Approximately 150 species and many cultivars, small tender shrubs, herbs and annuals, some are more woody and persistent than others.
A small shrub for foliage effects, on a border, in a tub, among other shrubs, as a hedge or topiary.
Harvest leaves and use fresh or dried for flavouring food.
Grows well in most soil types, if kept moist. Avoid frost. Full sun or filtered sunlight, avoid heavy shade.
Often treated as an annual or biennial; although some cultivars have great potential as a semi permanent shrub; lasting 6 to 10 years or more if cared for.
Prune as required to shape. A hedge may need pruning every 3-4 weeks when growing (through all but winter in mild temperate or sub tropical areas).
Water during dry periods. Maintain a thick mulch over roots. Fertilising annually is useful but not essential.
Soft foliage is readily attacked by chewing insects (eg. caterpillars and grasshoppers), but will regrow rapidly. Propagates very easily from cuttings or seed, at most times of the year.
O. basilicum (Sweet Basil, Common Basil) -to 70cm tall. Light green wide foliage, white or purplish flowers in summer (in temperate areas), or most of the year (in the sub tropics).
O. basilicum Purpurescens -to 70cm tall, dark green to purplish leaves, sometimes a more woody growth.
O. canum (Hoary Basil) -to 70cm tall, white flowers, a native of tropical and sub tropical Asia.
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