Ocimum Species, Common Basil, Sweet Basil

Ocimum basilicum

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ocimum (OSS-ih-mum) (Info)
Species: basilicum (bass-IL-ee-kum) (Info)
View this plant in a garden




Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


Not Applicable

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Phoenix, Arizona(2 reports)

Sahuarita, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Conway, Arkansas

Solgohachia, Arkansas

Castro Valley, California

Elk Grove, California

Lawndale, California

Los Altos, California

Lucerne Valley, California

Merced, California

Mountain View, California(2 reports)

Oak View, California

Oakland, California

Sacramento, California(2 reports)

Vincent, California

Denver, Colorado

Pueblo, Colorado

New Haven, Connecticut

Ellenton, Florida

Eustis, Florida

Hollywood, Florida(2 reports)

Indialantic, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Loxahatchee, Florida

Lutz, Florida

Navarre, Florida

Port Saint Lucie, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Venice, Florida

Webster, Florida

Augusta, Georgia

Carrollton, Georgia

Honomu, Hawaii

Chillicothe, Illinois

Morris, Illinois

Georgetown, Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana

Iowa City, Iowa

Kansas City, Kansas

Central City, Kentucky

Ewing, Kentucky

Marrero, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Litchfield, Maine

Valley Lee, Maryland

Groveland, Massachusetts

Quincy, Michigan

Mathiston, Mississippi

Saucier, Mississippi

Blue Springs, Missouri

Springfield, Missouri

Silver Springs, Nevada

Greenville, New Hampshire

Freehold, New Jersey

Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Parsippany, New Jersey

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Bronx, New York

Brooklyn, New York

Deposit, New York

Ronkonkoma, New York

Troy, New York

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina

Swansboro, North Carolina

Monroe, Ohio

Vinton, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

Cranberry Twp, Pennsylvania

Scranton, Pennsylvania

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Conway, South Carolina

Greer, South Carolina

Clarksville, Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee

Lenoir City, Tennessee

Austin, Texas(2 reports)

Fort Worth, Texas

Houston, Texas(4 reports)

Katy, Texas

Kerrville, Texas

Longview, Texas

North Richland Hills, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

Waco, Texas

Castleton, Vermont

Cascade, Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

Jonesville, Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia

Palmyra, Virginia

Woodbridge, Virginia

Wytheville, Virginia

Bellevue, Washington

Spokane, Washington(2 reports)

Liberty, West Virginia

Morgantown, West Virginia

Volga, West Virginia

Muscoda, Wisconsin

Racine, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Dec 10, 2007, dryad57 from Scottsburg, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

We keep this in a container on our back deck, alongside the rosemary, and it thrives. The container is molded polystyrene, and I added the water absorbent crystals to help it keep from drooping in the drought this year. The weather did cause it to jump into bloom early and often, so a lot of pinching was required, but then we got some nice seeds from that at the end of the season. It did fine - morning to mid-afternoon sunshine. We like keeping it in that spot as we regularly pick fresh herbs to put on our grilled meat. With it about 2 feet from the grill, it makes for some very tasty hot dogs!


On Dec 9, 2007, Anitabryk2 from Long Island, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

Great container plant. Very tolerant of part sun. Cuttings root easily. I take cuttings and grow under lights during the winter. Wintersows well.


On May 28, 2006, HobbitHerbLover from Palmdale, CA wrote:

I planted this herb on the last day of April, 2006, and today is May 28, 2006, and already it is blooming! It is one of the fastest growing herbs in my garden, and with it's fine array of leaves and a tall crown of white blooms, I completely understand why it's name means "princely".

I live in southern California, and we have strong winds here. Unlike it's cousin Cinnamon Basil, it's single stem laden with heavy, enormous leaves bends greatly on a significantly windy day. I prop mine up with Chinese chopsticks and sometimes tie the herb to them with twisty-ties (laughs). And it is doing wonderfully! Of course, you can use a more conventional way of propping them up, if you so choose ; )

I have read that its strong, pepper-like aroma repells... read more


On Feb 1, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This herb is a must in my garden. I make a bruschetta topping with it that I learned how to make in Sicily. It consists of chopped tomato, olive oil, lots of crushed garlic and lots of chopped basil. Some folks add a few red pepper flakes. Best a day old. Serve on crusty bread brushed with olive oil and grilled.


On Oct 9, 2005, theinfamousj from Chapel Hill, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

Basil has been about the easiest plant that I've ever grown (aside from Aloe vera). I clip the growing tip to harvest, pull off the leaves I need, root the remaining bit, and then plant it back in the garden or give it away. I find that this keeps my basil plants under control.

Two quick notes about dry leaves:
1. You don't have to dry on the stem. I make a baggie out of tulle and hang it full of the larger basil leaves that I also strip when rooting up a tip cutting. They dry the same as they would on the stem.

2. When using dry leaves and you have to crumble them, grinding them between the heels of your palms does a much better job (or faster) than a mortar and pestle.


On Jul 5, 2005, Sweetvegan from Freehold, NJ wrote:

Pick off flower spikes early. Harvest before it bolts, otherwise the leaves turn bitter, which I learned the hard way.


On Sep 19, 2004, julie88 from Muscoda, WI (Zone 4b) wrote:

I've grown Sweet Basil in my herb pots for years. But until this year, when I picked some for my kitchen - put it in water on my counter and promptly forgot to use it - I didn't realize how easily it rooted. :-) Plain water, no special technique used, and a few days later...NEW plants!

A great way to begin learning about propagation...and tasty, too!



On Jul 7, 2004, knibblet from lamma island,
Hong Kong wrote:

The Chinese name for basil is 'jiu ceng ta', or 'nine-storey pagoda'. It is easy to see how it got this name when the plant is in full flower. It is widespread in Hong Kong gardens, a favourite of both local Chinese and foreign residents, used in many dishes. It is also reputed to be effective as a mosquito repellent, by simply squeezing the leaves and rubbing the juice onto your skin.

A small plant (unconfirmed type -- most likely Thai basil) found growing at the side of a dirt path was transplanted with massive success in our sprawling garden, and has re-seeded itself, with some human intervention (scattering and/or planting some seeds), across large areas, equally successful in the ground, potting compost, growing through cracks in concrete. One of the plants that flouri... read more


On Apr 25, 2004, careyjane from Rabat,
Morocco wrote:

Has anyone tried basil and raspberry ice cream..... ? A real delice!
Just one of the other many uses of this useful plant.


On Apr 24, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

Not only for insalata Caprice and pesto.... I use it with a mixture of other green herbs as part of salads and fillings for flour tortilla wrap ups.....

I make my pesto with macadamia nuts instead of pine nuts, since they are more readily available to me....in quantities so I can freeze it.

It propragates fast by rooting stems in water. At the moment I have 6 new ones and one so old the main stem is quite woody. Still wonderfully fragrant.


On Apr 23, 2004, MonkeyArcher from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

The other two foot basil 'bush' in the front yard. The only bad part was trying to figure out who to give a shopping bag of basil to every two weeks. Lived for years before a frost zapped it.


On Dec 5, 2003, art_n_garden from Colorado Springs, CO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Pesto!! One of my all time favorite pasta additions. very easy with your own plant. pine nuts, basil leaves, olive oil, salt, garlic, and a food processor.

Also, I always pick the flowers off of my basil plants-- they arent that pretty and sap the energy right out of the plant. it will grow much faster and bushier if you pluck them off the second they start coming.


On Jun 17, 2003, PaulRobinson from Torrance, CA wrote:

I find it amusing that the comments regarding this wonderful herb fail to mention its culinary uses. Basil, tomato, mozzaella, and olive oil (Italian "Ensalata Caprice") is a marveleoous example of Basil's wonderful flavor.

Easy to grow in average soil with ample water, full sun. Good as container plant. Very attractive to snails, etc. The foliage is an attractive bright green, making it pleasant to see in any garden. Flowers a very small, white, on short spikes.


On Aug 31, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

These plants, as well as oils from them, have received lots of attention for their potential medicinal properties. Of these plants, O. basilicum is the most widely used. It is used in cosmetics, liqueurs, medicines, and perfumes.


On Aug 11, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Most common type grown. White flowers. Bright green, 2 to 3 inch long leaves. Erect habit. Clovelike scent.