Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Choosing Varieties of Basil Plants

Varieties of basil

Growing basil in your home garden is all about controlling and enjoying the growing process; being able to harvest and use fresh basil while it’s still fresh (not days or weeks old, like what you might buy in the grocery store); and saving money (store-bought fresh basil can be expensive, besides being not-so-fresh!).

But, first you have to choose your plants—and you have many choices of types of basil that you can grow in your garden. The key thing to remember is to decide what your goals are first:

  • Are you growing basil just for culinary purposes? Then, you’ll want to make sure you consider what types of basil you’ll need for your recipes and cooking.
  • Are you growing basil as a companion plant, to help other plants fend off pests or to spot watering needs in sections of your garden? If this is the case, you can choose almost any variety of basil that’s easy for you to obtain.
  • Are you growing basil for decorative purposes in your garden? Then, please consider some of the unusual colors and styles of both the leaves and the flowers when choosing your basil plants.
  • Or, perhaps, are you trying to achieve a little of all these goals—basil for cooking, basil as a companion plant, and basil to make your garden look great?

Whatever your goals, please check out our Plant Profiles section, to see which varieties of basil plants will best suit your needs.

What types of basil are you planning for your garden? What are your goals for your basil—are you planning to cook with your basil harvest? Please share your opinion.

  • Deborah S.

    I’m growing basil to help my tomatoes. I chose the purple basil because it wasn’t green… lol. I grew one years ago and used it I pasta salads and the purple leaves really added to how it looked. My mom always said “you eat with your eyes first” and stressed how important presentation is.
    I didn’t know there were so many types of basil. I learn so much from this group.

    • Norann O.

      I agree, purple basil is stunning in a salad but have you ever made it into pesto? Trust me, it looks like mud. So now I like to grow both green and purple varieties – purple for when I’m using it fresh and green for pesto .

      Happy Gardening!


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