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.
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.
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.
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!