Ocimum basil

Height 30-45cm (12-18in)

Planting distance 30cm (1ft)

Flowers late summer

Any well-drained soil

Sunny and sheltered site

Half-hardy annual foliage plant

Better known for its culinary uses, sweet basil (Ocimum Basilicum) has given rise to several ornamental varieties which are popular in summer bedding schemes and as container and pot plants. The purple foliage provides strong colour contrasts and can also be used in cooking like its green-leaved relation.

The small pinkish-white or purple flower spikes borne on bushy plants are of little significance compared with the shiny purple leaves, almost black in the variety ‘Purpureum’ and wavy-edged in ‘Purple Ruffles’.


Sow seeds in pots or pans in the greenhouse in mid spring, at a temperature of 13°C (55°F). Prick the seedlings out into trays when large enough to handle and grow on at the same temperature. Harden the young plants off in a cold frame before planting them out in late spring when all danger of frost is past.

Basil thrives in light and well-drained garden soil and needs a sheltered site in full sun. Pinch out the flowers to encourage leaf growth.

Pests and diseases

Trouble free.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Ocimum basil


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