Our lovely Wauchopian neighbour Meg gifted us a cutting of this perennial White Basil (Ocimum basilicum spp ) during Garden gate tour. We grow the African Blue basil at Booyong and love that it gives us and the bees basil all year round. The White perennial basil is a lovely edition to the herb spiral.
Growing – Perennial basil is a flowering shrub that grows to approximately 1 metre in full sun, leaves are bright green and oval in shape and very fragrant when crushed. This basil flowers from early spring to late Autumn.
Care – Mulch in Spring and Autumn , basil does not like cold weather and appreciates being fertilised to encourage growth.
Pruning – Prune back two thirds in Autumn and Spring to thicken foliage and encourage more flowers.
Companion Planting – Bees love the perennial basil flowers.
Perennial basils, repel aphids, asparagus beetles, flies, mites, making them good companion plants for veggies like tomatoes, beans, and sweet peppers, as well as for fruit trees. The leaves produce a strong scent and make a wonderful natural insect spray, driving away aphids, mites and bugs. To displace ants, add vinegar to the tea and pour the mixture down ant holes or in-between pavers.
Pests and Diseases – Basil is generally disease-free. The pests that attack basil include aphids, flea beetles, Japanese beetles, snails and slugs. Aphids excrete honeydew, and sooty mold grows on the substance. Cut off mouldy leaves and knock aphids off of plants with a hose.
Harvest – Leaves can be harvested all year round and it helps to pinch the tips to encourage several sets to grow. The flowers and young stems are also edible.
Similarly, to other herbs you can cut and hang up a bunch of basil to dry and store in a sealed, clean, sterilized jar in your pantry for use.
Propagation – Perennial basil can be easily propagated by cuttings, we just remove leaves from the bottom two inches of the cutting and place in a jar of water until roots form.
Health Benefits – Perennial Basil can be made into a cough syrup with honey and taken as an infusion for colds.
As a beauty herb, basil is an astringent deep cleanser for oily skins. Add it to the boiling water when steaming your face. A strong infusion combined with honey is an effective cough syrup and can also be taken for colds. The antiseptic properties of basil leaves helps to heal and relieve itching when rubbed on insect bites and stings.
Eating – Leaves are stronger and a little spicier than sweet basil and young leaves can be used in cooking (Salads, sauces, oils, vinegars and butters) and finely chopped and added to mayonnaise.
Similar to our Basil Mint post, you can make you can make Basil Pesto and Sugar Syrup
Basil Pesto Recipe – honestly here at Booyong we make pesto out of everything.
½ cup Nuts or Walnuts (chopped)
3 Garlic Cloves
2 cups of Mint Basil Leaves (tightly packed)
½ cup Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)
½ cup Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt
Add it to your Nutra bullet and blend, covering with a layer of oil in the fridge to keep it nice and green.
Basil Sugar Syrup
Dissolve 300g sugar in 150ml water over a low heat until the liquid takes on a textured look, (don’t overcook it till it turns to toffee).
Add a cup or so of fresh wash basil leaves, pop the lid on and let it cool.
Strain and store in a glass sealed bottle or jar in the fridge.
Lovely with soda water or in a G and T and a slice of lemon on a hot summer afternoon.