While sweet basil is a popular choice for many, I encourage you to explore the distinct qualities of Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora)
this season. While sweet basil is a go-to for Italian dishes, Thai basil offers a more aromatic, pungent, and savory profile with a hint of licorice. It not only complements Thai and Vietnamese cuisines but can also add a delightful twist to your favorite Italian recipes.
Beyond its culinary appeal, Thai basil brings an aesthetic charm to your garden. With deep purple stems, vibrant green foliage, and striking purple flowers, it adds a visually pleasing element. For optimal growth, plant it in full sun with nutrient-rich, well-draining soil.
Wondering how to grow Thai basil best? I recommend starting it from seeds indoors for successful germination, ideally beginning the process 4-6 weeks before spring. Alternatively, if you're not cultivating large quantities, you can purchase 4" plants from a nursery. In my experience, obtaining large seed packets was beneficial when selling 4" plants at farmers' markets.
Positioning is key for Thai basil—it thrives in full sun, and anything less may lead to issues like mildew or reduced productivity. When provided with the right conditions and well-draining soil, Thai basil proves to be an easy-to-grow herb.
Surviving winter can be contingent on weather conditions. While it can endure milder climates, factors like excessive rain and deep freezes may impact its performance.
Thai basil is a perennial, differing from other basil varieties, but its perennial nature can be influenced by yearly weather conditions. When grown indoors, it leans towards a more perennial nature.
Considering letting Thai basil flower? While it adds an aesthetic appeal, if your goal is culinary use, it's advisable to prevent flowering. Flowering diverts energy towards blossoms rather than leaf production, and it's the leaves you want for cooking.
When it comes to harvesting Thai basil, you can either remove individual leaves or cut the main stem above a node. To ensure continued growth throughout the season, a good practice is to only remove up to a third of the main plant.