Types of Basil You Can Grow in Your Garden

Basil is a plant used for gastronomic and medicinal purposes. What many people don't know is that there are many varieties. So, what are the types of basil you can grow in your garden?
Types of Basil You Can Grow in Your Garden

Last update: 10 February, 2021

All types of basil belong to the botanical genus Ocimum. However, the most well-known is common basil (Ocimum basilicum) which has both culinary and medicinal purposes. Beyond this, there are other interesting species of basil you can grow in your garden. Want to find out more? Keep reading!

First of all, keep in mind that this plant prefers warm summer temperatures. In fact, it tends to wilt soon at the first sign of low temperatures. Even so, it’s easy to grow and suitable for gardens of any size. We’ll tell you more in the paragraphs below.

The main types of basil

The plant species belonging to the Lamiaceae family have a long history as aromatic and medicinal herbs. Of these, the most popular are those of the genus Ocimum which we all know as “basil”.

In particular, according to estimates, there are more than 30 types of basil. Each variety differs in taste, color, and shape. So, which are the most popular types of basil you can grow in your garden? We’ll list them off for you and tell you a bit about each one.

Common basil

Its scientific name is Ocimum basilicum and it’s also known as “sweet basil”. Although it’s native to South Asia, it grows all over the world. According to a review by Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol, the plant and its essential oils have bioactive compounds that promote health.

These include polyphenols and flavonoids, whose antioxidant action is associated with the prevention of chronic diseases. In the kitchen, it’s a popular ingredient for preparing pestos, marinades, and salads.

A bowl of basil and garlic pesto.
Pesto is commonly made with basil in gastronomy all over the world.

Read also: How to Freeze Basil and Keep it All Year

Purple basil

This is one of the types of basil you can grow in your garden – it’s a derivative of common basil. Its scientific name is Ocimum basilicum var. purpurascens and it stands out for its characteristic purple leaves. The plant doesn’t grow very tall, as it won’t exceed a foot and a half in height.

A publication in Food & Function states that this variety is abundant in anthocyanins. It’s also known for its antimicrobial properties. Its uses in gastronomy are similar to those of the common basil.

Holy basil

Holy basil goes by the scientific name Ocimum tenuiflorum. It’s also known as tulsi and this plant can reach up to 3 feet in height. The leaves are purple when the plant grows in full sun; otherwise, they’re green. In fact, it has leaves of both colors.

According to a review published in Pharmacognosy Reviews, this variety of basil has compounds with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, cardio-protective, and analgesic potential. Although it’s often used in tea, you can also add it to other drinks, such as lemonade.

Bush basil

This type of basil is used for decorative purposes. As its scientific name–Ocimum minimum–suggests, this variety of basic stands out for its small size. In Asia, it has a long history as an aromatic and medicinal herb. In addition, these uses have spread to other parts of the world.

The plant produces essential oils that are abundant in eugenol and linalool, two substances with antimicrobial potential, according to an article in the magazine Molecules.

Genovese basil

Genovese basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese’) is popular for its applications in Italian cuisine. It’s a common ingredient in the preparation of pasta and pizza. It differs from other varieties due to its large curved leaves which are often used in the preparation of pesto.

The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported that this type of basil contains volatile oils with pharmacological qualities. However, you should only use them in moderation. Evidence of their safe dosage and efficacy is still lacking.

Cinnamon basil

The scientific name of this basil is Ocimum basilicum. Its name is due to the fact that it contains a substance which is also present in cinnamon and which gives it its particular aroma. The leaves are green, but some have reddish or purple tones. Although some use it for culinary purposes, it’s usually only decorative.

Lemon basil

Some types of basil are also hybrids. This is the case of lemon basil (Ocimum × citriodorum) which is a hybrid between sweet basil and the species Ocimum americanum. The plant doesn’t reach a foot and a half in height and has white flowers.

It’s usually used in Arab, Persian, and Thai cuisine due to its particular lemon smell. It’s a common ingredient in recipes for salads, soups, stews, or grilled dishes.

Basil is popular in world cuisine and also in natural medicine.

You may be interested in: A Basil and Sage Cleanse to Naturally Detox Your Kidneys

Types of basil you can grow in your garden

There are many species of basil, but almost all are used for medicinal and culinary purposes. They’re suitable for cultivation in gardens, although you should note that they don’t tolerate very low temperatures (below freezing).

They require loose and aerated soils that don’t retain too much moisture. However, they’re ideal for any garden, as they require little care, take up almost no space, and remain fresh for many months.

It might interest you...
Basil for Fatigue and Depression
Step To HealthRead it in Step To Health
Basil for Fatigue and Depression

Basil is an aromatic plant that people use frequently to give a little extra flavor to many recipes. However, this plant is also packed with medici...

  • Rewers, M., & Jedrzejczyk, I. (2016). Genetic characterization of Ocimum genus using flow cytometry and inter-simple sequence repeat markers. Industrial Crops and Products, 91, 142–151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indcrop.2016.07.006
  • Sestili P, Ismail T, Calcabrini C, Guescini M, Catanzaro E, Turrini E, Layla A, Akhtar S, Fimognari C. The potential effects of Ocimum basilicum on health: a review of pharmacological and toxicological studies. Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2018 Jul;14(7):679-692. doi: 10.1080/17425255.2018.1484450. Epub 2018 Jun 11. PMID: 29865879.
  • Fernandes F , Pereira E , Círić A , Soković M , Calhelha RC , Barros L , Ferreira ICFR . Ocimum basilicum var. purpurascens leaves (red rubin basil): a source of bioactive compounds and natural pigments for the food industry. Food Funct. 2019 Jun 19;10(6):3161-3171. doi: 10.1039/c9fo00578a. PMID: 31120462.
  • Zabaras D, Wyllie SG. The Effect of Mechanical Wounding on the Composition of Essential Oil from Ocimum Minimum L. Leaves. Molecules. 2001;6(2):79-86. Published 2001 Jan 16. doi:10.3390/60100079