Homegrown present idea: Greek basil topiary

Most topiaries are produced from one strong, upright stem of perennial plants and cut to shape, but Greek basil, also known as bonsai basil, produces clusters of small leaves that grow naturally into a dome. The leaves are only 1.5cm long (as opposed to common sweet basil whose leaves can reach up to 7cm long) and plants grow 30cm high by 15cm wide.

Words: Jane Wrigglesworth

You will need:
packet of Greek basil seeds (www.kingsseeds.co.nz)
good-quality potting mix that contains fertilisers and water-retention crystals

Greek basil is an annual and just as easy to grow as sweet basil. Sow seeds in trays of seed-raising mix for transplanting into pots when seedlings are big enough, or buy small plants from garden centres and plant in a pretty pot. If you want several plants, seeds are the way to go, but for last-minute gifts, buy plants. Transfer bought plants to their final pots. Apart from regularly watering, nothing else is required – the plants will grow into a ball-shaped topiary form all by themselves.

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