Ocimum × citriodorum 'Pesto Perpetuo'
Common Name: basil 
Type: Annual
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Herb
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Fragrant
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Grow in St. Louis as an annual. Set starter plants of this patented basil ('Pesto Perpetuo' is non-flowering and does not produce seed) in the ground after last spring frost date. Plants are very sensitive to frost. Plants are best grown in moderately rich, humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. They thrive in warm, sunny, sheltered sites with some tolerance for light afternoon shade. Consistent and regular moisture throughout the growing season is required. Pinch out growing tips to encourage bushy growth.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ocimum × citriodorum is an unresolved name of questionable validity. Some authors list it as a synonym of Ocimum × africanum. Others list it as a species Ocimum citriodorum not a hybrid.

Genus name comes from the Greek name okimon for an aromatic herb, possibly this one.

Specific epithet means lemon-scented.

‘Pesto Perpetuo’ is a non-flowering, columnar basil that features aromatic, lime green leaves variegated with thin white margins. It was discovered in 2004 as a sport of Ocimum x citriodorum 'Lesbos'. It typically grows in an upright, bushy mound to 1-2' tall on square stems clad with opposite, ovate leaves (to 2" long). 'Pesto Perpetuo' is valued not only for its aromatic leaves but also for its ornamental foliage. For culinary purposes, leaves are used either fresh or dried to flavor a variety of food preparations, including not only classic pesto sauce, but also vegetable dishes, meat dishes, stews, soups and marinades. Fresh variegated leaves are attractive as garnishes. Fresh leaves may also be frozen for later use. Dried leaves are often used as an ingredient in potpourris. For ornamental purposes, the variegated foliage of this non-flowering annual makes this basil an extremely attractive foliage plant for garden areas and containers. 'Pesto Perpetuo' is listed as a cultivar of either O. basilicum or O. x citriodorum. U.S. Plant Patent PP16,260 was issued on February 15, 2006.


No serious insect or disease problems. Japanese beetles may attack the foliage. Watch for aphids.


Mass in herb gardens, border fronts, mixed gardens or rock gardens. Also effective as an edger. Good container plant.

Variegated leaves of 'Pesto Perpetuo' have substantial ornamental value.