About Purple Ruffle Basil:
Purple ruffles basil is one of the most popular herbs in the world. It grows naturally all over the world including North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Its name comes from its color which resembles a purple scarf or ribbon. There are many varieties of purple ruffles basil but they all have similar characteristics such as their leaves being small (1/4 inch) with 4 to 6 petals (3 to 5 inches long). They grow best in full sun.
Some purple ruffles basil plants produce edible flowers while others do not. The purple ruffles basil plant is native to the Mediterranean region and it is found growing along the coastlines of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. It prefers moist soil but can tolerate dry conditions if they don’t get too hot.
The purple ruffles basil plant produces a large number of purple flowers in spring. These flowers look like tiny pink hearts and they are called purplish heartflowers. They have a sweet fragrance and they last only for a few days before wilting away. You will see purple flower heads on the plants after the flowers die down.
It is quite a challenging task to grow purple ruffles basil plants. The following are some steps on how to grow a healthy and strong purple ruffles basil plant in your garden:
Sow The Seeds
Step 1: Prepare A Good Fertile Soil
Purple ruffles basil needs fertile soil with good drainage. Add organic matter such as leaf mold, compost or well-rotted manure before planting.
Step 2: Sow The Seeds
Sow purple ruffles basil seeds in individual biodegradable pots or paper cups. Make sure that the container has several holes at the bottom for drainage. Fill each container with a mixture of half-part peat moss and half-part sand. Don’t use potting soil because it does not provide sufficient drainage. The idea is to keep water from trapped underneath the seed which can cause them to decay.
Sprinkle the basil seeds on the top of the soil and lightly cover them with more sand and peat moss mix. Be sure that they are not buried too deep. Place the containers in a clear plastic bag to help hold in moisture and keep them at room temperature. If you use a plastic container to grow the seeds you can place them outside in a shady spot once the seedlings emerge from the soil.
Step 3: Transplant
After the purple ruffles basil seeds sprout, remove the plastic bag (or the container) and place the seedlings in a sunny location. Transplant them into individual pots once they develop their second set of leaves. Make sure that you place them at least 1 foot apart.
Step 4: Watering
Your purple ruffles basil plants will require regular watering. Drought can destroy your crop so it is advised that you water them daily or every other day. Be careful not to over water them because this will cause them to wilt and die. If the soil is allowed to dry out it will be easy to crack open, just poke your finger about an inch into the soil and if it feels moist then don’t water it yet.
Step 5: Fertilizing
Fertilize the purple ruffles basil plant every two weeks using a liquid fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. This will provide your plants with all the nutrients they need to produce bigger and better flavored leaves. Too much Nitrogen will cause excessive leaf growth and not enough will cause the leaves to be small and weakly flavored.
Pests and Diseases:
The main pest that affects your purple ruffles basil plant is the aphid. These tiny bugs congregate on the new growth and if left unchecked will cause the leaves to curl and twist. Sulphur dust or an insecticidal soap will get rid of them, but they often keep coming back so check your plants regularly.
Slugs are another common problem but you can eliminate them by sprinkling grit down around the base of the plant.
Purple ruffles basil can be harvested any time after it reaches a 6th leaf stage. Cut the leaves off at the base of the plant and they will grow back fresh and new. It is best to harvest the leaves individually as and when you need them because if you cut too many the plant will not have enough energy to produce more.
Make sure to keep the leaves away from direct sunlight and store in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for no longer than 7 days.
Your purple ruffles basil plant will keep on cropping for many months if looked after correctly. It is a very low maintenance crop that you can harvest over and over again as and when you need it.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding do not consume raw basil. The oils within the leaves may cause contractions in the uterus resulting in early labor. Cook the basil before using to be on the safe side.
This species of basil does not contain thymol so you can still use it in cooking.
One tablespoon of fresh basil contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrate with no fat or protein. It does provide a fair amount of Vitamin A, some Vitamin C and small amounts of Calcium, Iron and Magnesium.
It is an excellent source of antioxidants, specifically quercetin and rosmarinic acid.
Basil is also a good source of many different phytonutrients that are known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other health promoting benefits.
Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, basil can be very useful for people suffering from inflammatory conditions like arthritis, asthma and cardiovascular disease. It can also help to prevent cancer and control blood sugar levels.
Quercetin is one of the main antioxidant flavonoids and has been shown to help prevent heart disease and inhibit platelet stickiness. This could help to prevent heart attacks and strokes by reducing the risk of blood clots.
It also has a beneficial effect on respiratory disease by acting as expectorant to loosen mucus in the lungs and help you to cough it up. This makes it an excellent home remedy for people with conditions like bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
It is also known to have antibacterial properties that can fight off unwanted bacteria within the respiratory system.
Quercetin has also been linked to many different health benefits relating to the heart and blood vessels. It can help to prevent the build up of cholesterol in arteries, which can lead to cardiovascular disease. It also helps to lower blood pressure and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, which is good for people suffering from conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
During cooking some of the antioxidants and flavonoids within basil are destroyed, so eating it raw is preferable where possible.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits are greatest when the plant is consumed raw, although it is still effective when cooked.
Quercetin is not destroyed by cooking.
Other Health Benefits:
Antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiviral.
Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, good for cardiovascular system and respiratory system.
Common Diseases Prevented:
Cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, strokes, blood clots.
Common Conditions Treated:
Arthritis, gout, asthma, COPD, allergies, hay fever, cardiovascular disease, thrombosis, hypertension.
Due to its ability to lower blood pressure and promote blood thinning it should not be taken by people with bleeding disorders or by those who are taking other medications.
Quercetin has been linked to some negative side effects when taken in large quantities. These can include nausea, diarrhea and headaches.
Recent studies have suggested that large does of quercetin supplements could decrease blood testosterone levels in men and possibly increase estrogen levels in women. More research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.
There are currently no known negative interactions with other medications.
Sources & references used in this article:
Anthocyanins in Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) by WB Phippen, JE Simon – Journal of Agricultural and Food …, 1998 – ACS Publications
Anthocyanin inheritance and instability in purple basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) by WB Phippen, JE Simon – Journal of Heredity, 2000 – academic.oup.com
Retractable roof greenhouse production of basil (Ocimum basilicum) and lemon grass (Cymbopogon citrates) in a semi-arid climate by JB Nelkin, UK Schuch – … Symposium on Protected Cultivation in Mild …, 2004 – actahort.org