jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)January 2, 2014

Seems every year, I grow the most familiar kinds of basil. I always try to slip a new one in here and there, but, making those choices is hard when there are so many! I would be interested in hearing what varieties the rest of you have found to be tasty and different.

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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

I don't grow any exotic varieties. I love the ornamental qualities of the purple varieties, but the flavor is a little too much like cloves, and tends to overpower dishes. It seems I never have enough lemon basil no matter how many plants I grow! I use it to make jelly, and pesto too. I love the smell of the lime basil, but the leaves are very small and it takes forever to pick enough to do anything with it. I always grow some sweet or Italian for pesto as well as just using for cooking throughout the summer.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 12:26AM
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Shelley, I have that same problem so I just follow Bonnie's lead.

No, really! I think she has it figured out!

Amongst that multitude of choices, I seem to see only 3. There are the smaller leaf Asian, the sweet Italian and the purple - which I think of as African. I know, there are bush types, some of the purple might not be African, and there must be varying levels of sweetness with the Italian! It just helps with sorting.

Importantly, there are fusarium-resistant Italian varieties! They have made a world of difference for me to be able to have healthy plants and pesto!

I want that lemon Asian for salmon. Oh boy! Thai basil for my noodles. The purple Africans are just pretty! I want them in the flowers! People tell me that Opal basil is a very good choice for drying but I have never done that and imagine that using the fan method would still be a very good idea.

That's my 2 ยข worth.


This post was edited by digit on Thu, Jan 2, 14 at 8:38

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 8:35AM
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david52 Zone 6

I've tried several varieties, and settled on Italian Large Leaf. My daughter is a card-carrying pesto hound, and this variety is the most 'efficient' for producing large amounts of great tasting basil with the least amount of effort.

With enough nitrogen, water, and sun - the leaf is the size of your hand. Most of them are smaller than that, of course, but still larger than most.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 10:54AM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Mostly I grow Genovese basil and some Siam though I usually experiment with others.

Got an email from Burpee the other day which claims they have a no bolt Basil. The are selling 3 Bam basil plants for $17 probably plus shipping.

Here is a link that might be useful: no bolt basil

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 11:02AM
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Golden David

Anybody have any luck growing or even finding thai holy basil in the rocky mountain region?

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 11:03AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Always glad to see you back around here, Jali, and so happy for you that you have some dirt to stick your hands in again! (Will be interested to see your tomato choices for this year!)

When I was at Paulino's they always put the "left over" seeds out for the employees to grab whatever they wanted and I wound up with lots of different basil seeds--have tried many varieties over the years. (If anyone is interested, basil seed seems to retain its viability for a long time! Some of the seeds I still use go back to the late 90s!)

Starting at the top with HiAlt! I've never grown lime (sounds good) but I way agree about the small leaf varieties! I grew "dwarf bush" (Park) one time and the leaves were so small it just wasn't worth it! And it wasn't a nice plant as an ornamental either! But I've tried lemon (Ocimum basilicum citriodorum - Burpee) a couple times and that had very small leaves too, so I haven't grown it recently. Maybe seeds from somewhere else???

Digit, I haven't grown it for a few years, but I remember liking the Thai, and it seems to me it was a pretty nice ornamental too. I love the purples, but in my experience the "Opal" or "Dark Opal" was a less vigorous plant than the old standby, 'Red Rubin'. Does 'Opal' grow well for you?

David, I had the same theory on the large leaf ones that you do, but this past summer one time I went out and grabbed a couple of the big leaves to put on a sandwich, and when I took the first bite I got an overwhelming licorice flavor! Did not go at all with my sandwich, so I took it back off and replaced it with regular sweet! I had never noticed that before with the large leaf! I had 'Lettuce Leaf', Ocimum basilicum crispum from Pinetree--again, maybe seeds from elsewhere? I still have some of the seed you gave me for the pretty 'Swiss Sunset', and I grow that one every now and then too!

GJ, I hadn't thought about 'Genovese' for a while--seems I'm out of seed--but I remember that being a favorite when I had it! Guess I'll need to get more seed for this year! And those flowerless ones from Burpee sound really great, but I checked the shipping charges and it would be $6.95 for the three plants--that winds up being just under $8.00 for a 3" plant, and that's way too much for my budget. If you decide to get some I'd be really interested to hear how they grow--and if they really don't bloom!

I've also tried both 'Green Ruffles' and 'Purple Ruffles', two more large-leaf varieties, as much for ornamentals as anything, but the plants always wound up being really wimpy, if they grew at all!

I've grown cinnamon, 'Mexican Spice' (Seeds of Change), in the past and I think I really liked the scent of that one, but it seems to me the leaves were pretty small. I might put that one on the pile to try again this year!

I love to grow basil, but I don't actually use very much of it! Most of what I grow I plant in with the perennials as ornamentals, and I very much use them as Touch 'n Sniff plants whenever I'm near them! I LOVE the scent of basil! Most of what I grow goes to my neighbor who loves to make pesto--she gets most of my parsley too!

This past year I couldn't seem to germinate ANYTHING! I kept reseeding over and over and finally wound up with some sweet, a couple 'Red Rubin', and the lettuce leaf! (Never did get a new cutting celery germinated, and only got a couple parsleys very late, after MANY tries! WIERD year!)

I grow sweet every year! It's a pretty plant, and very productive. Comes back very nicely from hard cutting back to keep it from blooming. I really love the reds for the ornamental value, and always have a couple--or three--of them among the perennials. Of the different varieties, 'Red Rubin', the "old standby," seems to me to be the most vigorous plant, though 'Osmin' comes in a close second! When growing red basil from seed there's always the possibility of getting ones that are only "half red," or aren't really very red at all! There is a wide variance in the quality of the seed for red basils, and if you find a company with seed for consistently deep red plants, remember who it was so you can get more "good" seed!

I've also tried 'Napoletano', another "ruffled" leaf variety--and I don't remember anything about it! Guess that says something! So far I haven't found a ruffled leaf type that I've been happy with! They all, for me, have been wimpy plants that struggled to just stay alive! Since I use them for ornamentals I thought a ruffled one would be pretty, especially in purple, but I've given up on them at this point!

So I guess on my list for this year (IF I can get anything to germinate!) will be, sweet, 'Red Rubin', cinnamon, Thai, 'Genovese', and maybe some 'Swiss Sunset' again! That's six types! Don't really have all that much room! Whatever I grow, my neighbor will be happy!

GoldenGuy, welcome to RMG! You might want to check with Paulino's when it gets closer to spring to see if they still carry Holy Basil. There have been really major changes there in the last couple years so I don't know how much variety they still have, but they used to carry small (2 1/4") Ocimum sanctum plants in the herb department (which has/had the most variety and best quality plants in spring at planting time). I also googled Holy Basil (got better results than Ocimum sanctum!) and found that Horizon Herbs carries several different varieties of Holy Basil. Horizon is a small, and really good, company that carries just about anything you can imagine when it comes to herbs--and a buncha things you probably never even heard of! For getting seed that's true to what they say it is, I'd trust this company the most! Their shipping (for seed only) is very reasonable, and if you have any questions or problems, call them for friendly help! If you get and grow some of the Holy Basil, come back and let us know how it grew for you, and what you used it for. Would love a report on a "new" basil!


The days are getting longer, and it's time to seriously start thinking DIRT!


    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 3:26PM
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jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)

Thank you all for the input. Gee, I'm not alone in my frustration with little leaves! Whew! :) I do like lime basil, but not the effort it requires. I've never tried the cinnamon, and while tempting, would I really use it? Trying to think practically despite the temptations of the catalogs.

Now, Skybird, whatever gave you the idea I have been scheming about maters?? :D There are only nine definites on the list thus far! hahaha

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 9:11PM
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Dark Opal does just fine for me, Skybird. Some people complain about its variability but that just adds to its ornamental value for me.

I will say it again: the fusarium is too much for me to deal with! Lettuce Leaf is out. I go for resistance! Nufar & Gekofure are in. I know! But I didn't name them!

Siam Queen is also in.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 10:41PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Jali! Tomatoes??? Possibly!!!!! ;-D

Cinnamon basil would be good in anything with TOMATOES!

Cinnamon is great in tomato soup! Every now and then I get really in the mood for some "good old" Campbell's tomato soup, but straight out of the can doesn't do it for me anymore. A long time ago I started "improving" it by first sauteing some finely diced onion in butter, then adding the condensed soup (mixed with milk), and then adding a bunch of cinnamon until it gets to where I think it's "right!" (Easier to mix the cinnamon in some milk first--doesn't mix in as easily directly in the soup.) Then, when I put it in the soup bowl I add a big pat of butter on top and let it melt! YUM! It's really good on a cold winter nite! I add at least a little cinnamon to almost anything I make with tomatoes anymore. The two flavors really go well together.

I don't want to talk you into taking up space with something you won't use, but next time you make something with (canned--since it's winter!) tomatoes, add a little cinnamon and see what you think! If you like it, try a cinnamon basil, and in goes a little when you make something you want both basil and cinnamon in. The cinnamon basil really isn't that much cinnamon, and I'd probably still add extra "real" cinnamon!

I'm surprised, because of the experience I've had, that the Opal is working so well for you, Digit! With the color, yeah, I think the "variable" color ones can be pretty too, but that's what the 'Swiss Sunset' is, a red/green mixed variety. But when I'm growing one I expect to be red (purple!), then I expect it to be RED! I just don't like waiting till they grow up to see what color they're gonna be.

Fusarium? I don't worry about "diseases" anymore! I gave up after finding out that no two people will ever agree on "what's wrong" with a particular tomato plant--or lots of other things! If there's something I want, I try it. If it doesn't work the first year and it's something I really want, I try it again. If it doesn't work the second time (like the ruffled basil), I just decide that I didn't really want it after all! There are lots of other things to "want!" (But with your different climate up there, you might have a bigger problem! And if it's something you grow for the market, you can't really take as big a chance.)

When you decide which basils you're gonna grow, Jali, post a list for us.


This post was edited by skybird on Fri, Jan 3, 14 at 12:53

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 12:51PM
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Golden David

Skybird thanks for the helpful info. I started lurking RMG last summer as I built out the beginnings of a big veg garden at my new house in, surprise, Golden. I plan to nearly double it in size this year so hopefully I will be more active in this forum.

I had great success with normal genovese basil in a container last year, but my wife's appetite for pesto (and mine for thai food) is massive, so I plan to cultivate several more plants this year - probably will plant several amongst my tomatoes as helper plants.

Holy basil is impossible to find in asian stores around here, one can usually only find the siam type. Which is good but not the same. I understand holy has a very, very limited shelf life once harvested.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 3:15PM
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Welcome to RMG, Goldenguy!

Here is some of what the University of Minnesota folks have to say about fusarium wilt:

"Many varieties of basil are available for gardeners to choose from, and although they can all become infected with Fusarium wilt, they vary greatly in how severely they are affected by the disease. Sweet basil is one of the most susceptible varieties. This is the variety commonly used in Italian cooking. Spicy Globe miniature basil is also very susceptible and will be quickly killed by the disease. Some varieties of purple basil or lemon basil seem to tolerate the disease."

The problem mostly shows up on the stems and the plant can just drop over or break off near the ground level.

The article talks about resistant Nufar, a sweet basil but doesn't mention the newer Gekofure (I'm not kidding about these names!) a Genovese variety. There are more varieties coming out each year that can tolerate the stinkin' crud.

There are some good pictures and the article is about 2/3rds of the way down the webpage.


Here is a link that might be useful: Fusarium Wilt of Basil

This post was edited by digit on Fri, Jan 3, 14 at 17:55

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 5:52PM
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jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)

Happy to have you join our merry band, Goldenguy. Welcome!

Skybird, cinnamon basil has always intrigued me, yet, it has never made the list. I only grow two or three per year, and quite often, it is what seed I have on hand. A few years ago, I got a trial packet of Caesar from Harris Seeds and I really like that one. I think I will order some seed this year because it did so well. I tend to avoid the "clovey" ones, as Bonnie described them, because I just don't care for them.

I understand your concerns about disease, Digit, because you grow for market, but if I have a sick plant, I pull and bag it. Chances are strong that one won't be back again in my patch.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 9:04PM
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I have tried the big Italian basil, Genovese, which are fantastic for pesto. It is prolific and sturdy, loves haircuts, and the taste is lovely. It is my go-to basil.

I have also tried the Opal purple basil, which is a little more "strong" tasting, for lack of a better word. More spicy I guess? I use it mostly in sauces, as the clovey taste is too strong to be used as the sole ingredient of pesto. I might try mixing it with the Genovese for a little extra pesto punch.

Lemon basil (Mrs. Burns) is fantastic in Asian or fish dishes. I put it in my SPAM fried rice, and it is pretty good. (I know, it sounds terrible, but the salty spam, with sweet carrots and peas, with lemony basil, it it tasty!) Sometimes I like to stop my garden work and just sit and smell it.

I have also planted the globe basil, the one with the tiny leaves on my porch in a pot. Since it really is hard to pick the leaves, I just take whole branches, tie them up, and put the whole thing in with my pasta sauce while it simmers for a few hours. Holy yum. The leaves fall off and the stems are easy to fish out because you've tied them in a bunch.

I haven't had any problems with disease on my basil, just the random bug or two.

The cinnamon basil sounds intriguing! I might add it to my Pinetree seed company order this year. I am trying them for the first time this year. The prices are reasonable, and the selection is great. Plus they are in Maine, so I'm hoping if their stock is Maine-hardy, it will be Colorado-hardy too. :)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 12:59PM
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jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)

Pinetree is an excellent source for seed, LittleLizzy. I have ordered many seeds from them over the years.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:45AM
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I agree with jali about Pinetree. Steve/digit got me going on them. I see they have the Holy Basil seeds, so i might just have to try that one. There might be some extra starts at the spring swap.

The past couple of years we have harvested three different basils and put them all in the pesto together. Very smooth and even flavor..

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 4:22PM
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kvenkat(5a Colo)

I have a pot of holy basil (tulsi) growing as a houseplant. Got it this summer and it has been overwintering just fine. If you have any East Indian friends, they can usually get a plant for you. The plant is called Holy Basil because, for Hindus, the plant is associated with Lord Vishnu. I can probably get another plant if anyone in the Denver area wants one.

I have grown Thai basil which was okay but I did not use it for cooking. Genovese is nice but it has been awhile since I've grown it. Years ago I had a purple vatiety but do not remember much about it.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:42PM
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Thanks for the post! I have had mixed luck with basil, but last year had a couple of plants that took off fantastically. This year I was hoping to grow some from seed so I will also have to check out Pinetree.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 2:22PM
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Chellersm, and, welcome to RMG.

And, if you really want to go "basil crazy," check out the link below.

Steve ;o)

Here is a link that might be useful: Richters Herbs: Seeds

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 3:01PM
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jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)

Hi, Chellersm, welcome to the party!

Wow, that's quite a selection, Steve!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 5:30PM
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Steve, thanks and wow that is an amazing basil selection! I am really curious about cinnamon basil now after reading this thread, I'm going to have to think about ordering that. And I guess if I'm ordering some of that I should try a couple of others! ;)


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:30PM
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Anyone who is interested in the "no bolt" basil, Bam from Burpee: tried to order some today. They are sold out for 2014. Found some at Garden Life.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:35PM
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vegpatch(5 Colo)

My mouth is starting to water.... I hadn't though of basil jelly
I am trying Cinnamon basil for the first time and will definitely try it with some tomato recipes... am also wondering about apple/cinnamon basil jelly?? I'm lacking a bit of horizontal space.. so am planning to do quite a bit of vertical gardening especially with herbs...

Here is a link that might be useful: Vertical gardening

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 8:11PM
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jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)

Well, I decided on common, Genovese, Sweet Dani and African (which I ordered from Horizon Herbs after Skybird's recommendation). Good growing to everyone!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 5:58PM
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