Lemon basil is very popular in a variety of cuisines, including Thai (maenglak), Italian, Laotian, Indonesian and Persian. It is known for its strong lemon scent.
Its official scientific name is Ocimum citriodorum and is a hybrid between basil (Ocimum basilicum) and African basil (Ocimum americanum). It has white flowers and grows to a height of 1.5 to 2 feet with a width of +/- 1 foot. The leaves are an oval shape, although a bit narrower than basil (Ocimum basilicum)and often with a toothed edge. White flowers grow on spikes when permitted to reach the flowering stage.
Do not allow it to reach the flowering stage during the cultivation period, as the flowers tend to take a lot of energy from the plant and will produce smaller leaves. The flowers (and two leaves below the flowers) should be removed to encourage the basil plant to continue to grow. The flowers can be used as a garnish with your lemon basil recipes. Seeds will form after the flowering and dry on the plant.
Have you grown, tasted, cooked with or had any experience at all with this basil variety? If you have, I'd love to hear about it! Share your experience here.
Growing Lemon Basil
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This basil, like it’s fellow basil plants, is a tropical plant. The direction for planting is much the same. For this basil to prosper, it needs two key things: plenty of sunlight and well drained soil.
The plants can be grown either from seed or as a live plant. Seeds can be started indoors in a shallow container. Seeds should not be planted outdoors until the threat of frost has passed and the nights can be trusted to stay above 50°F.
Spread seeds thinly and cover with 1/8" of rich soil. If you purchased plants, grow in rows 12" – 18" apart. Expect germination in one to two weeks. Keep in heavy sunlight, around 4 – 6 hours per day while keeping the soil moistened. Do not over-water!
Your plants are ready to move outside once they reach 2 – 3". Since the the root system is very vigorous, plant them 8 – 10" apart in well-drained (moist) soil. Allow the soil to dry out before the next watering. Keep the soil rich by using fertilizer and compost.
Make sure you nip off the flowers so that the plant continues to grow leaves versus flowers. When time to harvest, take the leaves from the top of the plant (or cut off the top 1/3 of the plant) and heavily fertilize the plant after each harvest.
Start Your Lemon Basil Experience
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Your Lemon Basil Encounter!
Have you grown Lemon Basil? Do you cook with Lemon Basil or have a favorite recipe? Share YOUR Lemon Basil encounter here!
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