- Writer: Adam Russell, 903-834-6191, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contacts: Dr. Brent Pemberton, 903-834-6191, email@example.com
- Dr. Cynthia McKenney, 806-742-2838, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION – Basil is a popular backyard herb, and the newest Texas Superstar – Balsamic Blooms basil – represents an exceptional edible plant with ornamental qualities that make it a great addition to any garden, according to horticultural experts.
Balsamic Blooms is a versatile basil from new breeding lines, said Dr. Brent Pemberton, Texas A&M AgriLife Research ornamental horticulturist in Overton. The plant has attractive green foliage and deep purple blooms that make it a good choice for gardeners who want to incorporate edible plants to their landscapes and gardens.
Balsamic Blooms was named a 2017 Texas Superstar plant by AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturalists after three years of field trials around the state.
To be designated a Texas Superstar, a plant must not only be beautiful but also perform well for consumers and growers throughout the state. Texas Superstars must be easy to propagate, which should ensure the plants are not only widely available throughout Texas but also reasonably priced.
“Unlike most basils, the entire plant is edible so you can chop the blooms and sprinkle them on your salad to add some purple and provide a nice color contrast,” said Dr. Cynthia McKenney, ornamental horticulturist at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, a member of the Texas Superstar Executive Board. “The foliage can be used like basil in traditional cooking .”
For taste, Pemberton recommends gardeners harvest young flowers because bloom stems turn woody with age. Removing young flowers also encourages branching and reblooming, which promotes more leaves and flowers.
Leaves can also be rubbed to emit a spicy basil fragrance, Pemberton said.
Balsamic Blooms reach 18-24 inches in height and do best in full sun to maintain the colorful flowers, he said. Space plants 18-20 inches apart in well-drained soil. Keep the soil slightly damp while establishing the plant and then slowly add irrigation without letting it wilt.
Transplants are available in the spring in several pot sizes from 4-inch to 1-gallon containers, Pemberton said.
They are annual plants with the ability to continue to grow soft new foliage while continuing to carry the purple flowers, he said. The blooms and foliage are long-lasting.
Balsamic Blooms do not require pinching or other special care, though removing older flowers will keep the plant actively growing, Pemberton said. It is also pollinator friendly.
Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by AgriLife Research, a state agency that is part of the Texas A&M University System. Plants are designated Texas Superstars by the Texas Superstar Executive Board, which is made up of seven AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension horticulturalists.
More information about other Texas Superstar plants and a list of wholesalers and retailers who stock them can be found at http://texassuperstar.com/.
“Balsamic blooms perform very well around the state and with very little maintenance,” Pemberton said. “It’s a plant that is a beautiful ornamental and a great choice for culinary creations.”