Annual Herbs - Basil

Plow & Hearth

Annual herbs, like Basil and Dill, are grown both in the raised garden beds and in containers, indoors and out. Some of the varieties we grow are described below.


Red Basil

Red Basil is an unusual looking addition to any kitchen garden. It is just as tasty and flavorful as regular Basil. There only a few red varieties to choose from that are widely available.

We grow Red Rubin. It can be difficult to germinate under less than ideal conditions. It needs to be warm, so wait until the soil is quite warm and the evening temperatures are averaging above 50 to direct seed it. When starting your seeds indoors, a seed heat mat can really speed up the process.

The seeds do not germinate as quickly when they are very wet. We noticed that when we used the Aerogrow (seed starting) to start the Red Rubin from seed they took 4 to 6 days longer to sprout versus using seed starting medium and peat pots or the Bio Dome system.

Its dark red or burgundy leaves and stems are very ornamental. It would make a nice contrast in a bed of white flowers. They go to seed in the heat of mid-summer and will readily self seed. So don't put them anywhere you would not want them to pop up next year.

It is sweet and spicy, a little stronger than Italian varieties. 

Sweet Basil

Sweet Basil herb

Sweet Basil is bright green. It looks nice against the olive and darker greens of most herbs. It will sprout under almost any conditions. Bottom heat speeds up germination.

It bolts quickly so I start seeds in March, May and July to ensure we always have some on hand. If you clip too much it will keep in a vase of water in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

This is my favorite Basil to use for bruschetta, pasta salads and fresh tomato sauces.

Marseilles Basil

This is a dwarf variety we are growing for the first time this year. The catalog description said it was a small, 12 inch plant with large, smooth, aromatic leaves are ideal for pots or small gardens.

It germinated quickly. The plants grew vigorously after transplanting and are now tiny shrubs.

It definitely needs to be in full sun. I put a few pots under the plant shelves during one of the early May thunderstorms and forgot about them. Just a few day deprived of sun and they have gotten leggy.

Pistou Basil

Also new to the garden this year is Pistou Basil. Another dwarf variety, it should only reach 8" at full maturity. Grown widely in France it was recently introduced here.

The plants are bushy and uniform so far. They have tiny, very fragrant leaves. Perfect for containers or border edgings.

Plow & Hearth

I have planted the Red Rubin, Sweet, Marseilles and Pistou Basils in large pots with Parsely that will spend the rest of the spring and summer on the deck.

Herbs, page 1 covers our herb growing methods or go back to Herbs, page 2 to read about perennial herbs.

Leave Annual Herbs - Basil, page 3 and go to Composting

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