The Basil One Sheet: Everything You Need To Know

Basil is a favorite herb around the world. It is a fragrant and abundant herb that has become a popular staple in most households.Sweet basil is a member of the mint family. It may be best known for its contributions to Italian cuisine, although it is originally from India. It is estimated that there are between 50 and 150 species of basil, all with extremely aromatic leaves, offering a variety of flavors, from lemon, to cinnamon and licorice. Basil leaf colors span from green to deep purple and all basil varieties thrive in the warm sunshine.

Best outdoor temperature for growing basil?

The best time to plant basil is two weeks after the last spring frost date. It is important to plant this herb when the soil is between 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit –  the warmer the temperatures, the better. Basil is an herb that craves heat and sunlight to grow, so bring your basil inside or cover it when the temperatures drop below 50 degrees.

What is the best way to harvest basil? 

It’s important to pinch your basil back often, this will encourage it to grow. You can begin harvesting your basil when it is at least 4 inches tall, taking off the top leaves. Look for the two largest leaves on your basil stem. Just below those, you should see another set of leaves or little nodes growing in between the smaller set of leaves. Cut the stem ¼” above the nodes.

Repeat this process on other stems. Harvesting the lead stem of your basil plant sends a message to the smaller leaves that it is now time for them to grow into their own branches and produce their own harvests.

It may feel odd to cut back your plant, but it’s ok to cut up to ⅓ of the plant — either for harvesting or pruning. It will grow back!

Here are some great ways to use your basil harvest!

For more information on how to harvest basil check out our basil harvesting guide!

Pruning Basil. Even if you don’t need basil right away, keep your basil pruned. Regular pinching off will encourage the growth of new leaves. Remember to prune from the newest growth. If you have excess basil try adding several stems to a tabletop floral bouquet. It will add great aroma to any floral arrangement.

How much light does basil need to grow?

Basil needs about 6-8 hours of full sun each day. If you are growing in the South or Southwest, allow your basil garden to get some afternoon shade so that you can avoid burning the leaves. If you are growing your basil indoors, consider placing the plants in an East facing window to avoid the scorching direct light of South or North-facing windows. Be sure that your plants get a minimum of 6 hours of sun each day.

Should I water basil every day?

Due to all of the sunlight that basil requires, it is essential that you keep the soil moist with ample watering. Basil prefers to be watered at the base of the stems, not over the leaves. Water your basil deeply on a regular basis- to know if

Let’s talk taste.

Basil has a fragrant taste and aroma. It is a perfect combination between sweet and savory, making it an ideal herb to use for cooking, caking, and cocktails alike. Furthermore, basil is apart of the mint family, which gives it a bit of a minty and peppery flavor. 

Some of our favorite basil varities:

Greek Basil: Corsican is a Mediterranean basil variety with purple and green leaves and a sweet, mild flavor.

Genovese Basil: The best known of the garden basils was bred to be resistant to mildew and is a fast growing addition to your garden.

Sweet Basil often referred to as common basil, this is one of the most popular basil varieties in cooking.

Thai Basil is sweet, anise-and-clove flavor with green leaves, purple basil stems with beautiful purble flowers.

Holy Basil has a strong clover-like scent and is native to India. Holy basil is commonly used in the traditional Indian medicine system and is often called, “Hot Basil” because of its peppery taste. According to WebMD, Holy basil is thought to decrease pain and swelling.

Cinnamon Basil, Lemon Basil, Lime Basil are our favorite flavored basils and all have a scent that corresponds with the name.

What is the best way to plant basil?

Basil is a warm-weather herb, so starting with a well rooted transplant is always a great idea. Transplants ensure that the most delicate part of growing is completed by a trusted source, like Gardenuity, and allows you to get right to enjoying. This means that, with some tender love and care, water, heat, and direct sunlight, your basil harvest will be ready sooner than with any other growing method. Dig a hole about six inches deep and 3 inches across, planting basil pretty deep encourages the stems to grow lateral roots, which can help strengthen the plant.

What are good growing companions for basil? 

Basil does well living with plants that don’t require large amounts of water to survive. Basil is also a desirable companion plant for many other plants because its fragrant scent naturally repels pests. 

The best companion plants for basil are cabbage, tomatoes, asparagus, chamomile, chives, oregano, peppers, root veggies, beans, eggplant, or marigolds. Make sure you avoid planting basil near rue, fennel, or sage.  

3 Great Basil Recipes

Is basil good for you? 

Basil is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that make it a very healthy herb to add to your diet. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium. 

Additionally, basil has been noted as containing compounds that fight the effects of aging. This powerful antioxidant is full of polyphenolic flavonoids, which shield much of the body’s structures from cell-damaging free radicals.

As a good source of magnesium, basil also promotes blood flow. As a good source of Vitamin A, it promotes healthy eyesight. And eugenol has also been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory. These anti-inflammatory characteristics can boost digestion, detoxify the body, and even maintain skin health. 

What’s in a name? 

Basil is derived from the Greek word “basileus” which means king, or “basilikon” meaning royal. This may be due to the belief that basil was used in perfume production for royal families. Another derivative is of the Latin word “basiliscus,” which refers to a mythical fire-breathing snake or dragon that could kill someone with its stare. 

What is one thing you might not know about basil? 

  • Basil is a member of the Mint family and native to southern Asia and the islands of the South Pacific. There are over 100 basil varieties, each with a unique and interesting flavor and scent.
  • But, all basil is famous for its aromatic scent, which is due to the fragrant molecule called eugenol, which is responsible for basil’s spicy overtones reminiscent of cloves and cinnamon. Basil also produces essential oils in its leaves, which vary in composition. Depending on the basil species, the leaves may smell anise-like, with a pungent sweet scent.
  • When India was ruled by the British, Hindus were permitted to swear on holy basil rather than a bible in court settings.
  • Putting a pot of basil in your window is a way to call over a lover in Italy.
  • In some cultures, basil is associated with love and fertility and is used in wedding ceremonies and other romantic occasions.
  • Store your harvested basil in a glass of water at room temperature out of direct sunlight.
  • In ancient times, it was believed that basil could cure epilepsy.
  • The ancient Greeks believed basil had powers of fertility when eaten with honey or applied topically on one’s skin.
  • It is considered good luck to give someone a sprig of fresh basil when they are sick or on their birthday.
  • Basil can help with weight loss and has been know to lower cholesterol levels; improves moods by releasing serotonin, reducing inflammation in joints and helps fight off colds and the flu.