How to grow basil

Basil is a subtropical herb  and though you can plant it outdoors once the last chance of frost is past, it requires a sunny, sheltered position. Better, maybe to grow it in pots on a sunny windowsill. That way, you will extend its season by a month or more.

Image Credit: Pete Lewis

Types of basil

There are two kinds of basil plants: sweet (Ocimum basilicum) and bush (0. mini­mum). Sweet basil will grow to a height of l-2ft, and has large, shiny, mid-green leaves with white flowers, or dark purple leaves with pink flowers. Bush basil is much smal­ler, usually about 6-12in high with small, pale green leaves and tiny white flowers. As the name implies, it is bushy in habit. Both species have an equally delicious flavour but bush basil is the better one for window boxes or pots on windowsills.

How to Grow

Either buy small plants, or sow in a light, rich soil, planting out seedlings 5in apart at the beginning of summer. Water lightly and pinch out the growing tips to encourage a bushy habit.