Basil is grown for its flavorful leaves, in America we are most familiar with its qualities in tomato sauces, pestoes and salads, other ethnic groups have found many more uses for it. There are about 50 Basil varieties and some plants that are not true basil but are grown as such due to similar characteristics.
They have varying characteristics, some have a cinnamon or a licorice tone, while others are citrusy. Most have green leaves, a few are purple and various shades of burgundy.
About the Mini Basil Tree
An Israeli company [ Hishtil ] has developed a long living Basil Tree [ 5 year estimate] , which they claim produces a non stop harvest [In the right hardiness zones]. It is called very simply the Basil Tree. It is a grafted plant with a woody trunk, just like any other tree. It has a huge ball head of basil leaves.
Growth Habit: Upright
Plant Height: 1.5 ft.
Light: Full Sun
Temperatures: 45 to 55°F
It’s a small tree, that’s why they call it ‘mini basil tree’ some would say a shrub, and is easily grown in pots on balconies and patios. In summer, or warm climates it can be grown outdoors. In winter it is small enough that it can be placed on or near a window. Its aesthetic value is unquestionable either indoors or out, steady pruning is at times needed to maintain the ball shape of the crown, but if you use basil in any quantity this shouldn’t be a problem. If it produces too much, freezing and preserving basil is always an option. Unclipped the crown will collapse outwards and lose its ball shape along with some of its visual appeal. It shouldn’t be over harvested either, and must retain 2/3 of its foliage for continued vigorous development.
Using their own patented techniques, Hishtil grafted together two different basil varieties, they refuse to divulge what types of Basil were used in an effort to maintain their control over commercialization. The one strain has a sturdy woody trunk but undesirable leaves, the second has appealing medditeranean style flavorful foliage aka basil leaves.
The Basil Tree is more pest tolerant than standard varieties and also more drought tolerant, but quality wanes when subjected to dry spells.
I managed to acquire one and have been crafting it into a bonsai, so far so good, wish me luck :>
Tips – Care of Basil Plants
Water – Basil requires ample and persistent water. Mulch to retain moisture in warm weather is advisable.
Delicate flowers on Basil are attractive however they are a sign your plant is going to seed and production will decline at this point. If you are not looking to harvest seeds, you should pinch off any flower stems as they appear.
Temperature – Basil thrives in warm temperatures and heat. It will turn black and die off in temperatures approaching the mid 30°F. Temperatures should be at the very least in the 70s around the clock.
Optimal Growth Temperature 65 to 85°F
Germination Temperature 70 to 75°F
Pests and Disease
Basil has some enemies, Beetles, particularly Japanese Beetles, love Basil as much as people do and have been known to completely skeletonize whole plants. Aphids are also a problem at times. Most varieties are also subject to various plant diseases such as black spot, gray mold and fusarium wilt.