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Know Your Basil

Basil comes from the Greek would basilikon, or "kingly. Most ancients considered it a sacred plant and could only be cut with gold of silver, never iron. Ocimum sanctum, or holy basil, is native to India where it was sacred to Krishna and Vishnu. O. basilicum, sweet basil, has been used in cooking since antiquity.Basil is by far one of the most popular herbs, noted for both its wonderful flavor and its lovely form and color.

Describing its flavor is not easy; sweet and pungent, it can taste of lemon, licorice, mint, even cinnamon! The plants come in many colors, from bright green to deep purple. Although it is grown for flavor, some are used as ornamentals. Most basils are native to Africa, Asia and India where they are grown as perennials.

The key to growing basil is warmth; full sun and warm nights. Basil does not do well if the weather turns cold, and only transplant into the garden once all danger of frost is past and the soil is at leas 60 degrees. Space plants about 2 feet apart. Water carefully as over or under watering can affect the flavor. Pinch back often to promote new growth and bushiness.


In 1985, Briscoe White opened The Growers Exchange in an abandoned Texaco station on a busy urban street corner in Richmond, Virginia. The facility has grown over the years, and is now 5 distinct growing environments with 5 acres under cover. Briscoe has over 25 years of gardening experience. For further information on gardening products or gardening tips please contact Briscoe White at

By: Briscoe White


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