Photo and description from Shannon Harker of Western Flora Co.
Latin name: Ocimum basilicum
Family: Mint family
Well known to pesto lovers as a culinary herb, basil makes a beautiful addition to summer floral arrangements too. Basil originates from warmer regions in central Africa and Asia. The name "basil" comes from basilius - the Greek basilikón phutón, meaning "royal/kingly plant.” Possibly because the plant may have been used in production of perfumes for royalty.
Basil comes in a wide variety of scents and colors - there’s a basil for everyone! Favorite ornamental varieties are Mrs. Burns Lemon (lime green and lemony scented). Cinnamon (purple stems and flowers with bright green stems with a cinnamon scent), Aromatto (clovey scented, with deep purple and green leaves), Red (incredible red flowers), and Amethyst (deep purple, almost black leaves).
For use as a floral addition to bouquets, farmers wait to harvest them until they have flowering spikes and woody stems - this prevents wilting. They still tend to wilt if they get too hot. A fresh cut into cool water and a quick 10 minutes in the refrigerator can help revive a wilted basil stem.
Basil is beautiful and easy to grow - well worth a home gardeners effort - it will reward you with a tasty garnish to a summer drink and beautifully complements any annual garden with its lush foliage and pollinator friendly flowers. Although edible, we never recommend consuming any of the bouquet ingredients - some bouquet additions can cause stomach upset if consumed, and we can never guarantee that flowers have been treated with the same high standards of food safety as food products.