Basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs. Your local grocery store usually stocks Sweet Basil as this is the most common variety of this herb.
You can also find varieties with deep purple leaves. Not only is basil great to use for cooking it is a pretty addition in the garden. Below are some tips to grow basil in Phoenix, types of basil available and ideas on what to do with all of your fresh basil.
Basil, Ocimum bascilicum, is an annual herb in most parts of the country. However, if protected from frost it can live year round in Phoenix.
Phoenix Gardening Steps: Grow Basil
- When and how to plant basil
- What grows well near basil and what doesn’t?
- How to care for basil
- Harvesting basil- When is the ideal time to pick basil?
When to Plant and How to Grow Basil
Basil is an annual herb, however if protected from frost it is possible to be a perennial in Phoenix. Plant seeds between February and April.
Water seeds daily until they start to sprout. Dry seeds may not germinate. Once mature water deeply- 12 to 18″ to encourage strong root growth.
How Fast Does Basil Sprout?
On average basil will start to sprout in a week or two and depending on the variety can be ready to harvest in less than a month.
Allow space for basil to spread up to one feet and one to two feet tall.
Types of Basil
The most common basil is Sweet Basil. It is used all over the world and is readily available at your local grocer. Another popular variety is Genovese Basil. This variety is found in classic Italian dishes such as pesto and bruschetta.
Use Thai Basil – a slightly spice and yet sweet variety of basil- for Asian inspired dishes. Thai basil has green leaves and pretty dainty purple flowers. Purple leaf basil varieties are also available. They are generally not as sweet as the green leaf varieties and have more of a clove taste to them.
Looking for something a little different? Plant Cinnamon, Lemon, or Lime Basil in your garden.
What is Fresh Basil Used For?
Use basil to flavor culinary dishes, medicinal purposes, and/or for tea. Many varieties of basil produce pretty flowers, so they are also a nice addition to your flower garden.
Companion Plants for Basil
Rue is the only herb Basil should not be planted near as it can inhibit growth. Basil is great to plant near tomatoes and asparagus.
Basil also helps deter mosquitoes.
How to Care for Basil
Light Requirements: Basil prefers full sun or 6-8 hours of sun.
Soil Requirements: Prefers fertile well-drained soil. Basil like most herbs prefers neutral and slightly acidic pH. The soil pH range of 6-7 is ideal.
Water Requirements: Basil likes consistent moisture. Water frequently so the soil stays moist, but not wet.
Cover during frosts.
When to Harvest Basil
Basil takes less than a month from seed to harvest. In Phoenix harvest basil in the months of March, April and May. Flowers are also edible.