Typical Genovese Basils are bushy and grows to an average height of about 36 inches. The leaves are shiny, dark green and grows up to 3 inches long on a tall, erect plant that is slow to bolt. Small pink flowers will bud out in summer; pinch the new buds away if you want to harvest more of the leaves.
Italian Large Leaf (Basilicum), is a perennial but grown as annual in most of the region and grows best in zones 4-10.
- Kickstart the seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last spring frost.
- Basil prefers warmer temperature, wait until the soil has warmed to at least 50°F (daytime and night time temperatures). Basil grows best when the outside temperature reaches 70⁰F.
- Basil prefers full sun and grows best in a location that gets 6 to 8 hrs of full sun daily. They do well in partial sun locations as well.
- Soil should be moist but well-drained. Basil grows well in containers or raised beds, as these allow for better drainage.
- Companion plants: Tomatoes make great companion for basil plants in the garden.
- Basil plants like moisture, mulching helps cool the plant (during host days) and ensure even moisture.
- Pruning helps branches multiply and more harvest. Simply trim the tips after every six sets of leaves
- Every time a branch has six to eight leaves, repeat pruning the branches back to their first set of leaves.
- Start picking the leaves of basil when the plants reach about 8 inches tall.
- Leaves are most flavorful before sunrise, harvest early morning for the best taste. Pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer.
Pests / Diseases
Root Knot Nematode: Galls on roots which can be up to 1 inch in diameter but are usually smaller; reduction in plant vigor; yellowing plants which wilt in hot weather.
Control / Prevention: Plant resistant varieties if nematodes are known to be present in the soil; check roots of plants mid-season or sooner if symptoms indicate nematodes; solarizing soil can reduce nematode populations in the soil.
Aphids: Yellow leaves; distorted flowers/fruit; sticky “honeydew”; sooty, black mold that forms on honeydew; large presence of ants on plants.
Control / Prevention: Grow companion plants to either repel aphids away; knock aphids off plants with water spray, apply insecticidal soap; put banana or orange peel around plants; wipe leaves with a 1-2% solution of liquid dish soap, water every 2-3 days for 2 weeks.
Leafminers: Thin, white, winding trails on leaves; heavy mining can result in white blotches on leaves and leaves dropping from the plant prematurely; early infestation can cause fruit yield to be reduced.
Control / Prevention: Check transplants for signs of leafminer damage prior to planting; remove plants from soil immediately after harvest; only use insecticides when leafminer damage has been identified as unnecessary spraying will also reduce populations of their natural enemies.
Flea Beetles: Numerous tiny holes in leaves.
Control / Prevention: Use row covers to physically block flea beetles; mulch heavily; add native plants to attract beneficial insect predators.