I Love Basil ‘Pesto Perpetuo’

Dec 16, 2017 | Love This!

Name: Ocimum × citriodorum (aka Ocimum x africanum or Ocimum citriodorum) ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ aka variegated basil

Type of Plant: No matter what you call it, this is an annual herb that is both tasty and beautiful.

Why I love this plant: This basil grows tall (18 inches to 2 feet) and thin. It doesn’t flower and the pale green leaves that are edged in white are very ornamental. It is also as basil-flavor-filled as the green Italian basil, so it is perfect for cooking and garnishes. I have found that ‘Pesto Perpetuo’ isn’t very susceptible to basil downy mildew…it’s not impervious, mind you, but the plants are among the last to fall and make it through the entire summer for me, lasting longer than lemon or spice basil. Use this plant in containers or gardens…it can be used as a central, upright element in containers and in gardens looks best when massed.

A Word to the Wise: Like other basil plants, this one loves the heat. Don’t plant it outside too early in the spring…wait until the temperatures overnight are reliably above 50 degrees. Try not to get the foliage wet when the plants are watered. If you use overhead watering, don’t sprinkle the foliage too frequently.

Like other variegated plants, Pesto Perpetuo is beautiful when placed next to plants with purple or red foliage.

Here the variegated basil was planted with dark-foliaged ornamental peppers and some dwarf zinnias.

What a stunning border this was! Be sure to place several variegated basil plants together since they tend to grow tall and thin.


  1. Irene Seipt

    Hello C.L.
    Do you know where the seed for this impressive basil can be purchased??

    Thank you for all the useful information you so generously send out to us through various channels. You are appreciated!


    • CL Fornari

      Thank you, Irene. It means a great deal to me to hear this…thanks for taking the time to write.

  2. Brigitte Owensby

    Is the pesto perpetual organic and non-gmo

    • CL Fornari

      It is a non-gmo plant. How a plant is grown determines if it’s organic or not, so you’d have to ask about that to the people who are growing the plant or the garden center that sells it.

  3. Doty henry

    Where tod buy these seeds

    • CL Fornari

      Doty – you can’t grow this from seed. It’s a plant that’s propagated by cuttings.

  4. Jacki

    Do you need to prune this basil? I bought one that was a foot tall. This, too, is my favourite type of basil.

    • CL Fornari

      You don’t need to prune but if you use the basil over the summer you’ll be pinching the top pieces off to help branching. It’s a tall, thin plant no matter what.


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