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Growing basil in home gardens

Quick facts

  • Traditional sweet basil is the most popular variety, used mostly for cooking. 
  • Sow seeds directly into the ground after danger of spring frosts has passed.
  • Since basil is a tender annual, it will not survive the winter in our region.
  • Begin harvesting at any time by snipping the fresh young leaves as needed.
  • Many people use dried or frozen basil during the cold months when fresh basil is unavailable.

One of the easiest and most popular culinary herbs to grow is the common or sweet basil, Ocimum basilicum. A member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), it is native to southern Asia and islands of the south Pacific. This tender annual is popular for its aromatic leaves, used fresh or dried. Basil seeds are common in Thai foods. 

Like most herbs, basil requires a sunny location that receives at least six to eight hours of bright light per day, and well drained soil conditions.

Soil pH and fertility

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Selecting plants

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Planting

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How to keep your basil healthy and productive

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Shirley Mah Kooyman

Reviewed in 2018

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