Thai basil - big leaves?

mimi178January 22, 2011

Hi everyone! I want to plant some thai basil(the ones typically found in Vietnamese restaurants when ordering pho) I remember purchasing some last year and the leaves were super tiny, I was so disappointed :( so just want to ask everyone how would I be able to tell the difference this time around? Any pointers would be great! Thanks in advance

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The thai basils I have grown ("Siam Queen" is my favorite) do have much smaller leaves than normal sweet basils. And some sweet basils have simply monstrous leaves! But it's not the size but the favor that is so wonderful about thai basil. How was the taste of your basil?

Once while picking up take out at my favorite thai restaurant, I had the pleasure to go when there was a group of ladies who worked there sitting around table working on a tremendous pile of basil on the table between them. They were getting the basil ready to cook with. They were happily talking away and the air smelled great. I mentioned to the owner that was a BIG pile of basil. He told me that they get it from Hawaii and go through 90 pounds a week. I live in NY....Hawaii is a bit of a distance away. But the growing conditions there would probably make the basil larger and more lush than I could ever manage in my location. So the point of my may not be able to compete with the basil you see in the local restaurants. The growing conditions it had may be much different than yours.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 10:26PM
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Thanks for your reply FataMorgana! My leaves were so little, I couldn't even taste anything LOL.. It was such a pain to pick too since I need to alot more to make up the size since they were tiny!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 11:50PM
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Maybe the one you purchased was mislabled? There are basils(globe or bush)with very small leaves.

Here is a link that might be useful: basil varieties

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 12:49PM
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mimi, you might be interested in Kitazawa Seed Company. In addition to Asian Veggies, they have a couple varieties of basil for Thai cooking. Langkuri is a Thai basil with larger leaves.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitazawa Seed

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 6:50AM
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I live in Hawaii and even out here, Thai basil has smaller leaves than other varieties, like sweet or genovese. I've read that allowing the plant to dry out inbetween waterings put stress on the plant which makes the leaves more flavorful. I also prune a branch all the way to its base as soon as it starts to flower, about 3 weeks.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 8:26PM
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Thai basil leaves are deep green in color. It has a strong flavor and aroma which is sweet and peppery.

The leaves can be bigger, when compared to the other basil varieties.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 2:21AM
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sunseeker53(10a CA USA)

The thai basil used to accompany vietnamese "Pho*" (beef noodle soup) is a different kind than Siam Queen. Because I was never able to get the cuttings of the vietnamese basil to root, I had to buy some Siam Queen seeds, and got many plants from the seeds except the leaves are very small in comparison (they are still pretty fragrant, but not the same strong fragrance you get from the vietnamese basil).
Last week I tried to root the vietnamese basil again, this time covering the whole glass of water with clear plastic (to form a mini-greenhouse). And guess what? my cuttings put out roots within a few days!!! I am so delighted that I've found a way to root the vietnamese basil, as I just couldn't find the right seeds to grow them from.
So all of you who love vietnamese Pho*, you know now that you can save the stems after you've finished eating at the restaurant and they will root in water for you!
Here's a picture of my cutting with roots:

Uploaded with

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 10:39AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

As Fatamorgana said TB have smaller leaves, when compared to traditional sweet basils but I would not label them "tiny". Another feature of TB is that the keep flowering and get bery bushy.Try a similar called "Cinnamon" basil.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 7:59PM
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I hadn't ordered from Kitazawa Seed Company before but gave them a shot after seeing Herbalbetty's suggestion. I admit it was the fastest delivery I ever got of the seeds! The packets have a fair amount of seed in them for the price. I would suggest trying one of their other thai basil varieties if you are unhappy with "Siam Queen."


    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 8:43AM
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sunseeker53(10a CA USA)

Hello Ana,
I need to do a few more trials. That picture was the only thai basil that I was able to root. In the past I've tried and tried and was NEVER able to get roots on them.
This time I think what made the difference was because I enclosed the cup in plastic (like a greenhouse) and amazingly the roots came out, but only on this one cutting. My other cuttings in other cups have not rooted yet eve though the cups were also wrapped in plastic. so we'll see. If I get them to root as well, I will post an article per pour request.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 12:26PM
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sunseeker53(10a CA USA)

I need to make a clarification: I referred above to "vietnamese basil" but what I meant was Thai Basil the kind that is used with vietnamese Pho* soup!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 10:38PM
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