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.
We link to vendors to help you find relevant products. If you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
‘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:
What You’ll Learn
‘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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 herb||Tolerance:||Light shade|
|Native to:||India, Iran, Southeast Asia||Maintenance:||Low|
|Hardiness (USDA Zone):||4-9 (annual), 10-11 (perennial)||Soil Type:||Rich, loose|
|Season:||Spring, summer||Soil pH:||6.0-7.5|
|Exposure:||Full sun||Soil Drainage:||Well-draining|
|Time to Maturity:||60-90 days||Companion Planting:||Borage, carrots, chamomile, chives, marigolds, tomatoes|
|Spacing:||6 inches||Avoid Planting With:||Lavender, mint, rosemary, sage, thyme|
|Planting Depth:||1/4 inch (seed), same depth as original container (seedlings)||Family:||Lamiaceae|
|Common Pests and Disease:||Aphids, Japanese beetles, slugs, snails; downy mildew, leaf spot||Cultivar:||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.
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: