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Which Basil to Choose

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

Spring will be here soon � which means it�s time to think about what varieties of basil you�d like to grow this year. There are 20-30 different basils on the market, each with varying flavor, color, and growth habit. To help you sort this out, I�ve pulled together a quick list of seven popular varieties of basil, the king of herbs. Sweet Green � This is the species basil that started it all. It has light green smooth leaves and grows 2-3 feet in good condition. Definitely a �can�t miss� basil for garden or container. Genovese � Similar in growth habit to Sweet Green but with slightly smaller leaves. This variety is considered to have the best flavor for pesto. Spicy Globe � This is an aptly named basil. In full sun and with plenty of room it will grow into a 2-3 foot tall hemisphere. The leaves are about half the length of Sweet Green with a distinct spicy flavor. Dark Opal � For those who make herbal vinegars, this is a great basil to grow.

The deep purple crinkly leaves provide a ruby tint when steeped in vinegar. Needs full sun for the leaves to maintain their deep color.

Red Rubin � Bred from Dark Opal, Red Rubin is said to be more disease resistant, a good trait for gardeners who live near the Gulf Coast. Allow it to flower to enjoy the lavender blossoms in the garden.

Pesto Perpetuo � As you might guess, this is a good choice for pesto lovers. It�s one of the newer varieties that grow taller than they are wide. The leaves are more pointed than most basils and are edged with white. A good container basil.

Summerlong � Another tall variety with variegated leaves. It produces even in the hot Texas summers. When planted in a long row it will have a dramatic effect in the garden. This is definitely one on my list of must-grow herbs.

Of course, there are over a dozen more varieties on the market, with new ones appearing each year. Experiment with the new, but always plant some of the tried and true basils I�ve listed here.