The basil plant is an annual plant grown not only as an herb for culinary purposes, but also for its good looks. Basil appears in varying leaf colors and sizes, and combines nicely with other garden plants. Basil grows well near tomatoes and also pairs beautifully with them in many recipes.
Description: Most types of basil grow 16 to 24 inches tall and wide, with oval green leaves about two inches long. There are two forms of basil: a purple-leaved form and a tiny-leaved dwarf form. Plants are at their most attractive during warm weather and are killed by frost.
How to grow: Grow basil in well-drained soil of average fertility in full sun. Space plants about ten inches apart. Pinch tips for bushiness and side growth. You can cook with the pieces you trim off. Water the soil around plants, not the leaves, to prevent leaf spots.
Propagation: Start seeds indoors six weeks before planting or outdoors when soil is warm and the danger of frost has passed. Seeds germinate in ten days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Thin or transplant the seedlings when they are three or four inches tall. Basil also grows from tip cuttings.
Uses: Grow basil in vegetable garden rows, in herb gardens, as clumps in flower borders, and as container plants. Their nice leaves and good form help them blend in everywhere. Leaves can be used fresh or dried.
Scientific name: Ocimum basilicum
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