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Ocimum basilicum


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Key information

Plant type

Half-hardy annual

Flower colour



Flowers, Aromatic foliage



Skill level


Ocimum basilicum

Plant details

Basil, Ocimum basilicum, is a popular, half-hardy to tender herb used in a variety of summer dishes, and works particularly well when eaten with tomatoes. It may also be grown with tomatoes, used as a companion plant to deter whitefly.

Native to dry scrub in Africa and Asia, basil requires a lot of heat to thrive, and can be prone to downy mildew. There are many varieties to choose from, however, some of which have been bred to withstand cooler conditions. 

Sow Ocimum basilicum seed indoors in a greenhouse or on a warm windowsill, and move plants outside in summer. Water plants sparingly, ideally before noon so the roots have time to dry out before temperatures decrease in the evening. Harvest leaves regularly and remove flowers to concentrate the plant's energy on leaf production.

Family: Lamiaceae

Genus: Ocimum

Species: basilicum

Plant type: Half-hardy annual

Flower colour: White

Foliage colour: Mid-green

Feature: Flowers, Aromatic foliage

Sun exposure: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained/light

Hardiness: Tender

Skill level: Beginner

Height: 50cm

Spread: 30cm

Time to plant seeds: March to May

Reader reviews


My Basil always seem to die after a month or two at the most. I do always pinch shoots off for cooking leaving the newer sprouts intact and always leave a few big leaves to keep it ticking over. Could I be over or under watering it as I have heard that is can be quite sensitive about when it's watered? Will it always die off even indoors? The taste is great and there really is nothing like fresh Pesto!


I never had luck with basil as I used to always grow it indoors. The key is to grow it outdoors! My basil this year is full and growing happily. I've used coffee grounds around the edge of the pot to keep out slugs and water it in the morning and it seems to be doing well *for now!*

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