Monday, January 11, 2010

African Blue Basil

Ornamental Basil

Ocimum purpursecens x kilimandscharicum

'African Blue'

A very beautiful herb. Will flower when fairly young. Nice fragrance.

Perennial Basil - Two Great Varieties & How to Propagate Them

By Lisa Summerfield

Basil is known to be an annual herb, but some varieties like African Blue and Thai are termed perennial basil because they keep producing new leaves year after year. Both species are raised in tropical areas where the climate is warm and humid.

Warm, tropical zones can enjoy fresh perennial basil like African Blue and Thai all year round while areas with colder climates present some challenges when it comes to raising perennial basil, but it is not impossible if you keep it sheltered throughout the winter.

African Blue Basil does not propagate from seed. This hybrid cross produces sterile seeds but it is easy enough to propagate this type of perennial basil from cuttings. Simply snip off some tips, no more than 5cm long. It is important to strip away most of the leaves leaving only the top 2 or 3. Once the cut ends have been dipped into some rooting hormone these cuttings are simply pushed into some good quality potting mix in a container. I prefer to dip my basil cuttings in honey: it is not a root promoting agent but it is a fungicide.

African Blue is a great landscape plant and a must have in any herb garden for its color and fragrance. It produces attractive purple blushed flower spikes and makes an eye-catching display. You can also cut some African Blue basil for herb bouquets and for garnish at the table.

Thai Basil is another variety of perennial basil and is also known as Thai holy basil. It is an important ingredient of many Asian cuisines and has a more assertive flavor than the common sweet basil; its spicy aroma is a cross between cinnamon and aniseed and that is why it is sometimes referred to as "anise basil" or "licorice basil". This type of perennial basil grows into a vigorous bushy plants with pretty reddish purple buds and produces seeds that can be sown in spring for propagation.

Thai basil will grow to a height of two to three feet and after four full leaves appear, one can begin harvesting by pinching the leaves. Harvesting frequently and removing flowers gives the plant better growth as well as ensuring that the leaves will retain their fragrance and full flavor.

By providing the right conditions perennial basil will add beauty to your garden and delight your palate all year round.

Are you a first time gardener? Are you looking for resources to help you grow some herbs at home? L. Summerfield is a freelance Expert Author and garden lover who is caring for her herb garden. Confronted with little spare time and shortage of space L. Summerfield came up with some solutions in order to grow herbs easily. Learn more about perennial basil on her herb garden website. If you want even more information, subscribe to the free 10-part herb gardening email course at no cost.

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