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Similar but less problematic plants:
Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilicum
Ocimum basilicum is often confused with:
Ocimum tenuiflorum Opposite leaves
Perilla frutescens Leaves
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Thymus vulgaris Thymus vulgaris
Salvia rosmarinus Rosmarinus officinalis
Allium Alllium
Ocimum basilicum has some common insect problems:
Japanese Beetle
Aphids on Ornamental Landscape Plants
Slugs & Snails on Ornamental Plants
Ocimum basilicum has some common disease problems:
Basil Downy Mildew

Genovese Basil Ocimum basilicum

Phonetic Spelling
OH-sih-mum bass-IL-ih-kum
Description

Sweet basil is an herb in the Lamiaceae (mint) family and native to the tropical regions of Africa and Asia. Thai and Genovese basil are cultivars of this plant. The fragrant edible leaves are great in soups, stews, and other meat dishes. 

Sweet basil prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soils. It can be grown from seed or is easily transplanted and should be done so after the last frost. Prune by pinching the tips of long stems and any flower buds. This promotes a branching, bushy form.

Sweet basil cultivars with showy purple foliage are often used as ornamentals and are perfect for containers. Plant in a bed or window box to create contrasting colored foliage. Miniature varieties are also available, which are great for mass plantings along the edge of flower beds. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Aphids and Japanese beetles are occasional insect problems. Fusarium wilt and basil downy mildew are disease problems. There are several cultivars that are resistant to basil downy mildew.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Nuts" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Mostly Native Vegetable, Herb and Pollinator Garden Vegetable Garden and Pollinator Plants
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'African Blue'
    Fragrant but not good for eating
  • 'Anise'
    Ornamental flowers with purple-tinted leaves. Fragrance and taste is similar to anise. 2'-2 1/2' tall.
  • 'Blue Spice'
    Thai, basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Cinnamon'
    Flowers and stems are purple in color. Strong cinnamon fragrance. 2'-2 1/2' tall.
  • ‘Dark Opal Purple’
    Purple leaves 1962 All- America selections winner
  • 'Genovese'
    Larger leaves than traditional basil. 2' tall.
  • 'Greek Columnar'
  • 'Greek Dwarf'
    Compact 6" tall, spicy slightly anise flavor
  • 'Holy Basil'
    Fragrant but not good for eating
  • 'Lemon'
    Thai, basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Lime'
    Thai, basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Newton'
    Italian basil, 4 in. long leaves, Fusarium wilt resistant
  • Prospera® Compact DMR
    Basil downy mildew resistant
  • Prospera® DMR
    Basily downy mildew resistant
  • Prospera® Italian Large Leaf DMR
    Basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Purple Ruffles'
    Dark purple ruffled and fringed leaves
  • 'Queenette'
    Thai basil, basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Queen of Sheba'
    Often used as an ornamental, but also edible, compact good for containers
  • 'Red Leaf'
    Red leaves, basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Rubin'
    Dark purple leaves, consistent purple color
  • ‘Rutgers Devotion-DMR'
    Resistant to basil downy mildew
  • 'Rutgers Obsession-DMR’
    Resistant to basil downy mildew
  • 'Rutgers Passion-DMR'
    Resistant to basil downy mildew
  • ‘Rutgers Thunderstruck-DMR'
    Resistant to basil downy mildew
  • 'Siam Queen'
    Thai basil-large leave purple flowers/stems. Flavor resembles spicy licorice-mint. Winner of the 1997 All American Selection.
  • 'Spicy Globe'
    Dwarf, good for containers or edging
  • 'Sweet Dani'
    Lemon fragrance, good dried, 1998 All American Selections winner
'African Blue', 'Anise', 'Blue Spice', 'Cinnamon', ‘Dark Opal Purple’, 'Genovese', 'Greek Columnar', 'Greek Dwarf', 'Holy Basil', 'Lemon', 'Lime', 'Newton', Prospera® Compact DMR, Prospera® DMR, Prospera® Italian Large Leaf DMR, 'Purple Ruffles', 'Queenette', 'Queen of Sheba', 'Red Leaf', 'Rubin', ‘Rutgers Devotion-DMR', 'Rutgers Obsession-DMR’, 'Rutgers Passion-DMR', ‘Rutgers Thunderstruck-DMR', 'Siam Queen', 'Spicy Globe', 'Sweet Dani'
Tags:
#purple#fragrant#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#annuals#edible plant#perennials#white flowers#purple flowers#pink flowers#purple leaves#fragrant leaves#edible flowers#moist soil#fast growing#herbaceous#well-drained soil#perennial flowers#summer flowers#herb garden culinary#dye plant#bracts#herbaceous perennials#edible landscaping#small flowers#annual flowers#purple stems#summer interest#edible garden#edible leaves#naturalized area#green leaves#forb#annual herb#herbaceous annual#ascending#partial shade tolerant#container vegetable garden#pink#ebh-vh#ebh#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#yellow dye plant#wilson mg plant sale 2021#lawn planting#container plant#vhfn#vhfn-h#early childhood#green dye plant#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'African Blue'
    Fragrant but not good for eating
  • 'Anise'
    Ornamental flowers with purple-tinted leaves. Fragrance and taste is similar to anise. 2'-2 1/2' tall.
  • 'Blue Spice'
    Thai, basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Cinnamon'
    Flowers and stems are purple in color. Strong cinnamon fragrance. 2'-2 1/2' tall.
  • ‘Dark Opal Purple’
    Purple leaves 1962 All- America selections winner
  • 'Genovese'
    Larger leaves than traditional basil. 2' tall.
  • 'Greek Columnar'
  • 'Greek Dwarf'
    Compact 6" tall, spicy slightly anise flavor
  • 'Holy Basil'
    Fragrant but not good for eating
  • 'Lemon'
    Thai, basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Lime'
    Thai, basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Newton'
    Italian basil, 4 in. long leaves, Fusarium wilt resistant
  • Prospera® Compact DMR
    Basil downy mildew resistant
  • Prospera® DMR
    Basily downy mildew resistant
  • Prospera® Italian Large Leaf DMR
    Basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Purple Ruffles'
    Dark purple ruffled and fringed leaves
  • 'Queenette'
    Thai basil, basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Queen of Sheba'
    Often used as an ornamental, but also edible, compact good for containers
  • 'Red Leaf'
    Red leaves, basil downy mildew resistant
  • 'Rubin'
    Dark purple leaves, consistent purple color
  • ‘Rutgers Devotion-DMR'
    Resistant to basil downy mildew
  • 'Rutgers Obsession-DMR’
    Resistant to basil downy mildew
  • 'Rutgers Passion-DMR'
    Resistant to basil downy mildew
  • ‘Rutgers Thunderstruck-DMR'
    Resistant to basil downy mildew
  • 'Siam Queen'
    Thai basil-large leave purple flowers/stems. Flavor resembles spicy licorice-mint. Winner of the 1997 All American Selection.
  • 'Spicy Globe'
    Dwarf, good for containers or edging
  • 'Sweet Dani'
    Lemon fragrance, good dried, 1998 All American Selections winner
'African Blue', 'Anise', 'Blue Spice', 'Cinnamon', ‘Dark Opal Purple’, 'Genovese', 'Greek Columnar', 'Greek Dwarf', 'Holy Basil', 'Lemon', 'Lime', 'Newton', Prospera® Compact DMR, Prospera® DMR, Prospera® Italian Large Leaf DMR, 'Purple Ruffles', 'Queenette', 'Queen of Sheba', 'Red Leaf', 'Rubin', ‘Rutgers Devotion-DMR', 'Rutgers Obsession-DMR’, 'Rutgers Passion-DMR', ‘Rutgers Thunderstruck-DMR', 'Siam Queen', 'Spicy Globe', 'Sweet Dani'
Tags:
#purple#fragrant#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#annuals#edible plant#perennials#white flowers#purple flowers#pink flowers#purple leaves#fragrant leaves#edible flowers#moist soil#fast growing#herbaceous#well-drained soil#perennial flowers#summer flowers#herb garden culinary#dye plant#bracts#herbaceous perennials#edible landscaping#small flowers#annual flowers#purple stems#summer interest#edible garden#edible leaves#naturalized area#green leaves#forb#annual herb#herbaceous annual#ascending#partial shade tolerant#container vegetable garden#pink#ebh-vh#ebh#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#yellow dye plant#wilson mg plant sale 2021#lawn planting#container plant#vhfn#vhfn-h#early childhood#green dye plant#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ocimum
    Species:
    basilicum
    Family:
    Lamiaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Plant tops can be used to make green and yellow dyes.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Tropical Africa and Asia
    Play Value:
    Fragrance
    Edibility:
    Leaves and flowers in tea, as flavoring
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 4 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 4 in. - 1 ft. 2 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Herb
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10b, 10a
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    Bracts
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The small white flowers are lipped in shape. They are arranged in whorled racemes with bracts at the base. Some ornamental varieties have spikes of showy purple flowers. Blooms in late summer.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Variegated
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are bright green and are attached directly to the base of the stem. Simple leaves and opposite in arrangement at right angles to each other. Ovate in shape with smooth margins and slight bulging between the veins. 1/2"-3" in length. Very fragrant. Ornamental varieties may have purple or variegated leaves.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Square
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Stem is thin and hollow and has a branching tendency. The cross-section is square in shape.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Mass Planting
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Rabbits