Arbor Gate's Picks of the Month
Bell Pepper Basil
A native of Oaxaca, Mexico, Bell Pepper Basil has spread rapidly since its initial introduction by Madalene Hill. It is unique for several reasons: unlike other basils, it can withstand a light frost. Even when it declines in our cool season, the roots remain hardy. In addition, its complex and subtle flavor incorporates an undertone of sweet bell pepper in addition to the expected basil flavor. It holds its flavor through cooking, freezing, and microwaving (as opposed to standard basil varieties.)
A wonderful addition to your landscape, this basil blooms continually from its first appearance in spring, and its blooms don’t slow down leaf production — another factor that differentiates it from standard basils. Bell Pepper Basil seeds are quite fertile, so you’ll have some volunteers among your other garden beauties– some to add to other areas of your own landscape and to pass along as well.
This is the one basil of my acquaintance that is improved both in looks and in flavor by growing in part shade. When placed in full sun, its shiny deep green leaves tend to become somewhat leathery and bleached in color. Although I haven’t tried it myself, other gardeners report that they can keep Bell Pepper Basil indoors.