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Lemon basil is a unique plant that has all the qualities of the basil culture and the aromatic properties of citrus fruits, which makes it a bright decoration for meat and fish dishes, desserts and pastries.
In many countries around the world, lemon basil is used not only as a seasoning, but also as the main component of dishes and side dishes.
This plant does not lose its valuable properties after drying or freezing. The use of lemon basil in food can significantly enrich the human diet with useful nutrients and vitamins. You will recognize perennial or annual basil with a delicious lemon scent.
Botanical description and growing season
Lemon basil is a type of basil culture, a spice plant from the Yasnotkov family, reaching a height of 30-40 centimeters. In horticulture, it is grown as an annual crop. Early maturing small-leaved variety with lemon flavor and camphor scent.
The yield reaches 300 grams from one bush. The plant is used fresh, dried and canned. Seeds have the ability to remain viable for 4-5 years. The growth period is 45-60 days. This variety is not frost-resistant.
The homeland of lemon basil is South Asia, Africa, China. The plant got to Europe in the middle of the eighteenth century, from where it spread to Russia by the beginning of the nineteenth. At first, lemon basil was cultivated as a bactericidal and anti-inflammatory agent, firmly securing its status as a medicinal plant.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, lemon basil was being used in vegetable canning and for decorating fruit desserts.
Lemon basil has a branched straight stem up to 40 cm high. The root system is moderately developed, compact, represented by a single white thin root with multiple ramifications. Leaves are lemon-green, light green, oblong, with jagged edges and sharp tips, covered with small short hairs, have a pronounced citrus aroma.
From the axils of the apical leaves grow two-lipped flowers of white or light yellow color. Long bloom, from 2 weeks to one and a half months. As a result of flowering, a fruit is formed, consisting of four nuts containing brown-brown small seeds.
In the photo you will see what this plant looks like:
Differences from other species and varieties
- The bright citrus aroma of the ground part of the plant is inherent only in this variety.
- The smell and taste make it possible to use only lemon basil in the preparation of desserts, berry and fruit dishes.
- Unlike bushy basil, which grows in the form of a large and lush spherical bush, lemon basil grows in the form of an elongated low bush up to 40 cm in height.
- Unlike Turkish basil, which has a sweet aroma and small leaves, and Mexican basil, which has a cinnamon aroma and large red leaves, this variety has a citrus aroma and leaves in the form of narrow ovals.
- Unlike Thai basil, which tastes like pepper and is red in color, this basil is light green and has a lemon flavor.
- Unlike wild and purple varieties, which have lilac flowers, lemon varieties have white or white-yellow flowers. For you, we have prepared an article on how green basil differs from purple.
- Cuban basil has mottled foliage, while lemon basil leaves are solid green in color.
Lemon, unlike all other types and varieties of basil, contains essential oils similar to those of citrus fruits.
Medicinal and useful properties
- Normalization of the cardiovascular system.
- Stimulation of the gastrointestinal tract by increasing the production of intestinal juices and enzymes.
- Pronounced tonic effect, increased mood, improved attention.
- Reducing blood cholesterol levels.
- Prevention of the development of cancer.
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Removal of muscle spasm, elimination of toxins.
- Strengthening cartilage tissue.
- Increase the plasticity of the skin by stimulating collagen production.
- Weight loss due to limonel, a component of essential oils that accelerates metabolism.
Chemical composition per 100 grams of product
- Caloric content - 27 Kcal.
- Water - 91 g.
- Carbohydrates - 4 g.
- Proteins - 3.7 g.
- Fat - 0.3 g.
- Unsaturated fatty acids - 0.04 g.
- dietary fiber - 0.6 g;
- sodium - 4 mg;
- potassium - 278 mg;
- calcium 16 mg;
- phosphorus - 54 mg;
- manganese - 0.89 mg;
- iron - 3.4 mg;
- selenium - 0.3 mg;
- copper - 237 mcg.
- thiamine - 0.03 mg;
- B2 - 0.076 mg;
- B9 - 76 mcg;
- ascorbic acid - 17 mg;
- tocopherol - 0.7 mg;
- phylloquinone - 414 mcg;
- niacin - 0.9 mg;
- choline - 4 mg;
- retinol - 265 mcg;
- B5 - 0.3 mg.
- Individual intolerance.
- Pregnancy and lactation.
- Elevated blood sugar.
Where to use and how to apply?
Lemon basil is used fresh, dried and canned. Due to its citrus taste and aroma, the range of applications expands with fruit and berry dishes, desserts and pastries, which is not typical for eating other varieties.
In its raw form, it is used to make salads, sandwiches, in pickled - as an ingredient in marinade, in dried form - for adding to meat and fish dishes, side dishes and sauces. Also, lemon basil leaves serve as a beautiful decoration for ready-made dishes.
Lemon basil goes well with:
- white varieties of fish;
How to care when grown outdoors?
- Temperature. Lemon basil is a heat-loving plant. The optimum temperature for growing is 25-28 degrees during the daytime, and 20-22 degrees at night. The seeds are planted in warm soil.
- Watering. The soil is watered as the upper layers of the soil dry up, keeping the beds moist, but avoiding waterlogging. Watered with warm, settled water (28-30 degrees).
- Shine. The minimum daylight hours are 7 hours. The planted seeds can be covered with a dark protective material until germination. With a lack of light, this variety will grow slowly and lose its characteristic aroma.
- Top dressing. The soil for growing this variety must be enriched with mineral fertilizers at least twice during the growing period - during the emergence of seedlings and at the beginning of flowering. Phosphorus and potassium fertilizers (superphosphate, 20 grams per 10 liters of water), wood ash or compost (1 bucket per bed) are preferred.
- Loosening. It is carried out after each watering, since the lack of loosening will lead to soil acidification.
- Weeding. It is recommended to carry out at least 2 times in ten days, weeds with a highly developed root system are especially carefully removed.
- Thinning. When the seedlings reach a height of 10-15 cm, they are thinned out to a distance of 20 cm between plants and at least 40 cm between rows of beds.
- Topping. It is carried out when the seedling has more than 6 true leaves. Thanks to pinching, the bush grows in width and will not only stretch upwards.
Features of home care
- At home, the temperature regime is better observed, which often leads to excessive overgrowth of basil. In this case, pinching and removal of emerging buds are regularly carried out to avoid unwanted flowering.
- It is required to carry out additional enrichment of the soil with mineral fertilizers, since the variety is picky about soil fertility. For planting, it is preferable to use ready-made soil.
- When growing at home, it is better to choose window sills than balconies and avoid air currents. The plant does not tolerate wind well.
- When grown at home, watering, thinning and loosening of the soil is carried out according to the same rules as when growing outdoors.
Planting and breeding
- Seeds are sown in April in seedling boxes to a depth of 1 centimeter.
- The distance between the rows is 5-6 centimeters.
- After sowing, the soil is lightly tamped and covered with a protective film.
- The film is removed daily for several hours during the warmest time of the day.
Seeds sprout in 14-16 days. Seeds are sown directly into open ground only in summer (from mid-June).
When the seedlings reach a height of 5 centimeters, they are transplanted into a greenhouse or open ground. Seedlings are planted in the ground no earlier than from the end of May, when the night temperature does not drop below 12 degrees. The landing site is chosen protected from the wind, well lit for most of the day.
Lemon basil propagates well by cuttings, for this, the cut parts of the stem are placed in water for 1 week, and after the roots appear, they are planted in the ground, which can significantly increase the yield increase.
Collecting greens is carried out when the stems reach at least 15 centimeters in length (from the end of July). The leaves are carefully separated one at a time, until 5-6 leaves remain on the stem, through which it will let lateral shoots. Up to 4 cuttings can be produced per season.
Blooming of basil is not allowed (the buds must be systematically removed), since in this case the leaves become tough and unsuitable for food.
The collected foliage is dried in the shade and outdoors, or whole bundles of basil are tied and hung from the ceiling. Dried lemon basil can be stored for up to one and a half years.
Where to buy seed?
The seeds can be bought in 2 gram paper bags at online stores or in gardening stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The price ranges from 13 to 28 rubles and averages 20.5 rubles. Seedlings are purchased mainly from private gardeners, the price for 1 seedling ranges from 15 to 45 rubles (the average price is 30 rubles).
When buying, pay attention to the appearance of the seeds (they should not be dry, not damaged, saturated brown-brown color). When buying seedlings, they check the integrity of the root system and the top of the plant.
Diseases and pests
Lemon basil is susceptible to damage:
- gray rot;
- black leg.
This is manifested by decay and gradual drying of the roots and leaves of the plant.
Control measures include following the rules:
- crop rotation;
- regular weeding;
- thinning and loosening;
- treatment with onion peel infusion or fungicides at the first signs of infection.
In some materials on the pages of our website, you will find a description, features of care and cultivation of different varieties and types of basil, including the purple Ararat variety, which contains a huge amount of essential oils and carotene.
Compliance with simple rules for the care and cultivation of this crop allows you to achieve a long and high yield in the garden, greenhouse and at home, it is beneficial to decorate any dish and prevent many infectious and chronic diseases.