Tuesday, June 23, 2009 4:45 PM EDT
Question: "When is the best time to plant purple basil? What about soil and location? Every season I try AGAIN to grow this herb but it just doesn't like what I am doing."
Answer: Basil is one of those herbs that like the heat and are very tender and sensitive to frost injury. Purple basils are more susceptible than other varieties to stresses in the early stages of growth. And, if the plants get chilled early in the season, they just never seem to grow well.
Basil's main requirement is a good supply of sunshine. Although the Purple Ruffles variety tolerates less sun than some of the other varieties, it still needs at least three to four hours of sun per day.
All basils need a well-drained, rich soil. Basil doesn't like to dry out completely, so it's important to water if you don't get regular rainfall. But remember roots sitting in water can mean certain death to most plants. So, be sure that your containers have drainage holes. Watering at mid-day, not in the evening, prevents mildew.
Though the Purple Ruffles variety has beautiful lavender pink flowers which are also edible, for maximum flavour you should pinch out any flowers that appear or the plant produces less leaves and the leaves begin to taste bitter.