Perennial Basil: What is it and How to grow it?

Basil is the most popular of summer herbs. They come in different varieties, the perennial basil being one of them. Just like sweet basil, the perennial basil has many uses as well. Perennial basils are known because they can be seen whole-year round. Because of this, they may continue to be cultivated as garden shrubs.

The pink and white variants of perennial basils are known to flower all year round as well. This feature makes them popular as garden flowers too as compared to the annual types of basil. With constant pruning, perennial basil is a versatile that will develop thick foliage and pretty flowers that will add more life to your garden.

PERENNIAL BASIL AND ATTRACTING BEES IN YOUR GARDEN
Bees are the keys to success in pollination. For perennial basils, this may not be a problem since perennial basils are known to greatly attract bees. Bees love perennial basils! In fact, Plants and Pollinating Bees have mentioned perennial basils as of the most attractive plants for bees. (reference mentioned at end of article)

PERENNIAL BASIL AS AN EDIBLE PLANT
Perennial basil is said to have a similar flavor profile to sweet basil. However, compared to sweet basil, perennial basils are said to be stronger in flavor and a bit spicier. For the best flavor profile, it is recommended that young leaves be harvested. Unlike sweet basil, which tends to be seasonal in nature, perennial basils are present all year round, This makes them good alternatives to sweet basil.

Due to slight twist in flavor, perennial basil comes highly recommended as a good alternative to sweet basil in making pesto!

WHAT DOES PERENNIAL BASIL LOOK LIKE?
Perennial basil is a shrub with several branches and thick foliage. It usually grows to a height of approximately and width of 1 meter. The leaves are small and oval in shape. They carry with them a bright green color. The leaves of the perennial basil can be quite fragrant, especially when crushed.

Perennial basil is a flowering shrub. The flowers purple and white in color, arranged in long stems and found spread throughout the plant.

GROWING PERENNIAL BASIL
Perennial basils love sunlight! They will thrive in areas which expose them to partial to full sunlight. They may be grown indoors as well provided that they be placed in a spot which gets constant sunlight in order for them to thrive.

PRUNING
As mentioned in the introduction, perennial basis are in need of constant pruning in order for them to grow neatly. Otherwise, perennial basils have the tendency to grow in a haphazard manner. Pruning is recommended twice a year, usually during autumn and spring.

It is recommended that this plant be pruned to around two thirds of its present size in order to encourage flowering as well.

FERTILIZING
The use of mulch is greatly recommended for perennial basils as well as the use of organic fertilizers. A thick layer of mulch helps protect the plant during the change of seasons, especially since basils are not too fond of cold temperatures.

COLD WEATHER AND FROST
Perennial basils greatly thrive in subtropical climates. They do not do well in cold weather. Hence, during colder weather and in situations like frost, it is best to protect this plant. This can be done by adding a thick layer of mulch on top of the soil. Mulch helps protect the ground from reaching freeing temperature while keeping nutrients in the soil.

THE PICK OF THE PERENNIALS

GREEK COLUMNAR BASIL (Ocimum basilicum spp.)
This type of basil is great for small herb gardens due to its size. This type of basil will grow to a height of approximately 80 centimeters and a width of approximately 60 centimeters. They will grow upright making them quite easy to cultivate.

The leaves of this basil can be quite aromatic making them a perfect addition to a number of dishes.

PINK PERENNIAL BASIL (Ocimum basilicum spp.)
The leaves of this basil are green in color but with spots of purple to give them a mottled look. They leaves are quite small and covered in a bit of fuzz. This basil may be named as pink perennials although their flowers carry more of a lilac hue. With constant watering, the leaves turn out be quite succulent making them a good addition to salads. Without much watering however, the leaves end up to be quite pungent.

The strong flavor profile of this type of basil gives added life to otherwise boring soups, stews and sauces. When finely chopped, they add quite a zing to emulsions like mayonnaise and aioli.

WHITE PERENNIAL BASIL (Ocimum basilicum spp.)
Being true to its name, this type basil carries most of the characteristics of the pink perennials with exception to the color of its flowers. The flowers of this type of basil is white, as the name implies. The leaves are slightly different as they are larger and a bit softer as compared to the leaves of the pink perennials. The texture of the leaves make them a great addition to fresh salads!

IS BASIL A PERENNIAL OR ANNUAL PLANT?
Among all the herbs, the perennial basil stand out the most during summer seasons. This is because of the fact that basils thrive best during warm temperatures. It is because of this that basils are more commonly seen in Africa, the Mediterranean region and in countries which have tropical climate. In these regions, basils can be established and grown perenially.
As an annual plant, basil will grow from the seed stage to a fully grown plant with flowers and eventually die within a span of a year. However, given proper conditions, they can last to up to two years.

CAN I GROW BASIL ALL YEAR ROUND?
As mentioned previously, growing basil all depends on growing conditions. Climate and weather greatly affect the growth of basil. Along with other factors such as lighting, soil content, and water, basil may become perennial plants for as long as a proper environment is provided them.

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