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Growing Basil, Mini, "Windowbox"

Can an herb in your garden be too cute to eat? That's how I currently feel about "Windowbox" basil. I can't even bring myself to pinch the developing flower buds so it doesn't flower and go to seed. The seeds for my "Windowbox" basil came from Renee's Garden, but before seeing it her online seed catalog I never knew such a basil existed. On the product page "Windowbox" is described as being "truly a bonsai basil" and while the bonsai purist in me bristles at a basil being called "bonsai" I can't help but nod in agreement with this description. At certain angles, this little pot of basil looks like a miniature forest. I find myself going out to the porch garden just to look at it.

Windowbox Mini Basil herb container garden

The compact growth habit of "Windowbox" basil is umbrella shaped with plants growing 8-10 inches tall. Even though the leaves of this basil are tiny; they are no less aromatic than the larger basil varieties you've grown in your herb garden.

Where to Grow "Windowbox" Basil

Obviously you can grow this Italian import in a window box, container garden, or on a kitchen windowsill , but the miniature plants are giving me whimsical gardening ideas. In a fairy garden "Windowbox" basil could look like forest. "Windowbox" basil would be a good plant for a model train garden, its scale is perfect to represent trees and shrubs. In a knot garden created out of herbs or vegetables this mini basil could replace boxwood hedges their leaf growth is so similar.

Keeping "Windowbox" Basil Small

I've done nothing to my pot of basil to keep it neat and compact. I've not trimmed or pinched it as it has grown. The tiny leaves and compact growth is all attributed to growing in full-sun. My herb garden is located on the back porch where plants get full sun. Plants grown in full-sun will naturally grow smaller leaves because they need less leaf space to carry out photosynthesis.

windowbox basil growing in small garden pot

Here is a closer view of the leaves of this basil. The plant has been growing in full sun since I sowed the seeds and the first seedling emerged. Now, if you live in a desert environment I don't recommend growing your basil in full sun, but for me in Chicago it works out pretty well as long as I make sure to water regularly.

Bonsai basil Windowbox variety growing in container garden

The opposite side of the same potted "Windowbox" basil plant. See the difference in the leaf size and spacing between the leaf buds between this picture and the one just above? This side didn't receive as much sun because I forgot to rotate the pot.

If you're looking to start an herb garden, either in containers or in the ground, I hope you're persuaded to grow some "Windowbox" basil. Even if, like myself, you aren't a cook or have much of an interest in edible gardening grow this mini basil simply because it is charming. What's not to love about a basil whose tiny leaves and compact growth are evocative of bonsai?

I got my "Windowbox" basil seeds from Renee'sGarden which you can visit here, the page for "Windowbox" mini basil is here. I think my basil is even cuter than the ones they have pictured.


  1. This looks much like my basil, Albahaca Summerlong according to the seed packet. It's growing in a beautiful globe shape and is described as late flowering.

  2. Awwww... SO cute! Must have one!!! But it must probably wait for next spring, I'm afraid, because I lack even the windowsill space to keep it all winter. :-(

  3. We are growing 2 kinds of basil, one being a small windowbox version, but not as small and cute as the one you have. That is adorable and does look too cute to eat!

    Thanks for sending me the link to your Roma article on BER! I am bummed to hear that the elongated variety are more susceptible to end rot. That stinks. We've been watering more evenly, and looks like the other fruit are doing better. But this drought we are having on the East coast is definitely not helping things.

  4. Noogie, that .is. too cute to eat! Are you entering any photos of it in Renee's contest? Now I have a craving for pesto--I wonder why?!

  5. Looks really neat! I hadn't heard of Windowbox Basil before, but have enjoyed growing Boxwood Basil, another small variety.

  6. What an adorable basil plant! I can see why you would want to go out and stare at it and visit with it a while! My kitchen windowsill faces you think it would get enough sun there? I hate growing herbs outside cause I never walk out to get them. Windowsill would be better for me.

  7. What a cute little basil MBT!

  8. Love it! Especially in the little pot! So cute! It deserves a prized spot in any patio garden. I'm not adding any more this season, but this is making my list for next year!

  9. Another basil I'll have to try. I'm growing 'Spicy Globe Basil' this year, which is cute, but yours is cuter. Fine. ;-)

  10. @Ginny,
    I Googled that name and it could be the same basil but I can't find much on it. But if it is as dwarf as this basil it must be really neat.

    Ha, I'm fretting about my little basil because I don't think I have the window space to keep it going through a winter but I'm going to make sure to get seeds for it next year.

    You're welcome, hope you have better luck with your tomatoes. I can't wait until mine are ripe and I can have some tomatoes with basil.

    I don't know if I'll be entering any photos in their contest, but can I tell you how hard it was to write this entry and not type "noogie?" LOL.

    I'll have to look into that one as it may be the same as this one, which to me does look a lot like boxwood.

    Probably not enough light to keep it dwarfed in a north facing window, but perhaps with some supplimental light?


    Hope you do add it to your garden for next year.

    I'm growing that one too, if it is the one from Botanical Interests. Although, the one in my Deluxe Grow Box is HUGE! You can see it in the first picture in that post. It is sort of in the center of the box, to the left of that other monstrous basil.

  11. Yep, mine is from Botanical Interests, too. Your Grow Box one is WAY bigger than mine is. I'll have to post some pics of my basils soon.

  12. I had never thought of growing basil in my window box.....hmmmm...this opens up some possibilities.

  13. It takes so ittle to make us gardeners happy. I will include this in a fairie garden next year.

  14. WOW! Your Basil looks great! I can't wait for our own to get started soon. Have a great day!

  15. My mother used to grow basil (among other plants) in her window box. I actually started doing this in my apartment a few years back. Unfortunately when I moved into my house I screwed up the transfer and the basil ended up dying. Haven't tried to grow it since. I will certainly give it another try though and find it pretty cool that someone else grows basil this way as well

  16. Anonymous4:48 PM

    I love this! This is the first time I've heard about window box basil. We have a tiny patio space in our Vancouver apartment, so I'm always glad to hear about space saving plants.

  17. @Colleen,
    Post pics of your Grow Box too.

    You should try an edible windowbox planting.

    You're right it does take very little to make us happy, eh?

    @The Blogs,
    Good luck with your basil.

    You should grow some basil, it is an awesome herb to have around the home and garden. Plus, you have such a good memory associated with it that you should continue your mom's tradition.

    Since it is a small basil it would be perfect for apartment gardeners who don't have a lot of space to devote to growing basil.

  18. You don't cook?! Snips of the pretty little basil would make a nice garnish for take-out or even a frozen dinner:)

  19. Window box basil? That is great. Now I know that I am going to do with my little space in my terrace. I will going to put plants and basil and I am sure that is going to look amazing.

  20. Walk2Write, I cook some. I'm not a very good cook though. Unless I follow a recipe.

    Dining room table,
    Good luck with your small space garden.

  21. Great post! It is interesting and helpful..Thank you for sharing it.

  22. I have wondered about that little basil if it tasted as good as the large leaf basil. I like the look of it for my herb container so I think I will try it this year.


  23. Anonymous8:48 PM

    My mini basil topiary died after a few days...any way to revive it? P.S. I live in the desert.



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