African Basil, Our Favorite Summertime Herb

We’ve  decided in my family that African Basil  (Ocimum sp. Hybrid) is our new favorite summertime herb.  It not only survived the heat, it thrived.  Most of our other herbs perished.  The other varieties of basil, some thyme, Cuban oregano and the rosemary were the other survivors.

We watered our African basil to get it established when it was first planted.  After it grew to a point where it  didn’t need any more help from us, we just let it be.  It has flowered profusely ever since.  I keep waiting for it to be done flowering, but it’s never done.  The extreme heat and humidity of our Florida summer hasn’t phased it one bit.  It still looks great.

African basil after a two-week drought and months of extreme heat and humidity.

The African basil always has honeybees all over it.  They bump into each other.  We have our African basil growing next to some concrete pavers and we just sit there and watch the honeybees work.  The kids love the “honeybee T.V.”.  That’s our reality television.  Are you wondering if we’re worried about getting stung?  Absolutely not.  The honeybees are doing their job of collecting pollen.  Sometimes a worker bee will get a little annoyed when I stick my nose up next to her so I can really study what she’s doing.  She will usually just jump to another flower if I’m bothering her.  It’s highly unlikely that a worker bee would sting when she’s out collecting pollen.

That's pollen on her legs that she's been collecting. She'll use it to make honey.

Female honeybees are the worker bees. The male honeybee's only job is to procreate.

Our African basil plants are providing the honeybees with lots of pollen for them to make food with.

We want to plant a whole lot more of this African basil.  It’s super easy to care for.  It’s not really a culinary basil though and we’re growing ours in a separate area from our herb garden.  When we first acquired the plant, we didn’t realize it was mostly for ornamental use.  However, it’s a shining star in our garden because it feeds our bees. 

This herb grows from  stem cuttings of an existing plant, not from seed like other basil.  African basil is a hybrid and has only been around since 1982 according to the UF/IFAS Extension Office

Basil is a warm-weather herb, but we manage to grow our African basil throughout the winter in our zone 9b.  It seems to be somewhat more tolerant of freezing temperatures than the other varieties of  basil.  I will make several stem cuttings of our African basil just in case.

Grayson has collected seeds from some very cool varieties of basil to plant in his basil garden.  He’s got it all planned out in his garden notebook.  He will wait until after winter to plant his basil garden though. Our absolute favorite herb catalog is Horizon Herbs, Seeds of Medicine.  We have to practice self-control when we open the catalog because we find so many seeds that we think we need.  It has great illustrations and tons of  information.  Love it!

Come grow with us!

2 Responses to “African Basil, Our Favorite Summertime Herb”

  1. My African basil always has honeybees, sweat bees, and wasps on it.

    • My bees seem to love basil flowers more than anything else… except maybe citrus blossoms. I’ve been growing lots of holy basil and mirhani basil. It has re-seeded itself all over my yard and I’m so thrilled about it.

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