Basil Varieties

I cannot think of another herb as lusciously fragrant as basil.


Basil is so versatile with varieties from sweet to tangy it is hard to select just a few for the garden each season.  Although basil plants are quite beautiful and often grown ornamentally in the landscape, you should determine how you want to use basil to make your selections.

Sweet Basil  Genovese Basil is probably the variety most commonly grown for culinary purposes, but a true Sweet Basil has a milder flavor.  Either variety is remarkably versatile.  It is the classic Italian basil used for cooking but is perfect shredded into salads or on fruits, in soups, on sandwiches and pizza, or as a garnish. The true Genovese is perfect for pesto.


Sweet Thai Basil  The flavor of Sweet Thai Basal is distinctly spicier that Itailian Basils.  Frequently used in Asian cooking, this basil holds it’s flavor through high heat cooking.  Excellent for stir fry, chicken sauces and spicy noodles.  And the purple stems with small light green leaves are so pretty in the garden.

Siam Queen is another Thai Basil that has become more popular recently.  With a good spicy bite it is used in Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cooking.

Lemon Basil  The refreshing lemony scent and lemony taste of lemon basil pairs beautifully with fish or chicken.  Try it in marinades and grilled vegetables, and absolutely use a sprig in glass of iced tea or lemonade.

Opal Basil  Commonly referred to as Purple Basil, Opal Basil adds light spice to mild greens and is excellent as a garnish.  Needless to say the dark purple stems and leaves are lovely in the garden.  It also does very well in containers.

Mexican Cinnamon Basil (also known as Mexican Basil or Cinnamon Basil) has a peppery flavor with notes of cinnamon.  Pairs well with any Mexican dish of course.

And many more naturally.  See what regional favorites your local garden store carries.

Sharon Dwyer