My purple leafed Basil is turning green :(

Shufly(8 Coastal N.Car)June 7, 2005

Why are they doing so the ones i grew last year did not do this, does anyone have a clue as to what would cause such a thing to happen the plants were so pretty with the purple foliage..

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Kellianne(6B SE PA)

Hi, Shufly. I've had that happen to my purple basil, too. Some of the leaves just turn green. Sometimes, even some of the sprouts come up green when you start seeds. I think it's just one of those things that just happens sometimes. Sorry!


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 12:36PM
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Shufly(8 Coastal N.Car)

Kellianne i appreciate your response even if you did not answer my query as to Why the leaves lose their deep, dark purple color i'm hoping someone out there can tell me why i'm kind of leaning toward bad or faulty seed what say you ?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 1:58PM
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Kellianne(6B SE PA)

Hi, Shufly. Well, I'm sure there's a more scientific explanation for what's occurring with the basil, which I of course don't know. I just know that this happens to me as well, and not just with basil. Other purple (or other colored) herbs/plants revert back to green sometimes. Some are more prone to it than others. I don't think you have bad seed. Pretty sure it's just the nature of the beast. Good luck with your search!


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 2:21PM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

I assume that you are referring to the Purple Ruffles Basil Ocimum basilicum.

The following information is from Basil, An Herb Lover's Guide by Thomas DeBaggio & Susan Belsinger.

They state the following:

The plant results from a cross that Torrey made in 1980 of 'Green Ruffles' and 'Dark Opal'.

We grew 'Purple Ruffles' from four sources and discovered considerable variation in the plants produced. One seed sample was highly contaminated with green and green-purple variegated seedlings. Whereas most of our flats produced 130 usable seedlings, this seed produced only 16 true-to-name seedlings. Such incidents cause fears that the 'Purple Ruffles' seedline is drifting into extinction, but even as we write, a number of breeders are conducting rescue efforts.

OK, and then there are other "purple basils", some of which are Dark Opal, Osmin, Red Rubin.

In the above-mentioned book, it states the following about the Dark Opal:

The plant's hybrid parentage may cause its genetic instability when grown from seed; leaf color often varies from plant to plant and large numbers of pure green plants maybe be produced.

So if you grew it from seed that might be the cause. And I had a purple ruffles planted in the ground, and the purple leaves slowly died back only to be replaced by the green ruffles basil.

I'm not a botanist, so I can't explain it scientifically, but I think the bottom line is that when you grow hybrids they sometimes revert back to their parentage.

Anyone out there that knows more than I do, please chime in now.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 3:52PM
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Human-created plant species often revert back to the original - my lovely variegated rosemay has almost completely reverted back to the common rosemary. You can slow down the process a teensy bit by removing all the green bits. Purple Ruffles basil is a notorious reverter. Dark Opal stays purple a little longer. Note that the botanical name of the purple basils is exactly the same as for the common or sweet basil. (I'm no scientist, either, but it has something to do with the green genes being more dominant than the newly-created purple ones.)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 9:17PM
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Shufly(8 Coastal N.Car)

I am not referring to the ruffled leafed Basil as a Mr. Collins suggested, i do not think they are nearly as attractive.

I grew the same kind of herb last year and did not experience this problem .

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 12:55PM
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adchon(Ingham Qld Aust)

Ditto to all the above comments. Exactly the same is happening here (one plant is mottled).

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 8:37PM
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I've learned from personal experience, that highly colored/variegated hybrids like to revert back to their "natural" color (green) when they don't get enough sun. Is this basil planted in the same place as your previously "stayed purple" one was. If so, has anything grown in your yard that casts more shade? Some plants (like basil) are REALLY finicky about sun.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 1:18AM
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A year late (I just found this forum), but I have a Blackie Sweet Potato Vine plant with dark dark purplish leaves---- and they will turn green(er) if not enough sun.

Now to keep looking for more on purple basil. :)

    Bookmark   August 5, 2006 at 5:11PM
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I grow a large amount of Purple Ruffles Basil for my wholesale customers and plantings at restaurants. I have found that taking cuttings off the truly purple plants has, for me, only produced nice purple plants. When I seed, I cull the seedlings of any green plants ( they will grow quicker and taller than the purple due to the chlorophyll content ). Once I cull these and the others mature I then do a second culling and leave the deepest purple plants and use these to take cuttings from with very good results

Here is a link that might be useful: The Herb Garden

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 10:18AM
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greensage(above 11 (equivalent to 14))

I am aware that this question is old, but may be useful to someone. The reason why the the purple basils change color (from luxurious purple to disappointing green) is the excessive heat (above 25ðC).

I grow two varieties: Dark Opal and Osmin, the second being much superior (far better color and much more resistant to the bad effects of heat on the color of leaves).

For those who live in hot climate areas, the solution is to cultivate at the appropriate time, when the temperature is favorable (below 25úC).

Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2010 at 11:44AM
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I'm having the same issue and I also suspect it's heat and not enough sun (they were purpler in another spot and I think it's the plant trying to take in more sun via the green parts?).

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 4:46PM
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