This year, along with lavender, I tested several basils in the garden. Below are four basils worth growing in your southern garden.
Two new culinary basils to tempt your palate
There are at least two new culinary basils in the marketplace created not to bloom early. If you want to grow basil that is basically the size of a small shrub, you should try Amazel Basil® from Proven Winners.
This is my second year to grow it, and I’ve found it to be a wonderful garden addition. Amazel Basil® isn’t just for the vegetable garden. It would also look great with other tropical plants in the summer ornamental garden. Sometimes, in my Oklahoma wind, Amazel Basil® does need a little support to keep from breaking off a stem or two. You could grow it in a peony ring or half of a tomato cage to give it support. All basils tend to be somewhat brittle.
I haven’t seen the basil plants for sale locally like other Proven Winners varieties, but you can order it directly from Proven Winners. I ordered several plants from them this year, and they also sent me trial plants this spring including the basil and Rockin’® ‘Golden Delicious’ pineapple sage. I’ll be writing about that golden pineapple sage in a future post.
Proven Winners’ plants were all extremely well packaged for shipping. I love shopping at my local nurseries, but sometimes, if you want something different, you need to go online.
Some basils are easy to grow from seed
Everleaf Emerald Towers basil is from PanAmerican Seed, so it can be grown directly from seed. I love this darling little tower of goodness. As of October 22, it has not flowered even in the heat. I am still picking fresh, tender leaves to put in Italian dishes, and I use it in my Thai Basil Eggplant recipe too. It would be beautiful at the front of any border because of its vertical growth habit. This one stays tidy throughout the growing season. I will definitely start more from seed next spring. I bought my seeds from Territorial Seed Company.
An All-American Selection Winner
‘Siam Queen’ Thai basil, a 1997 AAS Edible – Vegetable Winner, is just beautiful in the garden. It also tastes great, and I use it for my Thai recipes. But, the real reason I grow it is the flower heads. They are dark purple against the dark green leaves. I just love how it looks, and the bees love it too. This year, I grew several plants of ‘Siam Queen’ next to the lavender borders in the potager, and they performed really well. I bought seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and started them indoors.
African blue basil is one you can’t grow from seed.
After my friend, Gail Eichelberger, from Clay and Limestone, encouraged me to buy African blue basil for pollinators, I looked for it locally and online. I finally found plants from Lazy Ox Farm on Etsy. They came packed beautifully, and I planted them as soon as they arrived.
Annie’s Annuals also has plants and their website states that African basil is an accidental cross “between a tall East African basil and ‘Dark Opal’, ‘African Blue’ grows to 1.5-2’ tall when pinched for eating and a 3’x3’ bush if left to bloom.”
African blue basil is edible, but I grow it for the bees
You can definitely eat this basil, but I grew it for the pollinators. Honey bees, sweat bees, and small skipper butterflies adore this plant. Because it is sterile, it never sets seed. It just blooms all summer long. My plant is definitely 3′ x 3′ in size. I never see it without pollinators. I’m trying to take cuttings to overwinter in my greenhouse, but I’m not sure they’ve taken yet. If you love pollinators, you should grow this basil. Oh, and it shrugs off the summer heat.
Did my honey taste different?
Several people have asked me if my honey this year tasted of basil because of this plant. I don’t think so, but I have a lot of flowers blooming so my honey definitely tastes like wildflowers. I also wrote about African blue basil in my August Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post, and Claire Jones wrote about its culinary uses and lack of downy mildew in her Garden Diaries blog.
Four fabulous basils to grow
There you have it. Four fabulous basils to grow in your garden next spring. I know spring seems far away, but really, it isn’t. In February and March, we’ll be sowing seeds for the summer garden. Look for future posts on other plants I really loved this year.
One more thing…
On the Gardenangelists, Carol Michel and I dropped another podcast episode for your enjoyment. Listen on wherever platform you like on your phone or your laptop. Take us into the garden with you. We promise to make you laugh, and who doesn’t need a good laugh these days?
Also, if you think you might want to reduce your social media footprint, you can participate in our webinar for GardenComm on November 5 at 7:00 p.m. All of GardenComm’s webinars are open to everyone, but if you’re a member, you get a discounted rate. Although our webinar is geared to garden communicators, our ideas can be applied by anyone.
Wait, those were two things. Oh well, you get the idea.
Until next time, keep your heads up, spend a little time gazing at the sky today, and keep on gardening.