What Is Genovese Basil?
Genovese basil is a type of herbaceous perennial with a long history. It was originally known as “genus” because it resembled the genus Gynura, which includes many herbs such as thyme and oregano. However, when it came time to choose names for plants, the botanists decided to go with something less obvious (and thus more descriptive) than its common name. Thus they chose “basilica.”
The plant’s Latin name means “of or pertaining to the city of Rome,” and so it refers to the basilica where the plant originated. Its Greek name, gynastrum, comes from the word gyne meaning female and stamen meaning flower.
So genovese basil is a female basil that bears flowers.
How To Grow Genovese Basil?
Genovese basil grows best in full sun but tolerates partial shade if kept well watered. If you live in a dry climate, you may want to consider growing your own genovese basil since it does not need much water.
When to Plant Your Genovese Basil?
Planting your genovese basil will depend upon what kind of weather conditions you have experienced recently. For example, if there has been rain recently, then planting is likely to be delayed until springtime. In warm areas where there is less chance of frost, then you can plant in fall.
How to Plant Your Genovese Basil?
You plant your basil by digging a hole in the ground with a trowel, making it about twice as wide as the plant’s root system. You should also make it as deep as the root system, but taking care not to damage the roots.
You should then place the genovese basil in the hole, with the roots spread out in a way that looks natural and does not stress them. After this you need to backfill the hole, tamping it down gently but firmly around the plant.
How Do You Water Your Genovese Basil?
In the first couple of weeks, you should give your basil about an inch of water per week. If there is more than an inch of rain, then you should wait until the next week to water. This will prevent the roots from rotting.
After the first couple of weeks, you should give it about 1/2 an inch of water per week. Water it well but don’t flood it!
How to Care For Your Genovese Basil?
You need to prune your plant in the early springtime to keep it at the desired height. Cut away any dead or diseased stems. Don’t prune it all the way back to strong, healthy stems, and don’t cut out the center of the plant.
You should then cover the ground surrounding the basil with mulch. This will keep it healthier by preventing the sun’s harsh rays from beating down on it and drying out its roots.
In the fall, you can cover your basil with a light blanket to prevent it from freezing. You should not cut back on watering it in the fall or winter, as basil actually prefers wet roots.
How Do You Propagate Your Genovese Basil?
Genovese basil is easily propagated by taking cuttings from its stems. All you need to do is take a cutting from a stem that has several nodes on it. Take the cutting and root it in a glass of water. After several weeks it should have taken root, at which point you can transplant it into soil.
You can also save the seeds from your basil for the next growing season. Let the basil flower and then once it begins to turn brown, you can collect the seeds and spread them out to dry, after which you can store them for later use.
How to Use Your Genovese Basil?
The most common way to use basil is to add it to Italian dishes that call for fresh herbs, such as tomato sauces or pastas. It is not usually used on its own for dishes, but rather as an addition to other herbs or spices. Common basil cooking combinations include:
Other than using it in cooking, you can use basil as a natural pest deterrent. Grow it around the base of plants that pests are known to munch on.
Basil will keep flea beetles from attacking your cabbage and cauliflower, as well as repel aphids from your roses. It can also keep ants out of your garden by growing it around the base of plants that attract them.
Cautions About Genovese Basil
Although more of a precaution than a caution, you should always keep an eye out for pests in your basil. If you see any signs of insects, tiny insects, or other pests, take steps to get rid of them as soon as you can.
Common pesticides and insecticides will not work on basil, so be sure to use something organic that won’t hurt the surrounding earth.
Another caution would be to make sure that you don’t over water your basil. It is a common misconception that more water makes for a stronger plant.
In fact, over watering can be just as damaging to basil as underwatering, if not more so. Give it enough water to keep the soil moist, but no more than that. Otherwise, you run the risk of root rot and fungus, both of which are nearly impossible to treat.
If you are growing basil for the first time, or are considering growing it again, try growing Genovese basil. It is a common variety of basil that is widely used in cooking and has many advantages over other varieties.
With just a little bit of knowledge, you can grow it easily and without risk to yourself. If anything goes wrong, consult one of the guides above to make sure you’re doing everything right. Best of luck and enjoy your new basil!
Other types of basil: Cinnamon Basil, Purple or Thai Basil, Elephant Garlic Basil, and Lemon Basil. Click on the names to learn more.
Sources & references used in this article:
Effects of Nitrogen Fertilization on the Phenolic Composition and Antioxidant Properties of Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) by PM Nguyen, ED Niemeyer – Journal of agricultural and food …, 2008 – ACS Publications
Chicoric acid found in basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) leaves by J Lee, CF Scagel – Food Chemistry, 2009 – Elsevier
Omeprazole treatment elicits contrasting responses to salt stress in two basil genotypes by V Cirillo, MJ Van Oosten, M Izzo… – Annals of Applied …, 2019 – Wiley Online Library
Antibacterial effect of the essential oil of Genovese basil. by S Jelačić, V Raičević, I Kljujev, D Beatović… – Proceedings of the Fifth …, 2008 – cabdirect.org
Effects of oxidative stress caused by NaCl or Na2SO4 excess on lipoic acid and tocopherols in Genovese and Fine basil (Ocimum basilicum) by I Tarchoune, C Sgherri, O Baâtour, R Izzo… – Annals of applied …, 2013 – Wiley Online Library
Effects of salt stress on physiological and postharvest quality characteristics of different Iranian genotypes of basil by F Bekhradi, M Delshad, A Marín, MC Luna… – Horticulture …, 2015 – Springer
Phenolic acids and total antioxidant activity in Ocimum basilicum L. grown under Na2SO4 medium by T Imen, S Cristina, I Riccardo… – Journal of Medicinal …, 2012 – academicjournals.org