Basil Questions

nyxx88(Tropical)January 2, 2014

Hi All

I have some questions:
- Basil identification: How do I tell sweet basil from Genovese basil?
- Read in this forum that if the sweet basil leaves are curved upwards (like an upside down bowl), it is an indication that it is overwatered - how should a well balanced leaf look like? Flat? Right side up bowl?
- Are red basil & purple basil the same cultivar? I am confused by all the various websites :(.
- To prevent/delay bolting, we are advised to prune basil. If I take the pruned cutting & root it, does it 'reset' the basil's internal timer & it behaves like a young plant? Or would it bolt as per the timing of its parent?

Thanks in advance! Looking forward to learning more :)

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zackey(GA 8b)

I like Dave's Garden for plant identifications. I just have regular basil. Not sure what variety it is. I grow several from cuttings. It grows like a weed. I cut the flowers off mine every week. It attracts butterflies ist let part of it flower. My Thai or Holy Basil attracts honeybees. Something that is kinda rare around here. I gave up and just let the Holy Basil flower. It has so many cool butterflies dining on it, it was worth it. Plus I had others in the yard to use for tea.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 3:33PM
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nyxx88(Tropical)

Zackey: Thanks for replying! :) I will go check out Dave's Garden.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 7:27PM
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balloonflower(5b Denver CO, HZ 5-6, Sunset 2b)

There are so many different varietals of basil, that it is very difficult to keep track of the differences. But, basically there are only a few flavor profiles, and the different names will generally fall into one, with slight differences.

Sweet Basil and Genovese Basil are basically interchangeable. It depends on your varietal what the leaves will look like--common sweet will droop downward, while some are more pointed and flat leafed. Most of the green leafed basils with green stems fall into this same flavor category--some can tend more toward the anise than others, but used the same.

Opal, Red, Purple--again all pretty much the same with slight differences. Use like sweet basil, but can be more anise. I like using them for vinegars and pesto with sun dried tomatoes.

Cinnamon is kind of on it's own flavorwise, and African Blue and Cardinal are also more unique. All can be culinary but are grown just as much for the beauty. Thai or Holy are different flavored, with much more anise flavor.

Pinching basil as it grows will delay flowering, though some like Thai are notorious for blooming no matter what. When you root a cutting, it does set it back because the plant will take energy to grow the roots before focusing again on the leaves and propagation.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 9:03PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

The BEST way to find out and learn about them is to PLANT THEM. In my opinion, some of the differences in taste, foliage shape are subtle. Purple is a shade of red with some blue in it. But I have not heard of , nor seen RED basil.

This year I will be growing few varieties : Three Asian and couple of Italian. I personally do not care for SWEET basil. They are too bland to me.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 5:23AM
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fatamorgana2121

Holy basil is different than sweet basil. Different species, different uses. Flowering is fine and does not effect the quality of the herb. I find the flowers one of the appealing parts of holy basil in the herb garden. And bumble and honey bees do love it. Unlike sweet basil types, holy basil dries very nicely for a wonderful herbal tea.

Thai basil, which I love and like to grow as well, is a sweet basil type.

FataMorgana

Holy Basil

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 8:10AM
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nyxx88(Tropical)

seysonn: you mentioned that sweet basil is too bland for you, then... what would you consider as more fragrant?

currently, besides sweet basil, i also have lemon basil, cinnamon basil & thai basil...

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 1:24PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

seysonn: you mentioned that sweet basil is too bland for you, then... what would you consider as more fragrant?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I prefer lemon, Thai, cinnamon, some Italian varieties.

I understand that people have different likes and preferences.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 9:30PM
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nyxx88(Tropical)

I see... I have lemon, cinnamon & Thai too. But they are not doing as well as my sweet basil :-/

But incidentally, my sweet basil's leaves (the new ones) are getting wrinkly... any idea?

I will try to take some pics later if I can.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 12:20AM
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nyxx88(Tropical)

Here's a pic of the wrinkly leaves.

Is it because they went through a short dry spell? Sometimes, I don't have time to give them a morning drink :(

Or is it something to do with soil? Or lack of sun?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 7:56PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I am by no means up to speed on Basils - I only grow Genovese and that is a struggle in my climate. But It does often have wibbly leaves. However, while the older plant in the background of your photo looks normal, the younger ones do look a bit weird. I would start by looking closely for aphids. Look at the growing tips and under the leaves. I can almost persuade myself I can see some in your picture on the big leaf in the background. The are sap suckers and distort foliage.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 4:23AM
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nyxx88(Tropical)

URGH!!! Is that so? That might mean I have to get something to rid my plants of pests :(

Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 7:24PM
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nyxx88(Tropical)

Just read a post by bmoser in this thread (http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/herbs/msg0715171516622.html).

Apparently, too much nitrogen could make the basil leaves go wrinkly too & not just pests. Hmm... I should start watering my plants like crazy to leach out some of that excess nitrogen?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 8:27PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

nyxx88 - have you had a close look at the foliage? You should be able to see aphids if that is the problem.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 1:52PM
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nyxx88(Tropical)

@floral_uk I tried... couldn't find any bugs. Hence the confusion... *scratches head*

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 9:58AM
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gosssamer

I have aphids and a small black bug on my basil. The nursery gave me a spray bottle that's safe for use on vegetation, but it hasn't worked. I've also tried a simple spray bottle with a little dish soap in it, and that also hasn't worked.

Do you have any other suggestions for getting rid of aphids and others pests in basil?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 1:28AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

gosssamer - from your parentheses I am assuming your basil is in a pot indoors. In which case I would just hold it carefully sideways under the tap and wash the foliage. No purchase necessary. Outdoors I'd use the hose.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 7:16AM
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gosssamer

That's a good thought, thanks.

Yes, I have a florescent grow light fixture with about four basil plants, some cilantro, dill, and a few others.

Do you think I could put one at a time in the sink then use the spray hose at the sink to spray them down? I'm afraid turning them on their side would be difficult to keep the soil in the pots...

Thanks again,
Dave

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 12:00PM
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nyxx88(Tropical)

@floral_uk: I just found something on my basil today :( ... they don't look like aphids, but have hard shells & are found on the stem of the basils. But when I crush the shells, they seem empty? But also has some whitish powder along its sides. Any idea what that might be?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 12:23PM
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djmasturbeat(5-Cbus,OH)

is anyone well informed on the many Thai and Thai Holy Basils?
I know there are 4 main types of Tulsi/ Holy basil according to Vedic traditions: Krishna Tulsi, Rama Tulsi, Vana Tulsi & Kapoor Tulsi. I know there are also other Thai Basils such as Siam Queen.
Finding reliable sources for these can be difficult, it seems, so besides links for any info, I would be interested in names or links to reliable vendors who know what tye are selling and have some of these varieties. I see that Horizon Herbs has a pack with the 4 main Holy Basil, fwiw. I would be interested in more sources and cultivars.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 12:36PM
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nyxx88(Tropical)

Ok... I did some Googling... looks like I have scale insects :(

@djmasturbeat (it is easy to mistype your nick :P), didn't know there were THAT many variants of holy basil. And I think I have a slight OCD regarding the cultivars... at least, I would very much like to know what I am planting. Now I would not be able to sleep at night *sigh*

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 9:04PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

nyxx88 - yes, basil can et scale.

gosssamer - you'll just have to experiment. I do it by holding diagonally and putting my hand over the soil.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 2:46PM
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nyxx88(Tropical)

Went to garden supplies yesterday & bought a bottle of neem oil & some 'organic/natural' spray. Wish me luck!!! :)

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 8:14PM
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