Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

Sweet Basil

Sweet Basil

Sweet Basil

Sweet Basil

Sweet Basil

Probably the most popular and widely used culinary herb, sweet basil is the best choice for Italian sauces and soups and for making pesto. Sweet basil, sometimes called “common basil,” is a tender annual, aromatic plant with a full-licorice flavor and spicy clove aroma. Harvest the top four leaves often to keep your plants growing and sweetly flavored.

Sun Exposure

  • Full sun (six to eight hours)

Soil pH

  • 6.0 to 7.5

Hardiness Zones

  • 2 to 10 as an annual
  • 11 as a perennial


  • Plant 8 to 18 inches apart


  • Water 1 inch per week
  • Keep soil evenly moist but not soggy


  • Grows 12 to 24 inches tall
  • Lush green, pointed leaves
  • Foliage size can vary from large lettuce-like leaves to very small leaves
  • Prolific growers in hot, sunny locations
  • Varieties include Genovese, Napoletano, Italian Large Leaf, and Lettuce Leaf
  • Can be grown from seeds and indoors on a window sill during cooler seasons
  • Great for any recipe that calls for basil—it’s your everyday basil!

Do you grow sweet basil? If so, please tell us your top tips for ensuring a bountiful harvest.


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