What is lettuce leaf basil – how to grow basil with big leaves

If you adore basil
but can never seem to grow enough of it, then try growing Lettuce Leaf basil.
What is Lettuce Leaf basil? The basil variety, ‘Lettuce Leaf’ originated in
Japan and is notable, as the name suggests, for its enormous leaf size, giving
the basil devotee more than ample amounts of the sweet herb. While this basil
with big leaves doesn’t taste exactly like the Genovese varieties, it still has
a sweet basil flavor.

What is Lettuce Leaf Basil?

As mentioned, Lettuce Leaf basil is a variety with
extraordinary big leaves, up to 5 inches (13 cm.) long. The leaves are a
brilliant green and crinkled and look much like lettuce
leaves – hence the common name. Leaves are set closely on plants
that reach about 18-24 inches (46-61 cm.) in height. It has a milder basil
flavor and aroma but the extra large leaves more than make up for this.

Additional Lettuce Leaf Basil Info

The basil variety ‘Lettuce Leaf’ is a prolific producer of
foliage. To keep the foliage coming, pinch off the blooms and use them in
salads or as a garnish. Lettuce Leaf is also slower to bolt than other types
of basil, which gives the grower a longer harvest season.

Like other aromatic herbs, Lettuce Leaf basil repels insects
in the garden, naturally eliminating the use of most pesticides. Plant it near those
susceptible to insect marauders and throughout the annual or cutting garden.

The enormous basil leaves of Lettuce Leaf basil are perfect
for using in place of lettuce for fresh wraps, stuffing, layering in lasagna
and for making an abundance of pesto.

Growing Lettuce Leaf Basil

Like all basil, Lettuce Leaf loves hot temperatures and
needs consistently moist, rich soil. Basil should be planted in an area of full
sun with at least 6-8 hours per day.

Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks prior to transplanting or sow
directly into the soil when daytime temperatures are in the 70s (21 C. and up)
and nighttime temps above 50 F. (10 C.). Transplant indoor seedlings 8-12
inches (20-30 cm.) apart or thin seedlings started directly in the garden to
8-12 inches apart.

Keep the soil consistently moist but not sodden. Harvest the
leaves as needed and pinch
off blossoms to stimulate additional foliage growth.

Image FD Richards