Tips for Growing Spicy Globe Basil

Ocimum basilicum var. minimum ‘Spicy Globe’

This little basil beauty is named well: it has a pungent, spicy flavor, it grows in a globe-like shape, and it’s definitely basil.

It’s a dwarf strain that fits just about anywhere, including indoors in small pots.

A close up vertical image of a 'Spicy Globe' basil plant (Ocimum basilicum var. minimum) growing in a terra cotta pot pictured in light filtered sunshine. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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‘Spicy Globe’ is so attractive that it can be grown solely as a short-lived ornamental if you prefer not to eat it.

It kind of looks like a mini boxwood hedge trimmed into a round shape. I’ve actually used it to shape up my herb garden, which can look a bit more functional than attractive sometimes.

If you’re looking for something that grows quickly, looks cute, and tastes like heaven, you found it.

Or, if you want a basil plant that will do well indoors, this is it. To help you make this plant thrive, here’s everything we’re going to talk about in this guide:

‘Spicy Globe’ grows quickly, so there’s no time to waste with chit-chat. Let’s jump right in.

Cultivation and History

Basil originated in India, Iran, and southeast Asia, and we humans began cultivating it long ago. So long that no one is sure when it began exactly.

A close up horizontal image of 'Spicy Globe' basil (Ociumum basilicum var. minimum) growing in the home herb garden.

‘Spicy Globe’ was likely cultivated in Greece from a minimum variety of the basilicum species of basil.

This species is commonly called sweet basil, and it is different from holy basil (O. tenuiflorum), camphor (O. kilimandscharicum), and African (O. gratissimum).

It’s a dwarf strain that’s considered a Greek type.


Basil is so easy to start from seed that there’s little reason not to.

Unless you’re in a rush, lack the space, or can’t find seeds, propagating seed is the way to go. But, you can always buy a seedling instead, if you can find one.

From Seed

As an heirloom, ‘Spicy Globe’ grows true from seed. If you want, you can let your existing plant mature and produce seeds.

Our article on propagating basil from seed is an excellent guide that will walk you through the process.

Here’s a quick rundown of my method for starting seeds indoors:

Fill a couple of cells of a six-cell seed-starting tray with fresh potting soil, bury the seeds a quarter-inch deep, and add water.

Then I place the trays on a heat mat because they germinate best when the soil temperature is above 65°F, and I turn on some grow lights.

If you have a spot available in full sun and your house is nice and toasty, go ahead and skip the grow lights and heat mat.

I grow basil year-round, and that means sometimes I’m trying to tempt this heat lover into growing in my freezing cold basement in the dark of winter, so supplemental lights and heat are essential.

Keep the soil moist. After your seedlings have a few true leaves, once air temperatures outside are consistently above 65°F, you can harden them off and transplant them outside.

Or, you can keep them inside in a sunny window in trays or pots.

I usually move my seedlings into a larger container and place them in a west-facing window when they’re about a month old, and they grow fine even though it’s not technically a spot with full sun.

Otherwise, you can also direct sow outdoors after the risk of frost has passed.


If you can find plants in stores, or if you have seedlings ready to move out to the garden, transplanting is a snap.

You’ll want to prep an area about a foot wide by a foot long by nine inches deep before planting. Dig to loosen the soil, and amend with well-rotted compost.

Dig a hole in the loosened, prepped soil about the same size as the growing pot and remove the plant from the pot. Lower it into the hole, firm up the soil around it, and water well.

Basil doesn’t have a massive root system. If you decide to keep the plant in a container, anything larger than six inches across will do as long as it provides good drainage.

It’s tempting to put indoor herbs in a pot without drainage to make watering easier, but that’s a quick route to root rot.

How to Grow

If I were advising someone on starting an herb garden, it would absolutely include basil, and ‘Spicy Globe’ in particular.

A close up horizontal image of the rounded shape of a 'Spicy Globe' basil plant growing in the home herb garden.

I have to imagine that it isn’t just the flavor that makes basil one of the most popular plants in the home garden. The ease of raising this herb must factor in as well.

The usual basil rules apply here: this cultivar needs full sun, lots of water, and regular feeding with balanced, mild fertilizer if you grow it as a perennial.

But let me be a bit more specific.

These plants need full sun, but you can provide a little protection throughout the hottest part of the day if you live somewhere hot and dry.

A close up horizontal image of the foliage of 'Spicy Globe' basil (Ocimum basilicum var. minimum) growing in the garden pictured on a soft focus background.

The soil should be consistently moist. That means it should always feel like a well-wrung-out sponge.

If you stick your finger into the soil and it feels even slightly dry, add water. Just don’t let the medium become soggy, and ensure good drainage.

Give the young plants started from seed a dose of mild fertilizer every two weeks until they’re about six weeks old, then stop feeding.

Store-bought plants already have fertilizer, so skip feeding, at least for the first year. If you’re growing your plant as a perennial, feed it once each year to follow in the fall.

Dr. Earth makes an awesome all-purpose fertilizer that’s mild and balanced. I use it on all kinds of plants and they’re all perfectly happy.

A close up of a spray bottle of Dr Earth Pure Gold Premium Concentrate All Purpose Plant Food isolated on a white background.

Dr. Earth All-Purpose Fertilizer

Arbico Organics carries both 32-ounce hose-end ready-to-spray bottles and 24-ounce bottles of concentrate if you’re looking for options.

If you’re growing your herb indoors, keep it in a sunny window. Sun exposure is key.

These plants need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day or you’ll need to place them under supplemental lighting.

Mine get about five hours per day in my west-facing window, and while they grow just fine, they do tend to lose their shape a bit.

Otherwise, treat indoor specimens as you would outdoor plants, with regular fertilizer applications when they’re young, and by keeping the soil moist.

Be sure to dump out any excess water that collects in saucers promptly.

Growing Tips

  • Grow in full sun.
  • Keep the soil consistently moist.
  • Feed young plants with a mild, balanced fertilizer.


‘Spicy Globe’ will form a rounded shape all on its own, but if you want to pinch it as it matures to encourage an even more compact shape, feel free.

A close up horizontal image of 'Spicy Globe' basil growing in plastic containers.

Stop pinching after about 45 days to allow the plant to mature fully.

For plants grown as perennials, you’ll want to do some heavy pruning in the late winter when plants are dormant to provide some shape, since they will tend to become leggy over time.

Where to Buy

Basil seeds are cheap and fairly easy to find.

A square image of a pot of 'Spicy Globe' basil growing indoors with a wicker basket and tomatoes in the background.

‘Spicy Globe’ Seeds

True Leaf Market has ‘Spicy Globe’ available in two-gram, one-ounce, or four-ounce packets.

Managing Pests and Disease

‘Spicy Globe’ is special, but not when it comes to pests. Aphids, Japanese beetles, and slugs are all common pests that favor basil.

Notice what’s not on this list? Rabbits, deer, and rodents don’t seem interested in this particular cultivar at all.

When it comes to diseases, downy mildew and leaf spot are going to be your biggest challenges.

Downy mildew is caused by the oomycete known as Peronospora belbahrii, which thrives in mild temperatures between 60 and 70°F paired with high humidity above 70 percent.

Initial symptoms present as leaf yellowing between the veins. As the infection progresses, circular brown spots will develop, along with a gray or purple mold on the underside of the leaves.

Eventually, the foliage will drop.

Sprays containing Bacillus subtilis QST-713 or potassium salts of phosphoric acid are highly effective treatments.

Whichever treatment you choose, use it every week to drench the foliage during periods of warm, humid weather.

Monterey Garden Phos

Monterey makes a product called Garden Phos that contains potassium salts of phosphoric acid, which you can grab at Amazon in pint-size containers.

Leaf spot is a generic term for circular brown spots on foliage caused by various fungal pathogens, species of Cercospora, Alternaria, and Colletotrichum

A product containing potassium bicarbonate can help treat the disease, but you need to start treatment as soon as possible because a small plant like ‘Spicy Globe’ can succumb rapidly.

Pull off diseased leaves as they pop up and then treat with something like MilStop SP.

A close up of a bag of MilStop SP foliar fungicide isolated on a white background.

MilStop SP

Reapply once a week while symptoms are present. It’s available at Arbico Organics in five- or 25-pound bags.


As with most basils, it’s best to harvest this one as needed just before use rather than trying to store it in the fridge.

Use your fingernails or a sharp pair of scissors to clip off some leaves when you need them.

Once the plant starts sending out seeds, it’s time to cut the whole thing down to the base. The leaves start turning bitter and tougher after the plant goes to seed.

A close up vertical image of a 'Spicy Globe' basil plant (Ociumum basilicum var. minimum) growing in a small pot set on a wooden surface.

If you live in Zone 10 or 11, you can grow it as a short-lived perennial and harvest the new growth in the following year.

Just know that this cultivar will start to become leggy and lose its shape beyond the first year of growth.

However, since this is an heirloom cultivar, the seeds will grow true. Feel free to let a few seed pods develop and mature to save for planting next season before cutting the plant down.

Recipes and Cooking Ideas

This isn’t the right cultivar if you need piles and piles of basil for a recipe. When you’re whipping up a big old batch of pesto, use something with large leaves like ‘Italian Large Leaf.’

The leaves on this one, on the other hand, are great for using as an accent to garnish pasta dishes and desserts.

They make a particularly attractive option as a garnish because you can use the whole leaf. No need to tear or chop up the leaves before you sprinkle them on.

Quick Reference Growing Guide

Plant Type:Herbaceous annual or short-lived perennial herbTolerance:Light shade
Native to:India, Iran, Southeast AsiaMaintenance:Low
Hardiness (USDA Zone):4-9 (annual), 10-11 (perennial)Soil Type:Rich, loose
Season:Spring, summerSoil pH:6.0-7.5
Exposure:Full sunSoil Drainage:Well-draining
Time to Maturity:60-90 daysCompanion Planting:Borage, carrots, chamomile, chives, marigolds, tomatoes
Spacing:6 inchesAvoid Planting With:Lavender, mint, rosemary, sage, thyme
Planting Depth:1/4 inch (seed), same depth as original container (seedlings)Family:Lamiaceae
Height:12 inchesGenus:Ocimum
Spread:12 inchesSpecies:Basilicum
Water Needs:ModerateVariety:Minimum
Common Pests and Disease:Aphids, Japanese beetles, slugs, snails; downy mildew, leaf spotCultivar:Spicy Globe

It’s the Finest Spicy Basil on the Planet

You can search the entire globe for a better dwarf basil, but ‘Spicy Globe’ is pretty hard to beat.

I think of it more as an ornamental that just happens to be delicious than an herb that just happens to look good.

A close up horizontal image of the foliage of Ocimum basilicum var. minimum 'Spicy Globe' (basil) growing in the garden.

Are you going to keep yours indoors as an edible houseplant? Or will you grow it outside in your herb garden? Let us know your plans in the comments section below!

If you love basil, there are lots more options out there. We have a few guides to some of the other wonderful basils that you might want to consider. Check out:

Photo of author
Kristine Lofgren is a writer, photographer, reader, and gardening lover from outside Portland, Oregon. She was raised in the Utah desert, and made her way to the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two dogs in 2018. Her passion is focused these days on growing ornamental edibles, and foraging for food in the urban and suburban landscape.

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