17 Basil Varieties

Every summer garden should have at least one basil. These 17 are the best varieties we've found for pesto-making, container gardens, even for repelling mosquitoes!

By Ann McCormick

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Genovese
O. basilicum 'Genovese'
30"
White flowers on 6" stems
Classic basil flavor
Perfect for pesto lovers, reliable producer in many areas

Green Ruffles
O. basilicum x O. americanum
28-30"
Large ruffled green leaves, white flowers
Sweet basil with hints of anise and mint
Delightfully large lettuce-like leaves

Lemon, Mrs. Burns Lemon
O. basilicum x O. americanum
36"
Long smooth and green, 5-10" flower spikes
Distinctive lemon and basil
A must-have for gourmet cooks.
Self-sows easily in warm areas.

Nufar, F1 hybrid
24-30"
Dark green quilted leaves, pink flowers
Genovese type basil bred to be
Fusarium wilt resistant

Pesto Perpetuo
O. x citriodorum
24-48"
Green leaves with white margins and dark green streaks, no flowers
Strong "sweet basil"
Hardy to freezing temperatures, may survive winter in warm climates, columnar growth

Purple Ruffles
O. basilicum
28-30"
Purple with green variegations
Mild flavor
Wide variation in plants when grown from seed

Red Rubin
O. basilicum purpurascens
18-24"
Deep reddish purple flat leaves, lavender blossoms
Strong spicy flavor
Bred from 'Dark Opal,' more disease resistant, germinates easily, good for herbal vinegars

Spicy Globe, Spicy Bush 
O. basilicum minimum
12-15"
Compact plant with light green leaves and serrated edges
Strong spicy
Excellent for container gardens 

Summerlong
O. basilicum
12-15"
Light green, tightly packed on stem, resists flowering
Good pesto flavor
Heavy producer, rarely goes to seed

Sweet Green
O. basilicum
24-26"
Medium green slightly puckered leaves
Classic basil taste
Plants universally available, popular in the kitchen; repels mosquitoes

Thai, Thai Magic
O. basilicum
18-24"
Dark green pointed leaves, maroon cone-shaped florescence
Strong anise taste
Use in Southeast Asian cooking

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