Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Red Basil
Ocimum basilicum 'Red Rubin'

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ocimum (OSS-ih-mum) (Info)
Species: basilicum (bass-IL-ee-kum) (Info)
Cultivar: Red Rubin

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

15 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)
12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost
From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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5 positives
2 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral NicoleC On Mar 28, 2013, NicoleC from Madison, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

Has pretty purple foliage and the leaves have a spicy bite but they do now have much "basil" flavor. Recommended for ornamental use, but not purple pesto.

Positive saskboy On Jan 25, 2013, saskboy from Regina, SK (Zone 3b) wrote:

I use red rubin as an ornamental accent plant more than for culinary purposes. the flavor is a bit sharper than other basils, but it adds interesting flavor if used sparingly in salads or pestos. It tends not to be as large and vigorous as the more common green leafed varieties. It is quite compact and full if pinched when small. The color is very dark and more uniform than with either dark opal or purple ruffles. It need excellent air circulation or it will easily rot when in seedling stage. for this reason i would not advise growing it indoors, unless you have a large already established plant to bring in in the fall before frost. Ive also found this basil to be more frost sensitive than others.
But the color simply cant be beat, it looks fantastic in a mixed pot as an accent to hot pink, red, or lavender/lilac colored flowers.

Positive mrhank On May 22, 2012, mrhank from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Beautiful and interesting, but not the most vigorous in my opinion.

I grew four groups of Basils from seed this spring and thought I'd see how they stacked up comparatively. Genovese, Sweet, Red Rubin and Lime (not a basilicum... but another Ocimum species). Started them all on the potting bench in small seedling pots (dozens of 'em) and worked 'em up to larger pots and then into the gardens.

Only one Red Rubin has made it so far... but she's a beauty.

Bugs seem to love to eat the little seedlings down to the dirt while ignoring my other basils... but there are no bug issues at all with the surviving plant now.

My others basils are booming but Red Rubin isn't. It looks good and I'll grow it again because it is interesting and the colors are nice... but I don't think I'm going to get to have a red basil salad (as another commenter suggested). I think this might just be a symptom of my particular garden environment (humidity, insects, etc.) I seem to recall better luck in Illinois. Amazing how things do well in some places and just OK in others.

Looking forward to seeing how it makes through the whole season... and I'll try again next year.

Positive vossner On Apr 20, 2012, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Very aromatic, mine is potted in full sun and will be pinched often for a fuller plant. I treat it as an annual.

Neutral grrrlgeek On Aug 20, 2009, grrrlgeek from Grayslake, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Nice enough basil, but didn't keep it's color well for me.

9/12/09--Now has just about died off rather early, we did have a couple of nights in the 40's that adversely affected a couple of types of basil. Or maybe this one is just short lived. It was kept in full morning and midday sun.

Positive teachnkids On Jul 29, 2008, teachnkids from Johannesburg
South Africa (Zone 9b) wrote:

Having previously only grown green basil varieties, I was eager to try this purple type. I love it. It has been very easy to grow, and I believe that it is even more aromatic than the typical green varieties. My husband enjoys it so much he actually asked me to make a salad using the basil as the "lettuce." (While my husband always liked the other basil I grew, he never seemed that excited about it.) I haven't made the salad yet, due to the fact that this seems a little excessive to me. But, now that I know how much he enjoys this variety, I have been VERY liberal in my use of it. My two year old son also loves to eat the leaves straight off the plants.

I grew this plant in a couple of different locations this year. I have a pot of basil in full sun that looks magnificant. The leaves are all a deep purple/black color. I wanted to use this as an ornamental/usable plant in my blue and purple flower garden. I love the way the follage reflects the colors of the flowers in the garden. In addition, when I do let this basil flower, they are lavendar/purple flower spirals.

I ran out of room for my basil seedlings, so I ended up planting the remaining seedlings in with the tomatoes. The tomatoes have now taken over the area and hidden the basil. These basil plants get little to no sunlight. While they are not as big and leafy as my other plants, they are in no way a disappointment. Due to the fact that they get almost no sun, the leaves are green. However, all the veins in the leaves are still the deep purple color, making the leaves very striking to look at. I like to use these leaves, along with some of the others as garnishes. They make a very attractive, attention grabbing display on a plate or dish.

As someone else mentioned, it is important to pinch this variety back, as with all basil, in order to keep it from getting leggy. This produces a dense, round little plant.

Also, I found that Japanese beetles like to nibble on the leaves. Left unchecked, they would consume my plants. Interestingly enough, they don't seem to have found the basil under the tomato plants. I only have to keep an eye on my basil in full sun.

Negative nanabest1 On May 14, 2007, nanabest1 from Clarkston, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I purchased this plant and placed it in a pot indoors near a sunny window. I was told not to put it outside until frost danger has passed. It did not survive inside, it wilted and died within one week. Who can help?

Positive Suze_ On Jan 28, 2006, Suze_ from (Zone 7b) wrote:

An improved version of 'Dark Opal'. Among my favorite basils, both for taste and appearance. One of the more uniform colored purple varieties. As with most basils, keep pinching back throughout the season to keep plants compact and productive. The flowers (tall pale purple salvia-like spires) are just lovely, but if the plants are being used as edibles, best not to let them flower/go to seed until early fall.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Madison, Alabama
Clovis, California
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Grayslake, Illinois
Western Springs, Illinois
West Lafayette, Indiana
Urbandale, Iowa
Kansas City, Kansas
Clarkston, Michigan
Concordia, Missouri
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Valencia, Pennsylvania
Regina, Saskatchewan
North Augusta, South Carolina
Austin, Texas
Elgin, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Houston, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Radford, Virginia

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