basils used for
cooking, or culinary basils, are cultivars of the sweet basil species Ocimum basilicum. Loosely
translated, Ocimum basilicum
means the king of fragrance.
A traditional herb used in Italian, Mediterranean, and Thai
cookery, basil is one of the most widely used herbs in modern
cooking. It adds flavor to pasta, rice, tomatoes, cheese,
salads, fish and poultry dishes.
During the summer, basil will benefit from a two- to three- inch layer
of organic mulch to help retain soil moisture and minimize
Basil thrives in warm weather and will benefit from one inch of water
Do not fertilize, as this will result in a decrease in flavor.
flavor, harvest basil just as the flower
buds begin to form. Harvest in
the morning just
after the dew has evaporated.
The best strategy for harvesting basil is to leave enough foliage on
the plant so it will continue to grow. Cut top leaves off
1/4 inch above a pair of leaves lower down on the stem. Basil
then be harvested every two to three weeks.
Basil plants have beautiful, edible and attractive flowers that can be
used for garnishes.
is a Thai basil
that has bright green leaves, purple red stems and violet-pink flowers,
which make a beautiful specimen in the garden. As with other
culinary basil plants, its leaves may be harvested and used in cooking.
Jennifer Fishburn, University of Illinois College
of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; (217)782-4617;
Queen Basil Seeds
Herb Garden Kit