Lemon basil that smells like anise?

catman529(6b)April 3, 2009


I'm growing some lemon basil from Ferry Morse seed. I started the seeds directly in Miracle Gro potting mix, and I think the fertilizer was too much because the seedlings have been burned badly. But they're not dead and I'm hoping they outgrow it and come back fine.

What I noticed is, some of them smell similar to anise when I rub the leaves. But some smell like regular lemon basil. I'm not sure why, but I'll grow them all and see how they turn out when they're bigger (assuming they'll survive the fertilizer ordeal). Anybody have ideas on this? Anise-smelling lemon basil?


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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

MIracle Grow has always been a very bad chemical based fertilizer. I never use it anywhere, even on lawns. In any case, the smell may be different from the taste. Most basil still has that anise smell no matter what type it is. The other attributes are usually flavors and/or color differences. Avoid using Miracle Grow as well as peat pots. These only cause seed germination losses and poor weak plants. It could also be that the basil seeds have been mixed by the packager. I use a coir based seed starting medium and never use any kind of chemical fertilizer. After a few leaves ae formed, I use a product from PCH thats meant for seedlings. Its mild and gentile enough to gorw most any seedling in.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 11:56AM
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Mixed/stray seeds or accidental cross-pollination from the original seed source is a possibility that came to mind.

But personally, I love Miracle Gro and use it for all my seedlings. Once I get the tomatoes and herbs into the garden, I will stop using it. But their slow-release 3 month fertilizer in the potting mix has given me the best results with my tomatoes, stevia, and sweet basil so far. Only the lemon basil has been burnt so I assume it's a more sensitive variety. I'll see if they outgrow their ordeal, and will do more tests on the anise/lemon scent and see if there really is a difference or if the plants are too young now to tell.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 12:06PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

My sister was my first negative response to my using MG on my tomatoes many years ago. She said they tasted bad, and didnt even have enough taste compared to store bought. MG has been trying to make an organic product, but have still been using some chemicals or refined chemicals. With an herb or other fruiting plant, its always good to go natural as to soil nutrients. My garden this year will be getting fish meal and feather meal for nitrogen, as I plan to grow a lot of corn. Also, I add humate which helps to increase micronutrients, something MG chemicals have none of. The nitrogen sources last all summer through fall. Whereas MG will dissipate in just a few weeks after its 'burned' things.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 8:16PM
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I noticed that the MG potting mix, which is apparently rich in nitrogen, dilutes the flavor/potency of the plants that are grown in it. So I am using it only temporarily; it will grow the plants big and healthy like it does very well, and then when the plants go in the garden, they will stop getting Miracle Gro from that time forward so they don't get diluted anymore.

My Stevia rebaudiana plants are are very healthy in their MG potting mix, but their stevioside levels are very low right now, so I won't get use out of them till they go in the garden away from Miracle Gro fertilizer. I plan to use little if any fertilizer in the garden, and any that I do use will be organic.

The basil still has potency despite the 'diluting' effects of the MG fertilizer, but I assume it will get a much better flavor once it is established in the garden.

Like I said, I am using the MG potting mix for growing young seedlings only, and I don't plan on using Miracle Gro products in the garden.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 10:01PM
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I also notice some of my lemon basil smelling like anise tonight. Mine is in raised beds, the ground, and in starter pots of coir. I don't know yet the percentage of lemon basil that smells like anise yet. So far my other basils smell like they are supposed to.

I don't think it's the dirt. I can't remember the brand of seed. I'll post an update tommorrow.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 11:30PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Most basil types will have the similar odor of anise. Its flavor, however can be different. Soil does have an impact on the smell and taste too.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 12:37AM
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I noticed that as the leaves mature, they take on more of a lemon scent. But some are just plain lemon...anyway, all my lemon basil did not survive the fertilized potting mix (they just kept getting burned till they died) so I've started some new seeds in Jiffy mix. I'll put them straight in the garden when they're big enough.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 10:47AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The ONLY fertilizer I use on seedlings is a product caled PHC for seedlings. The link below offers it. I ave been using this product for several years now and never have any issues with plants dying or getting over fertilized. Far better than any potting soils. I also do not use any peat pots as they tend not to break done well enough for the rooting. In fall, I would pull out the garden plants and found the cramped peat pots still holding in the roots.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seed starting fertilizer

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 11:50AM
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Many of my seedlings started fine in MG potting mix (with slow release fertilizer). Tomatoes, peppers, parsley, stevia, and basil all grew big, fast, and green in the mix. But the lemon basil got burned badly. Just a couple small, minor burns on a few of the sweet basil leaves, but the lemon basil just couldn't handle it at all.

That's why I've re-sown the LB in Jiffy mix with no nutrients. I'll just put them straight into the garden like I said, and hope they do well.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 2:40PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I never use MG of any kind, not even if they tend to call it 'organic', its not really. Harsh chemicals coated with wax slow down dissolving a little, but thats not good either. I use Gardens Alive Natural Beginings seed starting medium, mixed with Jiffy. My 3 week old brussles sprouts germinated 2 days after planting the seeds. The plants are now over 4 inches tall. Also started peppers, tomatoes, cantaloupe and watermelons seeds and these are all past 3 sets of leaves now. My flowering plants should start to flower by the end of May, especially the Petunias and Impatiens.

I even got some French Tarragon shoots that just sprouted outside where it was planted last spring. I was expecting to lose the Tarragon over winter, but its formed several sprouts and has expanded itself. I only hope it will come up next year, but I read someplace were true Tarragon has only 2 year lifespan.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 1:29AM
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I have never bought starter mix in my life, sofar!
I make my own seed starter mix. peat moss(1) + pearlie(1/4) + wood ash (1/2)+ garden soil(2)(fine screened and chunks removed). I can even skip peat moss if I have good compost that is aged and there is no fugal or bacterial activity in it by Drying in the sun(natural baking) and bagging. If I want to sterilize my soil, I make a small fire on it (well controlled), let it cool off. The ash also is made and mixed with steril soil. This is only for tiny
seeds. some seeds I can plant them in ordinary garden soil rich in organic matter and sifted compost.
You see, all the plants that we plant, they grow in the nature without any potting mix made by Miracle Grow (hehe). Of course those HYBRID stuff are different. All we try to do is duplicate and immitate the nature and improve the odds of germination and growth.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 6:56AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

My whole garen was covered with a clear plstc and allowed to bake in tghe hot sun for a month. That year, I planted nothing. The following year after tilling, I still saw insects, grubs, and weeds. Now, for weeds I use a big propane flame thrower that is used to burn away all sprouting weeds. Peat moss offers very little beyond some ariation and moisture control. With all the plants start from seeds indoors, rarely do I get any issues of damping off or any insect problems. Nature can be OK at times, but sometimes it also needs to be tamed down or adjusted to help tender seeds and plants from dying too quickly. I used to grow over 200 tomato plants per year. Originally I was using MG and when my sister tasted the tomatoes, she said they tasted like chemcals and were bland, so that was it for me. Once made into sauce, they were not my best. Around here there is no burning allowed. Years ago, my dad used to burn paper trash, but that is also banned. My flame thrower use, go a visit from the police and once the saw what I was burning they did say to not use that method much to get rid of weeds. Weeds here seem to flourish better than any seed I plant.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 11:33AM
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Looks like this has turned into a discussion on soils and fertilizers now...which I have put more thought into this year (my 2nd year growing tomatoes and herbs). I'll be growing some container plants in MG mix...while their fertilizers are not the best thing to feed plants that you eat, I wouldn't go so far as to call them "harsh chemicals." I use MG mix mainly on seedlings, but I'll also be using it on a few container plants this year, including cucumber (spacemaster), tomato (homestead), and pepper (habanero). The hab will probably get MG mixed with perlite for better drainage.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 2:08PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

MG has been shonw to kill tender seedlings and roots. all you need is a few of those small round pellets to open up too prematurly and then give off too much of something. MG might be fine on a lawn or for flowering plants, but for edibles its use is not very well received. Continue to use it if you want chemicals in your foods. Yes, they are mainly salts and are refined chemicals even in the ones mixed into some kind of potting soil. For new seeds to ferminate, they need light airy soil, with some very necessary moisture, as well as being sterile to prevent any infections from bugs or diseases. MG besides killing young seedlings, can cause all kinds of odd growth or lack it it when it comes to deliate seeds that are just sprouting. Ever look at a MG fertilizer alone, that all bluish green color? Its all crystals and they are surely NOT from nature!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 5:27PM
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granite(z6 NC)

And now back to the original question!

The seeds could have been a mix so you may have true lemon basil and another variety. Do the leaves look different as well as smelling different?

I say grow out the seedlings that survived and see what the mature plants look/taste/smell like.

As to the Miracle Grow discussion that has persisted...folks have very different allegiances to their choices for soils, fertilizers, organic vs chemical, etc and [obviously] can get rather pushy about their preferences. My personal preferences have migrated to organic; but I have not taken it to the point of buying only organic seeds and seedlings. I've used MG seed starting soil (was just fine) as it was the only choice on short notice. Never use Hyponex as in my experience its the worst crap ever. I've also used peat pellets and peat pots to start seeds...but I always take the mesh off the pellets and break open the pots so I don't have any problems with cramped roots on my plants.

Now if you really want to start a fight; put a few yankees and a few southerners in a room together and have them discuss BBQ techniques. LOL+

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 8:39AM
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ksrogers - I think they get the nutrients for MG fertilizer from mines in the ground. I have not had any plants other than lemon basil killed by MG potting mix. Everything else flourished and grew fast and green. No problems except with the lemon basil. And I will put them all in the garden eventually, so the worry about "chemicals in my food" will go away over time.

granite - The MG lemon basil all died. I re-sowed some new lemon basil in regular Jiffy mix, and they're on their first true leaves and hardening off. I don't think it's mixed seed; the lemon scent takes over the anise as the plants get bigger (at least I think it does).

My Sweet Basil, however, had some mixed seeds. I got some plants with smaller leaves and more tendency to branch out. The scent and leaves are definitely different from those of the regular sweet basil with bigger leaves. Both seem good, and I'm growing them both in containers and in the ground.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 12:43PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Maybe mined? But where do those bright blue green MG crystals come from? Looks like copper sulfate! The ferts that are small round beads are also chemicals and are coated with wax that reduce the dissolving some. I just don't add any of the man made granulated products, expept corn gluten, which is derived from corn, and used as a weed blocker in its early stage. Many things today are corn based. Starches, and even dissolvable packing materials are made from corn. Basil itself, no matter what kind, will always have the predominent flavor and smell of common basil anise, any other variety like lemon, cinnamon, and others will also only have a slight taste of the secondary flavor. You can't compare basil mixed with true lemon, because its 99% basil and just a trace of lemon flavor in lemon basil. For more lemon taste, adding lemon grass or other forms of lemon taste are necessary. With my fertilizers, and things like watermelon, a chemical fertilizer will not be very tasty in the watermelon.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 1:39PM
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Is it possible there may have been some anise hyssop seeds accidentally mixed with the basil seeds by Ferry Morris? Once your plants have developed their true leaves, you should be able to identify whether or not they are the same herb by the leaf shape.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2009 at 12:30AM
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I know this post was a long time ago, but if any of you who responded see this than great!
I was researching the science of smell for a guest and stumbled upon this forum where I noticed the conversation went towards Miracle Grow. I just want to warn you that I specialize in edible flowers and in my researching I have found that many plants that we eat actually will concentrate some chemicals in their leaves. I strongly believe that NO ONE should eat anything grown with chemicals. ...and as one of the remarks above quoted, "nothing tastes as good when it's grow with chemicals". As a matter of fact, Colombine ( a very herbatious and wonderful edible flower) has no taste at all when it is grown with chemicals. There are a lot of resources out there to learn how to grow the way nature intended. You are working with nature anyway so try it her way first. She's been around a lot longer than us! Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 7:15PM
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