Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:58 pm
It’s not so easy to pick out your favorite variety within the multifaceted basil genus. The following overview presents recommended species and varieties for cultivation in the bed and on the balcony.
Classics with Mediterranean charm
Within the more than 60 wild species, we are particularly fond of the varieties of Ocimum basilicum. This species captivates with diverse cultivated forms, which are characterized by individual leaf and growth forms as well as a unique aroma:
- Genoveser: the undisputed top dog among basil varieties, with large, juicy green leaves.
- Rosso: scores with dark red foliage and an intense flavor
- a Foglia di lattuga: the Neapolitan classic with unmistakable curly leaves
- Big Green: develops a powerful habit and at the same time is well weather resistant
- Dark Opal: with purple leaves and a pink flower a real feast for the eyes in any garden
With their delicate leaves, the classics thrive preferably as annuals in the garden and on the balcony. If you want to preserve the incomparable aroma, you should pickle them freshly harvested, freeze them or dry them.
Trendy and perennial – Thai basil
The following species and varieties are in a flavor league all their own within the large basil family. Those who are not familiar with them tend to lump these species together under the name Thai basil. Yet they have quite remarkable differences:
Horapa: also known as ‘sweet basil’, convinces with a taste reminiscent of anise and licorice.
Bai Maenglak: aptly named ‘lemon basil’, enhances fish, drinks and soups, good for freezing.
Bai Kaprao: slightly warmed, it tastes of cloves and cinnamon, ideally suited for perennial cultivation
Basil from distant lands
Cosmopolitans among amateur gardeners will be interested in the following basil species from around the world:
- Russian shrub basil ‘Gorbachev’: white flowers on decorative red stems and a delicate flavor.
- Cuban shrub basil ‘Cuba’: with small, green leaflets and little urge to flower
- White variegated shrub basil ‘Pesto Perpetuo’: creates an enchanting eye-catcher with variegated foliage
- Red-green shrub basil ‘African Blue’: like all African basil species best suited as perennial plant
Tips & Tricks
With the basil tree (ocimum gratissimum), a species migrated to Europe from India that can reach up to 150 centimeters in height. Its leaves exude a pleasant clove aroma and at the same time are so robust that overwintering seems quite realistic.