The genus Ocimum is comprised of three dozen species of aromatic annuals and evergreen perennials and shrubs in the mint family grown for their scented, flavored leaves and, sometimes, for their colorful flowers. They are native to hot, dry areas of tropical Asia and Africa. Grow in an herb or vegetable garden, in containers, or in a border.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsAromatic leaves and flowers, often with culinary uses.
CareOcimum can be very susceptible to frost, so grow in a warm, sheltered site in full sun. It needs light, fertile, well-drained soil and ample water during dry periods. Pinch off flowers so that plants put their energy into leaf growth.
PropagationSow seeds where they are to grow in early summer, or in early spring indoors at 55°F.
ProblemsAphids may attack plants. Also susceptible to a number of bacterial and fungal leaf, stem, and root diseases.