Herb Series: Columnar Basil

If there were a popularity contest for the most beloved herb, do you think that Basil would win? It would get my vote every time, and several of you agree and have asked for tips on how to grow this herb that for me is synonymous with warm summer days and delicious tomato sandwiches. If you close your eyes can’t you remember how good it smells? Well I want to change things up a little and instead of talking about the gold standard of Basil, the Genovese variety that we commonly see in pots for sale in the grocery store, I want to introduce you to Columnar Basil if you haven’t encountered it yet. I’m always looking for veg, fruit and herbs that look fantastic in the front yard as part of the edible landscape, and this type of basil grows true to its namesake adding height and dimension to a flower garden. Unlike the Genovese varieties it isn’t an annual and doesn’t need deadheading. In the beginning of summer I don’t mind pinching off the flowers of my annual basil plant… I love the smell on my hands. By the end of the growing season, it gets old with all the other tasks at hand. As a perennial, Columnar Basil it isn’t fighting you all summer to go to flower and create seeds.  Sadly, it won’t overwinter for us in Colorado zone 5a but don’t let that stop you!!  When we are nearing our first frost simply cut some short stems off your plant, strip off all but the top several leaves and put them into damp soil in pots where they will sprout new leaves before you know it and you can bring them inside. Propagating them works very well! You will get enjoy Columnar Basil indoors in the winter and you will have them to replant outside next summer after the last frost date. 

Christina Manning Lebek