Sweet basil has been used for thousands of years as a culinary and medicinal herb.
The growing or dried plant is an effective insect repellent. It is a good plant to grow in the home, where it repels flies, or in the greenhouse where it can keep all manner of insect pests away from nearby plants. It has been used in the past as a strewing herb.
Basil is a perennial plant in the tropics, but it is frost tender and needs to be grown as a half-hardy annual in temperate zones. It requires a good hot summer in Britain if it is to do well outdoors.
It is a very good companion plant to grow in the house or greenhouse, its aromatic foliage helping to reduce problems caused by insect pests.
Sow mid to late spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually free and quick, prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. If growing basil outdoors, plant out after the last expected frosts.