Basil (Ocimum basilicum) was a sacred plant for many peoples in the antiquity. Its name comes from Greek "basileus", which means kingly or royal. Native from Asia and sacred for the Indians, it has now conquered the entire world.
Basil is an annual herbaceous plant that has about 150 varieties with various flavors (cinnamon, lemon, licorice, jasmine, anise, ...). It is also called "Saint-Joseph's-wort", "royal herb" or "great basil" among others.
There are 2 ways to propagate basil:
Sowing: It has to be done in a warm place, between March and May. Directly outside in the Mediterranean regions (when temperatures are higher than 20 °), or in a greenhouse and then transplanted outside into the ground as soon as the thermometer goes up (about the end of May). Seeds need about a week to sprout. But the best is to sow directly in the final growing place, because transplanting is not always easy to succeed. The easiest way to sow is to use the dibbling method putting 4/5 seeds in small holes, spaced 20 cm each, so that the plants are more resistant to the wind than if they were alone. Basil also grows very well indoors in window boxes (on a sunny window sill or near a radiator in winter).
Cutting: Under a branching point, cut a 8 cm stem and strip the leaves to leave only 2-3 leaves at the top. Then put the cutting in a glass of water near a window. After a few days, when the first small roots appear, it can be replanted!
Location / Exposure
This condimentary plant likes warm climates and can not stand temperatures too low. It is therefore recommended to grow it in containers because it is then possible to take it out in summer and to put it back inside before the cold arrives. It needs a well-drained soil, light and rich enough, but not too much. It needs potting soil but also sand. It loves sun and moist soil (hot head and cold feet), but not in excess, otherwise the leaves wither (in case of too much sun exposure) or rot (if the soil is too wet). It does not like strong wind neither.
It is necessary to water basil regularly but just at the foot of the plant to prevent leaves from rotting. The soil must be dry before the next watering. A good tip is to pinch the ends of the stems from time to time to avoid the appearance of flowers and focus the production of leaves.
Harvesting this aromatic plant can begin in the spring two months after sowing but usually in summer. It must be done before the appearance of flowers to preserve the aroma. It is possible to dry the leaves to keep them during the winter but they lose their flavor.
For being very sensitive to cold, it will be necessary to put it inside so that it can withstand the winter.