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Ualda's Garden


Species: ocymum basilicum.

INFO from:

Name Origin: Signifies royal or kingly most likely due to the plant's use in feasts. In France it is known as herb royale and the generic name is derived from Oza - a Greek word meaning odor. Read more on the History of Basil

Natural Order: Labiatæ

Growing Cycle: Biennial or Perennial Herb

Origins: Native of tropical Asia. Used for centuries in India as a condiment.

Height: 12 - 20 inches tall

Flowers: Little white or lilac (purple basil) flowers followed by small black berries containing the seeds.

Common Cultivars: Dwarf or bush basil, sacred basil, east indian or tree basil, purple basil, and lettuce-leaved basil.

Fun Fact.

During the reigns of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, farmers complimented visiting landladies with the presentation of a potted basil plant.

Basil seeds are viable for about 8 years and are tiny; about 23,000 basil seeds weigh an ounce.

Sowing Basil Seeds.

Due to their small size, basil seeds are best sown in flats with a light covering of soil. Water flats from the bottom until surface shows a wet spot. When basil seedlings are about an inch tall, thin so that each plant is two inches apart.


Once your basil seedlings are 3 inches tall, transplant to your garden where they should be planted a foot apart in rows separated by 15 to 18 inches. Can be also used as border plants, but this may require a bit more tending and removal of weeds between the plants. Basil prefers a sunny location with light fertile and somewhat dry soil that's as free from weeds as possible. When plants in adjoining rows meet, cultivation may stop.


You can begin gathering foilage in midsummer when the plants start to flower (once the basil plants flower the flavor decreases) by cutting individual basil leaves or leafy stems. If you harvest/cut the plants back every few weeks, it will encourage new growth and dealy flowering.

To extend the growing season, cut plants down to within a few inches of the ground to get a second and even a third crop. A little bit of fertilizer after pruning is helpful.

Basil Propagation.

Allow some of the strongest plants to remain uncut. Seeds should be ripe by mid-autumn.

Winter/Indoor Basil Use.

Transplant from the garden or sow seeds in early September. Sow seeds two to the inch and transplant seedlings into pots or boxes. A standard 4-inch pot is the perfect size for a single plant. If grown in flats, basil plants should be spaced 5 to 6 inches apart in each direction.

basil uses
leaves and oil
Leaves. Basil leaves are used in many dishes including soups, stews, and dressings.

Oil. Basil oil, a golden yellow essential oil, reddens with age and is more frequently used for perfumery than cooking.

Basil Companion Planting.

Basil, when planted nearby will help
chili and bell peppers,
and tomatoes.

Tomatoes are particularly good companions for basil as growing both near each other is said to make each crop taste better.
One expert did suggest that the only benefit of planting basil and tomatoes together was the ability to harvest them at the same time but I read numerous gardeners reporting that their tomatoes, basil or both plants seemed to benefit from the pairing.

Companions for Basil.

Planting chamomile near basil will be beneficial to the growth of your basil plants.

Bad Companions for Basil.

Common rue and sage should not be planted near basil.

Anise is supposed to increase the essential oil production in basil which depending upon your plans for your basil plants may be a good or bad companion plant.

Basil & Anise.

One of our sources said that planting anise near basil is beneficial and another listed anise as a bad companion plant for basil. Another source explained that anise will cause the essential oil production of basil to increase.

Basil attracts beneficial insects.
Basil will attract butterflies to your garden.

Basil repels many harmful insects.
Basil repels
asparagus beetles,
tomato hornworms
and white flies.
Basil is also reputed to slow the growth of milkweed bugs.

Basil has a long and interesting history which can be read on our basil throughout history page.
Did you know that it was once believed that basil generated scorpions?
And that it was once considered the emblem of the devil?
Thank goodness we have found much better uses for this tasty herb.


Photos of this plant