Plants Profile – Perennial Basil

This plant is invariably covered in bees and other pollinators.  No plant in my garden gets more visits than this one and it flowers constantly!

Also known as:

  • African Blue Basil
  • Ocimum killmanscharicum x basilicum
  • Dark Opal Basil
The long, attractive flower stalks are consistent, prolific and make a lovely edible garnish.

Growing conditions:

  • Tolerant of most soils but prefers well-drained soil
  • Grows up to 1.2metres tall and wide
  • Will tolerate some shade
  • Can be grown indoors in a brightly lit position
  • Suitable for garden beds, rockeries and pots
  • Needs protection from frost
  • Perennial in warm climates, annual in cool and cold climates
Perennial Basil loves raised garden beds and happily grows next to Native Basil. I have to prune it regularly to prevent it from taking over. The pruned stalks make propagation by cutting easy.

Propagation:

  • Seeds are sterile
  • Cuttings strike easily (soft or hard wood)
  • Cuttings should be kept moist (Not wet!) until established in soil
I propagate this plant in my propagation station where it continues to be visited by bees until it produces roots and is planted out. It only takes a couple of weeks.

Uses:

  • Cooking, as for any basil, has a mild flavour with slight hint of camphor
  • Pesto
  • Edible Flowers
  • Can be processed and frozen for use in the kitchen
  • Attracts pollinators and other garden friends

I originally purchased this plant from Mudbrick Herb Cottage because I liked the idea of fresh basil all year. It has delivered, but I still grow sweet basil for those dishes that need its pungent sweetness.

A Black-banded Hoverfly harvesting pollen.

During Wild Pollinator Count Weeks it’s the first plant I visit. It is a wonderfully positive beginning as I try to count and capture (with my camera) the numerous pollinators attracted to its prolific blooms. I haven’t managed to photograph the elusive butterflies but I have shots of various bees, hoverflies and other unidentified pollinators, as well as the spiders who opportunistcally set up their webs in hope of capturing the insects harvesting pollen.

This Golden Orb Weaver is a permanent resident in the Perennial Basil. No doubt it is taking advantage of the many insects who frequent its flowers.

It is a hardy plant, but not very tolerant of drought. Having said that, it only requires occasional supplementary watering to keep it going. This seems a small price to pay for the ecosystem services that it provides.

Wishing you edible blooms and pollinators aplenty,

Jane Grows Garden Rooms

References:

Mountain Valley Growers

Tropical Self Sufficiency

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