Best Basil Varieties of 2018 – Pick Your Pesto

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Do you love basil but find yourself so overwhelmed by all the different varieties that you just stick to the classic version? Or perhaps you’re like me and have spent years hunting for an elusive yet perfect variety that you had that one time. This year, I bought several different kinds to try out so that I could share the result with you. So read on for my vote for the best basil varieties of the year, grasshoppers!

The Basics of Basil Varieties

And so it begins.

As long as you wait for warmer weather (above 50 degrees, generally speaking) and keep them watered, basil seeds will germinate within a week. I got my seeds from a variety of different places, but didn’t have any problems getting any of them to come up. These plants like warm, sunny growing conditions and need a moderate amount of water to keep them happy. They do okay in brightly lit shade but will grow a lot quicker in sunnier spots. I moved a few that were growing slowly in these areas and they’ve shot up.
The basil varieties I tried this year were as follows:

Mixed Basil

Mixed basil.

This is normally a good choice if you don’t know what you want. I did this a few year ago with an order from the now-defunct Bountiful Gardens and ended up with the elusive basil that I’ve been looking for ever since. This time around, I purchased a mix from an Etsy vendor. True to her word, they were mixed when they came up and even included some purple varieties. However, the classic Genovese basil has clearly outgrown most of the others, leaving a few purple tinged plants in its wake.

I’m not particularly a fan of Genovese basil because it has a very strong flavor and the ruffled leaves tend to trap dirt. It’s taken over the container, even after being trimmed back. The mix seems to be growing okay, despite the fact that it should probably be grown in full sun and it’s currently in a brightly lit part-sun/part-shade area. The downside is that these plants have been cannibalized by some strange leaf-eating bugs that have invaded my garden.

Lemon Basil

Lemon basil.

I’ve grown this variety in the past, only to end up with it in just about every container in my yard after it flowered. The plant persisted in showing up for several years after that. However, it hasn’t been back in awhile, so I thought I’d give it another try. After all, it’s a nice, mild flavored basil with a lemony fragrance and the leaves are straight so it’s easy to get the dirt off them if it splashes up during a rainstorm. This time around my seeds came from Burpee via Lowes.

Spicy Globe Basil

Spicy globe basil.

These heavily scented plants usually grow in compact, tidy clumps and they call my name every time I go to Lowes. However basil is very easy to grow from seed, as long as you wait for the warm weather to arrive before you plant it, so I thought I’d start my own at home. These seeds were purchased from Burpee via Lowes. I was surprised to notice that, within a month, the spicy globe basil seems to have outgrown both the lemon and Thai basil. The seed grown plant lives up to its name, with its spicy aroma and taste.

Thai Basil

Thai basil.

This stuff was on sale at Tradewind Fruit for $1, so I went ahead and added it to my cart along with a couple of other items. I was hoping it might be that elusive basil that I loved and was part of a mix. However, I don’t really think it is. It does have a similar, cinnamon-like fragrance. But so far, the growth habit isn’t the quite same. It’s nowhere near as tall as the elusive basil was.

Are you trying out any new basil varieties this year? How have they been doing in your yard? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

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About Lauren

Lauren Purcell is a freelance writer from Savannah, Georgia. She is the proud owner of two spoiled little dogs. Her hobbies include gardening (in case you hadn't noticed), cooking, traveling when she has money, and waiting on her key lime tree to produce fruit.

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