Basil Dying? Downy Mildew? You Need Amazel

Aug 25, 2018 | Love This!

Imagine: “The basil has turned yellow again,” he said.
“I know,” she answered, “I asked about it at the garden center and they told me it’s a disease called Basil Downy Mildew.”
“Bummer,” he said. “What can we do?”
“This year, nothing…except make what’s still good into pesto,” she replied. “But next year I’m told we can buy a new variety from Proven Winners called Amazel.”
“Amazing!” he said.
“You got it,” she responded. “My mom always said that the gardener’s mantra is ‘Things will be different next year.’ If we plant Amazel, Mom will definitely be right.”
Name: Ocimum hybrid, Amazel basil

Type of Plant: A basil that is resistant to basil downy mildew, and because it doesn’t flower early in the season, produces more foliage in July and August than most plants. The plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide.

Why I Love/Hate this plant: Although I’ve learned to dance with basil downy mildew for our main crop of this herb, I recognize that many people won’t do what we do. For those who just want a few plants to cut fresh basil for their home grown tomatoes, or for making a batch or two of pesto, this plant is your answer to a harvest despite the downy mildew.

A Word to the Wise: How we cope with BDM: We watch for the first signs of the disease and when we see the lower leaves starting to yellow we harvest all the tops and make the leaves into pesto that gets frozen. The bottom eight to twelve inches of stems are left in the garden after harvest and sprayed with Revitalize by Bonide. These stems regenerate and regrow enough to produce some new, fresh leaves for us to use into the fall.

Here is a patch of Italian basil that is starting to show the yellowing leaves that are typical of downy mildew.

 

To confirm that you have downy mildew on your basil, turn the yellowing leaves over. If you see the gray, dirty look on the underside, you’ll know that it’s DM.

 

Here is the group of Amazel planted at the Mass Horticulture test gardens at Elm Bank. You can see the plants on the left are green and healthy, while the one plant seen on the side (not Amazel) is yellowing from downy mildew. This photo was taken on August 21st of 2018.

 

This is the Amazel plant in my herb garden. Although I’ve got plants that are failing from downy mildew in other areas, this plant shows no sign of DM even in late August. But best of all, it has the same flavor of my other Italian basil plants.

 

If your basil starts to look like this, cut the green tips asap and make them into pesto. Pesto can be frozen in patties on wax paper, and once frozen put into plastic bags for use all winter. Make pesto by putting washed basil leaves into a food processor and adding olive oil and garlic. (Garlic can be fresh or roasted.) If you want to add nuts or other greens, that’s fine too.

2 Comments

  1. Kathy Rinke

    I looked everywhere for Amazel this season with no luck. Sure hope it’s more readily availble in 2020. Can you buy seed ?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Seed isn’t available but ask at your garden centers that sell Proven Winners plants. Or go to the Proven Winners website and find out how to buy the plants there.

      Reply

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