest among the basil species. It is characterized by small, delicate leaves and a dense, spherical growth.

Location: sunny, protected from rain
Sowing: from April outdoors
Harvest: March to September
Growth habit: spherical, compact, up to 30 centimeters high
Characteristics: green leaves, soft purple flowers, small-sized
Care: permeable soil required Lifespan
: perennial, not hardy
Taste: similar to Genovese basil, slightly milder, suitable for pesto

4. Genovese basil

One of the most popular and very robust types of basil is the Genovese basil. Italian pesto and caprese are hard to imagine in Italy without the Genoveser leaves.

Location: very sunny
Sowing: April to June
Harvest: from July
Growth habit: up to 50 centimeters high, bushy
Characteristics: green, large, strong leaves, white flowers, very sensitive to frost
Care: easy to care for, fast-growing
Lifespan: annual
Taste: spicy, very intensive, for salads, meat dishes and soups

By the way, not only the basil leaves, but also the flowers and seeds of the herb are edible. The flowers of the Ocimum basilicum are ideal for decorating dishes. Basil seeds are about to overtake the highly acclaimed chia seeds. They resemble these in shape and color and are at least as healthy and tasty. Basil seeds contain health-promoting vital substances and, like chia, can be used as a thickening agent.

5. Neapolitan basil

Large curly green leaves, the delicate scent of aniseed and a peppery taste are the characteristics of the Neapolitan basil. Neapolitan basil is also known as salad basil because of its large leaves.

Location: sunny, protected from rain
Sowing: May to July outdoors
Harvest: May to October
Growth habit: up to 50 centimeters high
Characteristics: large, lime-green leaves
Care: water regularly Lifespan
: one year
Taste: sweet and aromatic, suitable for pizza and pasta

6. Red basil

The red basil commercially available as Basilico Rosso is not only a scent and taste experience, but also a real feast for the eyes. The heat-loving spice plant impresses with dark purple, intensely fragrant, curled leaves.

Location: sunny to semi-shady
Sowing: April to June outdoors
Harvest: all year round
Growth habit: compact habit, up to 50 centimeters high
Characteristics: dark purple leaves
Care: water and fertilize regularly Lifespan
: perennial, not hardy
Taste: tasty, very aromatic

Note: Placing basil on the windowsill is a good idea. The aromatic scent of Ocimum basilicum keeps mosquitoes away from the home.

7. Russian shrub basil

The Russian shrub basil comes from the Black Sea. It is very robust and easy to care for. Its red stems are striking.

Location: sunny to semi-shady
Sowing: May to June outdoors
Harvest: all year round Growth habit: upright habit, up to 100 centimeters high
Characteristics: green leaves, red stems, white-pink flowers
Care: fertilize regularly, cut the tips from time to time
Lifespan: perennial , not hardy
Taste: tasty, intense, suitable for the production of basil oil

8. Thai-Basilica

Thai basil is an inseparable part of the meat dishes of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. The sweetish aroma of real Thai basil Bai Horapa is reminiscent of liquorice and aniseed.

Location: sunny, protected from rain and wind
Sowing: May to June outdoors
Harvest: June to November
Growth habit: upright, bushy, up to 80 centimeters high
Characteristics: green leaves, violet stems, pink-violet flowers
Care: cut regularly, avoid waterlogging
Lifespan : perennial, not hardy
Taste: sweetish, tastes of aniseed and liquorice

9. Zimtbasilikum

A special feature among the basil species is cinnamon basil. It enchants with its mild fragrance reminiscent of cinnamon. Cinnamon basil is exceptionally good for flavoring desserts.

Location: sunny, warm
Sowing: from May outdoors
Harvest: May to July
Growth habit: up to 30 centimeters high
Characteristics: dark green leaves, violet stems, red flowers, mild fragrance
Care: water regularly, avoid waterlogging
Lifespan: one year
Taste: sweet and aromatic , suitable for herbal teas, meat dishes and pizza

Tip: Basil needs continuous watering. If you cultivate basil in pots or tubs, be careful when watering that the leaves do not get wet. You are very sensitive.

10. Lemon basil

As the name suggests, this variant of Ocimum basilicum smells of lemons. Lemon basil is excellent for flavoring fish dishes. Lemon basil also gives desserts, ice cream and drinks a wonderfully fresh taste.

Location: sunny, warm, protected from rain and wind
Sowing: May to June outdoors
Harvest: June to November
Growth habit: bushy, up to 30 centimeters high
Characteristics: green leaves, light purple flowers
Care: only harvest the small leaves, water regularly, avoid waterlogging
Shelf life: one year
Taste: fruity-fresh, very tasty

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