Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Saturday, September 19, 2009

African Blue Basil

African Blue Basil

My favorite ornamental plant this summer ‘09 is the African Blue Basil (Ocimum ‘African Blue’). I bought it as a tiny plant, on a whim at the Ginter Botanical Garden plant sale in the spring. It is not really a culinary basil, as it tastes a bit too much like camphor - the plant has a sweet camphor scent (some sources say it can be used for cooking, but I disagree). However, it is a lovely, trouble-free ornamental for the sunny garden patch. My plant grew into a large bush over a few months, attracting many bees once the flowers began to open (and remember we are currently in a bee crisis, with colony collapse disorder, so we need to grow plants that keep these and other pollinators happy!). The leaves of the plant are green, veined with bluish purple, and the flowers are purple (and great in floral arrangements). The plant has continuously produced flowers with minimal cutting back and should do so until the first frost (it is the most cold tolerant of the basils). As a hybrid, the plant does not form true seed. So to propagate it, you will need to take cuttings. I highly recommend this ornamental- it is a pleasure!

Happy gardening!


Anita said...

THAT is a beautiful plant! I'm going to email the post to my husband.

Mary Ann said...

What a lovely plant. I am going to look into adding to my small herb garden. Thank you Judy

Judy Thomas said...

It is a great plant, pretty, trouble free, smells great, attracts bees, lovely accents in arrangements. I read some more on it and the flowers are used in mixed drinks and wine spritzers.