A picture of a Red Basil

Red Basil

Ocimum basilicum var. purpurascens

Also known as

Ocimum basilicum 'Red Rubin', Basil, Basilie, Basiliekruid (Afr.)

Starr 070906-8882 Ocimum basilicum var. purpureum by Forest & Kim Starr (CC BY 3.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering


USDA zone


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

Red Basil Overview

Ocimum basilicum var. purpurascens is sometimes known as Ocimum basilicum 'Purpurascens', Ocimum basilicum 'Red Rubin', Red Basil or Purple-Leaved Basil, amongst other names. With its easy-to-grow, large edible reddish-purple leaves and its strong spicy flavour, Red Basil is a must-have for every windowsill and every herb garden. This plant has ornamental appeal due to the striking reddish-purple leaves which add a unique flavour to salads, herbal teas and other dishes. It typically grows to around 70cm in height. Not only is Ocimum basilicum 'Red Rubin' used for their culinary and ornamental appeal, but it also has medicinal properties.

Common problems with Red Basil

Red Basil Companion Plants

How to harvest Red Basil

Harvest the leaves regularly and remove flowers to concentrate the plant's energy on leaf production. Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds. Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored in an airtight container until the next season start.

How to propagate Red Basil


Sow seeds either directly in Spring or Summer or indoors 3 mm deep. Germination takes 5-10 days.


Take a 10 cm stem cutting from just below a leaf node from a stem that hasn't flowered. Remove the leaves 5 cm from the bottom end. Plant 5 cm deep. Keep moist or root the cutting in a glass of water!

Special features of Red Basil

Pot plant

Good container plant provided it has enough space to grow.

Indoor plant

Prefers to be kept indoors & can be grown in a container indoors provided it receives at least 6 hours of sun/high intensity light.

Repels harmful insects

Used as a companion plant to deter whitefly.

Attracts useful insects

Attracts insects such as bees.

Attractive leaves

Red leaves add interest to dishes and gardens!

Other uses of Red Basil


Red basil adds a unique flavour to salads, herbal teas and other dishes.