My husband and I recently planted a large herb garden at our new homestead. I remember when we planted our herb garden at our old, smaller homestead.
We started the plants from seeds and just planted what we knew we would use.
Well, this time it was a little different. We moved later in the growing season so we had two choices. Wait until next year to start our own plants or purchase them from a nursery. We decided to go ahead and purchase them from a nursery so we could have our annual herbs for use this season, and our perennials in the ground already.
But was I shocked when I saw all the different varieties of Basil. I love Basil and use a lot of it, but we started with sweet Basil years ago, and I had never branched out from there.
Well, that changed this year. So I’d like to share the knowledge and let you in on the different varieties of Basil I’ve come across. That way, if you want, you can branch out in your herb garden too!
Here are the Different Types of Basil:
1. Sweet Basil
I’m going to start with what most people are the familiar with. Sweet Basil is your traditional style Basil that most of us use in our tomato sauces, pesto, in soups, and I use it a lot to make my own Italian seasonings.
So if you’d like to stick with what you know, then this variety of Basil is probably it. It grows well in really sunny and hot locations. So if you have full sun, plant it there.
2. Genovese Basil
This is a variety of sweet basil. It still has the classic look and taste of basil so naturally, it goes well with pesto and Italian cuisine.
But you’ll know the difference between sweet basil and Genovese because Genovese is flatter and pointier than traditional sweet basil. It also has a more aromatic flavor.
3. Napoletano Basil
This is another variety of the sweet basil. It still remains true to the traditional basil flavor, though it is a tad spicier than the other varieties of sweet basil.
Because of its traditional (yet spicier) flavor, it makes a great pesto. So if you want something similar to sweet basil but with a little more kick, then you might like this variety.
4. Italian Large Leaf Basil
If you come across a type of basil that smells and tastes a little sweeter, then you may have come across this variety. It is said to have a sweeter smell and taste than Genovese basil.
So because of this, it can still be used to make everything else that the other varieties of sweet basil can. If you have a sweet tooth, then you’ll probably love this variety.
5. Lettuce Leaf Basil
This is our final variety of sweet basil. It is one of the largest varieties of sweet basil and because of this, it makes it the most productive.
So this variety will be good for use in pesto or to use in oil. You could infuse oil with it, or you could use it in the oil that you dip bread in. Yummy! That is my favorite!
6. Dark Opal Basil
This basil is unique because of its dark coloring. You may have never considered adding herbs to your flower arrangements, but after reading this article, hopefully, your mind will change.
Because this variety of basil is a great one to use in a flower arrangement to add some color. You could also use it to add color to your garden as well.
7. Purple Ruffles Basil
This variety of basil is very similar to the dark opal basil. The main difference is that this variety is ruffled, but it carries the similar color.
So this variety is another good one to add to a flower arrangement or to use on your dishes as a garnish. It will definitely draw the eye to the plate with its beautiful rich color.
8. Lemon Basil
This basil variety is one that is more common. You can find it at most big box home improvement stores or nurseries. It looks like traditional basil but has a lemon flavor to it.
So because of this lemon flavor, it is great to include in both salads and fish recipes. Also, if you like lemon flavored iced tea, then you might want to add a leaf or two of lemon basil to get that lemon flavor naturally.
9. Lime Basil
Lime basil is similar to lemon basil as it looks like a traditional variety of basil. Yet, it too packs a different flavor. But instead of lemon, this variety of basil packs a lime flavor.
So the lime flavoring makes it great for both fish and chicken recipes. It also is great to use in a lime basil infused syrup. Then you could add it to your tea or margarita. But this basil variety is also very compact so it makes it a great choice for a small space.
10. Christmas Basil
This basil automatically sounds cheerful as most of us connect Christmas with fond memories and good times.
Which is exactly why I find the name appropriate because your mouth is going to be super excited when it tastes the fruity flavor of this basil variety. That flavor is what makes it such a good choice for an addition to a salad or a drink as well.
11. Holy Basil
This Basil actually has a unique history behind its name. This type of basil is one that is deeply respected within the Hindu religion. That is why it is referred to as Holy Basil, or also called Sacred Basil.
But you may also have more respect for this basil when you learn that it can be placed inside a tea and drank regularly to boost your immune system. Don’t you love plants that not only taste good but are good for you too?
12. Greek Basil
Some basil comes in smaller varieties. This is great news for people that don’t have a lot of space to grow things, or if they do container gardening.
Well, Greek basil would be a great addition to this environment because it only grows to be about 8 inches tall. This type of basil (though smaller) is still great for using in salads, meat dishes, or soups. It also makes a nice garnish or would work for ornamental purposes as well.
13. Spicy Globe Basil
This is another smaller variety of basil. It, too, works well for use in soups, salads, and pasta. But this variety of basil actually has a little spicier flavor to it.
So if you’d like a little spice in a smaller variety of basil that would also work well in your container garden, then you might like this variety.
14. Summerlong Basil
This variety of basil is a dwarf option. Because it is a dwarf it matures much earlier than other basil and is slower to bolt than other basil as well. It should produce within 30-60 days of planting.
But this variety is also great for container gardening as well. Especially since it grows into a small bush of basil.
15. Spicy Bush Basil
This variety of basil is another smaller variety that grows into what looks like a little basil bush.
So because of this, it is a great option to grow in a container. But don’t let the size of the plant fool you. It has plenty of flavors and would do well in sauces or soups.
16. Cinnamon Basil
This basil variety is one that is different than sweet basil but still familiar with a lot of people. A lot of the big box nurseries and home improvement stores carry this variety of basil.
But if you aren’t familiar with this variety, it has a spicy flavor and a sweet scent. It is a versatile variety as it is good for flower arrangements, garnishes, or to be paired with fruit dishes as well.
17. Sweet Thais Basil
This variety of basil is one that is less common. It is an Asian variety that packs a very distinct flavor that you probably won’t forget (in a good way.)
But it is a spicier option to the basil varieties. So if you like something different and a little spicier, then you might want to try this variety.
18. Green Ruffles
I love the name of this basil. It just sounds pretty. I can’t help but think of a little basil plant filled with green ruffled leaves.
So if you can ever get past the imagery in your head with this one, then you’ll also be glad to know that this type of basil has a milder flavor which makes it a great choice for pasta, but its ruffled leaves also make it a beautiful addition to a salad as well.
This basil makes me laugh because I live very close to a place that is called the same name, but I digress. This type of basil is a great option to cook with. It is also a great option using for décor or to be placed in a flower arrangement.
But it also has a distinctly sweet flavor with a hint of licorice. If all of this sounds good to you, then you might want to give this variety of basil a try.
20. Cardinal Basil
Cardinal Basil is one that is easily spotted. You will recognize it because it produces beautiful red blooms.
But don’t think that this variety is only good for ornamental use. It is also great for use in vinegar and oils because it has a spicier flavor.
21. African Blue Basil
This variety of basil is one that stands out for many reasons. First, it is one of the tallest varieties of basil because it grows up to 4 feet tall!
But this variety is also a perennial which is not the case with most other varieties of basil. As long as it doesn’t freeze, it will come back year after year. This variety of basil is great in flower arrangements because of its beauty but also works well in the kitchen too. It is great for rice dishes, meat dishes, and vegetable dishes too.
Well, you now know of 21 different varieties of basil. That is a far cry from a basic sweet basil, isn’t it?
But now you can flavor your food differently, add different items to your homemade flower arrangements, or add a little variety to your garden too.
Now, I want to hear from you. What varieties of basil do you grow? Which is your favorite? What is your favorite type of basil to cook with? What do you use basil for?
Please feel free to share with us! We’d love to share in the knowledge. Just leave us your comments in the space provided below.