Basil-Greek Columnar

  • Plant Type: Warm-season annual
  • Sun: Full Sun/Part Shade
  • Plant Size: 18 to 36 inches tall, 12 to 18 inches wide
  • Culinary Use: Fresh, dried, or frozen leaves for flavoring Italian or Asian cuisine

For small gardens and containers, Greek Columnar is the basil to try. Plants grow in columnar fashion, growing up and just slightly out. You end up with tall plants packed with flavorful leaves. Flowers rarely appear, so plants produce foliage all season long. Greek Columnar basil offers a complex flavor, blending traditional basil taste with spicy overtones of cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.

Plant Spacing: 9 to 12 inches. Plants Per Person: 1 to 2; 4 to 6 for pesto.

Secrets to Success »

Basil is a tropical plant, craving warmth, and very sensitive to cold. Plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed and when night temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees F. Tuck plants into fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. Fertilize basil with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food.

Trim basil in late spring to produce branched, bushy plants. Flowers don’t typically appear on Greek Columnar basil, but if you spot buds forming, remove them. Blooming stops new growth.

Harvest and Use »

Harvest leaves at any point after plants are established. Pick leaves in the morning, after dew dries. Leaves bruise easily; handle with care. Do not refrigerate harvested leaves. If you can’t process leaves immediately, cut entire stems and hold them in a vase or glass of water until you can process.

Greek Columnar basil offers a complex flavor that’s on the strong side. Some gardeners like it in pesto; others do not. Use it modestly to season dishes until you’re sure of the taste your family likes. Try this basil in traditional Italian dishes, sauces, and pesto. It’s also wonderful in Asian cuisine, like spring rolls and soups. Spicy leaves also add a delicious flavor to desserts and beverages.

To preserve basil, dry whole leaves and store in sealed containers in a dark place. To release flavor, break leaves just before using. You can also freeze basil, whole or chopped, in ice cube trays filled with water or olive oil. The flavor preserves best when frozen in pesto. You can also blend chopped leaves into softened butter. Store butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or form into balls and freeze on a cookie sheet. Store frozen balls in zipper bags, using them to flavor vegetables, pasta, and soups.

Try these garden companions »

  • Cilantro, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers to create classic pasta sauce.
  • Thyme, oregano, and onion chives for an herbal container garden.
  • Oregano, Juliet grape tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and mint to toss a Greek salad.
  • Parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and onion chives for a traditional herb garden.

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