18 Types of Basil to Grow for Cooking & Medicinal Uses | Best Basil Varieties

Learn about 18 Types of Basil that you can grow in your garden and containers for their appearance, aroma, and culinary and medicinal uses!

If you’re a basil lover, you’ll love to grow these basil varieties. All of them are edible and perfect for growing in containers.

1. Sweet Basil

It is among the most popular basil varieties to grow and is used widely in cooking its tender, aromatic foliage. Ranging from green to purple the herb can attain a height of 12-18 inches. Read these basil growing tips.

Growing Tips:

Use fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. Grow it in a sunny spot and keep it well watered. It does not tolerate harsh cold weather.

2. Genovese Basil

The characteristic feature of Genovese basil is the flatter and pointier leaves. Also, the more aromatic and spicy flavor makes it a great ingredient in several Italian dishes and pesto recipes.

Growing Tips:

This variety is a bit cold tolerant and prefers 6-8 hours of direct sun. Well-draining soil with neutral soil pH is best for it.

3. Thai Basil

Popular in the cuisines of Southeast Asia–Thai basil has a touch of licorice with a strong flavor. The purplish stems and purple-veined leaves make it a showy plant. With time it loses its aroma, so use it fresh.

Growing Tips:

This plant is very susceptible to frost damage so move it indoors at the first sign of frost. This is also a sun-loving plant and requires moderate watering.

4. Napoletano Basil

Originating from the regions of Naples (Itay), its extraordinarily large leaves are used for wrapping poultry, fish or cheese. Add it to soups, sauces, fish and meat dishes as its a bit more spicier than a few other sweet basil varieties. It can grow up to two feet tall.

Growing Tips:

Needs full sun to flourish. In the growing season apply balanced fertilizer once a month. A light potting medium is suitable for planting.

5. Dark Opal Basil

Bored with the similar display of green foliage herbs? This exotic looking dark purple foliage basil can enhance the beauty of your landscape. Apart from regular culinary uses, you can steep it in vinegar or oil to add color and aroma to the dishes.

Growing Tips:

Place the pot nearby a sunny windowsill so that it can enjoy in the direct sun. Keep the soil evenly moist in the initial stage when the plant is establishing.

6. Christmas Basil

18 Types of Basil To Grow for Cooking & Medicinal Uses | Best Basil Varieties

It’s a mix of Thai and Genovese basil. The fruity aromatic flavor of this basil is somewhat like wine with a tinge of pine. Work it into pesto, sauces, salads, herbal dishes as well as in drinks and teas.

Growing Tips:

Ample watering with mulching around the base is what it needs. 65 to 85 Degrees F is the optimum growing temperature. Japanese beetles can skeletonize the whole plant, be on a lookout for them.

7. Lemon Basil

types of basil

Foliage is tender light green and plant grows 20-24 inches in height. It’s not as ornamental as other basil varieties but forms beautiful white spikes that are tall and appealing. Add lemon basil to the ice tea for warm lemon flavor and to it make it an invigorating drink.

Growing Tips:

Add a phosphorus-rich fertilizer in the first week of planting. Water daily but not so much that the soil becomes soggy. Prune it time to time to improve air circulation. Check out our herb pruning tips to learn more.

8. Lettuce Leaf Basil

The large wrinkled leaves of this basil resemble lettuce and are used broadly in salads and fresh dishes due to the mild and less aromatic flavor. Ideal for a lettuce wrap because the leaves are large, around 3-5 inches in size.

Also Read: How to Grow Lettuce

Growing Tips:

Beware of frost if you plant this basil outdoors. Sow the seeds 0.25 inches deep and space them 10 inches apart. Avoid using the fertilizer with high nitrogen content.

9. Lime Basil

types of basil

Just like the lemon basil, it is also one of the types of basil that is citrus flavored. Although, it is not as common as lemon basil. You can grow a combination of both lemon and lime basils as they make a great pair. It’s a flavorful cooking herb and you’ll many lime basil uses on the web.

Also Read: Lemon Scented Flowers

Growing Tips:

Choose a spot which receives around six of direct sun. Don’t overwater the plant. Install support such as stake if the plant gets too heavy.

10. Cinnamon Basil

best basil varieties

Mexican spicy basil is another name of this basil. Growing around 25 inches tall, shiny leaves and small pinkish-lavender and mauve color flowers make it an excellent choice for flower arrangements. Because of its spicy flavor and fragrant aroma, it goes well in fruit salads and garnishes.

Growing Tips:

Rich, moist and slightly acidic soil is optimum for planting. Space the plants 6-12 inches apart. Water routinely and avoid the soil from drying out completely.

11. Holy Basil

Also known as Tulsi, it is revered in the Hindu religion for its medicinal and spiritual characteristics. The leaves splashed with purple and green give this plant an appealing look. If that was not enough having it daily in the tea or chai will boost your immune system. Here are some of its fantastic health benefits! Learn how to grow it here.

Growing Tips: 

Grow it in a sunny spot. Unlike other basils, it tolerates drought and poor soil. However, for the optimum growth, water regularly and use light and well-drained soil.

12. Cardinal Basil

Learn about 18 Types of Basil that you can grow in your garden and containers for their appearance, aroma, and culinary and medicinal uses!

The noticeable feature of cardinal basil is its striking red flowers and spicy scent. That’s why it earns a well-deserved position in the ornamental gardens. It looks like celosia but still, you can use it in your kitchen in recipes.

Growing Tips:

Avoid planting it too early in the springs. Maintain moisture in the soil during the growing season. It prefers a warm climate and becomes a beautiful container plant.

13. Green Ruffles

Learn about 18 BASIL varieties that you can grow in your garden and containers for their appearance, aroma, and culinary and medicinal uses!

This list of types of basil can’t end without adding this basil variety. The ruffled and fringed leaves of this basil are very engaging. It bears spikes of large purple flowers, which make it well suited as the border plant. It can be used in salads, noodles, and pasta because of the mild flavor.

Growing Tips: 

It can tolerate a bit shady spot but still need part sun. Water persistently and mulch around the base so that soil retains moisture.

14. Greek Basil

Growing only up to 8 inches, it’s a small bushy variety of basil that is native to Southeast Asia. This type of basil is a nice option for those with a lack of space. The leaves are pointed and can be used in garnishes, salads, meat dishes or soups, and tomato dishes.

Growing Tips:

Exposure to direct sun or fluorescent light is necessary for optimum growth. During the dry spells keep the plant well-watered. In hot climates, keep it in part sun.

Also Read: How to Grow Asian Pears

15. Pistou Basil

One of the best short basil varieties named after a sauce made by using basil, garlic, and olive oil known as Pistou sauce. Although small, its evenly shaped leaves are still packed with flavor and are perfect for garnishing dishes.

Growing Tips:

Water moderately to keep the soil evenly moist. Move outdoors only after the last frost has passed. To encourage branching, pinch terminal shoots.

16. Spicy Saber (Serrata)

types of basil

As the name suggests, this basil is bestowed with serrated leaves which are saber-like and ornamental. Just a couple of leaves are enough to add a spicy note to the Asian gourmets. You can rely on this basil even late in the season as it remains productive.

Growing Tips:

Sow the seeds indoors and transplant after the passage of frost or sow directly in the garden when the temperature is warm enough. Provide plenty of light and water.

17. African Blue Basil

If there is a variety of basil which stands out among other basil varieties, this is the one. It grows up to four feet tall and has a fragrant, spicy aroma that wafts in wet wind. The enchanting beauty of this variety and its edible merits make it must-have basil.

Growing Tips:

Propagate it from cuttings. Remove dead stems and foliage and debris after the growing season. Beware of aphids, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, snails, and slugs.

18. Spicy Bush Basil

This is a compact variety of basil which grows in a bushy form as the name suggests. The leaves are intensely flavored, which its addition makes the soups and sauces more flavorful.

Growing Tips:

Plant in a good quality well-draining soil. Like other basil varieties, it also needs plenty of sunlight to thrive. To help it flourish you need to pinch it back.



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