About Basil – Types of Basil and Growing Basil


According to research, Basil was first cultivated about 5,000 years ago. Although researchers disagree on where exactly Basil originated from, between India and Africa, but both cultures have used the herb for millennia.

Basil is a herb that is that thrives primarily in the warm weather and tastes great when it is put in Italian dishes. There are many different types of basils. The most common type of basil is sweet basil; other types of basil include purple basil (this type of basil is less sweet than common basil), lemon basil (lemon flavor), and Thai basil (which has a flavor like licorice).


Growing Basil

As a plant, Basil is very easy to grow but it only grows outdoors, and only during  the summer- once the soil has warmed up nicely—so if you are interested in growing Basil at all, plan accordingly. Basil wasn’t used in Britain up until the 16th century. And after that, it made its way to North America.Today, Basil is one of the largest exporters of basil are France, Italy, Morocco, and Egypt. In the US, California produces the most basil. In ancient times, basil represented different things for various civilizations. The Haitians believed that it would protect them from evil, while the Egyptians guarded their tombs and graves by scattering basil leaves on top of them. In places like Iran and Malaysia, basil is still planted on the graves of friends and relatives as a sign of love for the deceased.In ancient Greece, it was used as a symbol of mourning. The root of the word ‘basil’ is the Greek word ‘basilikohn,’ which stands for ‘royal’ or ‘kingly.’ The first written record of basil was in a British book written in the 17th century. It didn’t appear in American books up until about a century later.

Increasing Basil into your diet could significantly improve your diet. If you want to regularly include basil in your dishes, then growing it at home, in your garden is an excellent idea. Once you get everything set up, it’s actually pretty easy. Keep in mind that a few basil plants will prove to be more than enough for a small group of people, so you won’t need a lot of storage space. One limitation of growing basil like I mentioned earlier in this post is that it isn’t very cold-tolerant.

If you live in a very cold region, you’ll only have a small window of time to plant basil, and it may be worth your while to grow it in a spot that gets the most sunlight for at least six to eight hours. Because you’ll be using the leaves while preparing food, make sure you don’t use harmful pesticides or place the plant near running cars because exhaust could settle onto it. If you want to plant directly outside, wait for the ground temperature to reach at least 70°F. But if you don’t want to wait for the soil to get warm before planting, you can plant seeds six weeks before the frost goes away.

Types of Basil

Basil as a plant has a lot of different varieties. There are between 50-150 different types of Basil plants. Here are a few of the more popular ones.

Sweet Basil

This variety is the most common and readily available. It’s widely used in a variety of dishes. Sweet basil plants usually grow to a height of 14 to 30 inches, and they tend to thrive in hot weather. Sweet basil has a fresh aroma as well as a sweet taste, and it particularly tastes really well with Italian cuisine. You can try it in Italian sauces, marinades, as well as soups.

Thai Sweet Basil

As the name implies, this version of sweet basil is mostly used in Southeastern  Asian cuisines. The leaves of Thai sweet basil plants are smaller and have pointed, dark-green tips. Unlike most types of basil plants, the flowers of Thai basil are deep purple or maroon, and they come in a cone-like shape.The height can range from 18 to 24 inches, and it has a distinctly spicy taste (almost like anise).


Purple Basil

If you like your garden to have be both useful and pretty, then the purple basil is a two-in-one package deal. With its striking deep-purple leaves and stems, it can give your garden a unique burst of color. Although it isn’t as sweet as other varieties of basil, it has a unique clove-like taste. Ranging from 14 to 20 inches in height, purple basil also has its own sub-varieties (such as Dark Opal or Purple Ruffles). Purple basil is great for  different types of salads as well as garnishes, and it can also be used for its aroma and color in dishes.

Lemon Basil

If you like lemons, the you’ll love this specific type of basil. Lemon basil can grow up to a height of 36 inches, and it has long, smooth, light-green leaves. It usually develops flower spikes that are around five to ten inches long. If you’re genuinely interested in using basil for exotic dishes, lemon basil is perfect. It goes really well with salads, fish dishes, grilled veggies, chicken marinades, desserts, and teas.

Lettuce Basil

It’s easy to tell a lettuce basil plant apart from most other varieties, since it has a unique look: it has wide, wrinkled light green leaves that resemble (you guessed it) lettuce. It has a mild flavor that works well in salads, garnishes, and wraps. Although its leaves are large (around four inches wide and six to ten inches long), the plant itself only grows to around 12 inches in height. The flowers of lettuce basil develop later than in most varieties, so the leaves grow longer than usual.


Basil leaves on spaghetti

Holy Basil

Holy basil has special significance in the Hindu religion. Also called the Sacred Basil, it is revered as a symbol of the goddess Tulsi. It is also widely used in Indian cuisine, especially in meat-based dishes. Ancient Indian people also placed basil leaves on the chests of the dead, so that they could ascend to heaven. It grows to around 12 to 14 inches tall, and it has dark green spotted leaves. It’s best used in teas or cooked in dishes. When it is eaten raw, it gives off a bitter taste. It’s known to improve immunity, blood circulation, kidney health, and stomach problems.



Cinnamon Basil

This variety comes with a delicious fragrance and a spicy taste. It grows up to 30 inches tall, and with purple stems, pinkish-purple flowers, and neat, shiny leaves, it’s a lovely plant. Although it has a spicy cinnamon flavor, it’s mild enough that it can be used in dishes without the fear of overpowering other flavors. It goes well with fruit salads, Asian marinades, noodles, fried rice, and grilled vegetables.

Cardinal Basil

Cardinal basil enhances the appearance of any garden. As its name implies, it produces bright red flowers, which are tightly packed together. It can grow up to 30 inches tall, and it has small light-green leaves. Cardinal basil has a stronger taste than most varieties, and it can give a powerful kick of spice to oils, vinegars, or marinades.

Spicy Globe Basil

Spicy Globe basil (also known as Spicy Bush basil) is the perfect choice for those who don’t have much space to grow basil. Spicy globe basil usually only grow to 10 or 12 inches, so it’s a compact plant. It has small leaves with serrated edges, but it packs an intense flavor. It works well in different types of soups, sauces, and pastas.

Christmas Basil

A cross between Thai sweet basil and Genovese, Christmas Basil is versatile. It can be grown in containers, and it works great as an ornamental plant. It grows from 12 to 18 inches in height, and it has big, glossy leaves and purple flowers. It has  fruity taste  which makes it very suitable for salads, desserts, and different types of shakes.