How Do I Fix My Purple Basil Turning Green?

Purple Basil is named such due to its pretty dark purple color. There are a couple of different varieties of Basil that are purple, but Purple Basil is the most common one. While it is usually a purple color, hence the name, it does sometimes tend to look more green or lose its purple coloring entirely. 

To fix your Purple Basil turning green, it is best to make sure your Purple Basil gets plenty of light either from the sun or from a grow light. In winter and early spring when days are the shortest, they may start to turn green without things like grow lights. Places where it isn’t always sunny or if there is lots of shade, it may grow greener so that it can get the nutrients it needs from the sun. 

Green Basil and Purple Basil have a few other differences as well, including taste, smell, and the best places to put in a meal. 

Green Vs Purple Basil

Green and Purple Basil are very similar. They belong to the same genus Ocimum and are part of the mint family, along with lavender, hyssop, rosemary, and thyme. However, some varieties are pure green while others have a purple hue or are even pure purple. This is just down to the species. 

The color in these more Purple Basils comes from a pigment known as Anthocyanin. It is what gives a variety of plants their purple, red, and blue hues. 

Since they are different species, they also have different flavor profiles and purposes. Even their smells may be a little different. Purple Basil can also look Green when they reproduce. 

Some varieties of Purple Basil are:

  • Holy Sacred Red Basil
  • Red Rubin Basil
  • African Blue Basil
  • Licorice Basil
  • Purple Bush Basil
  • Tulsi Basil
  • Anise Basil
  • Amethyst Basil
  • Dark Opal Basil
  • Osmin Basil
  • Purple Ruffle Basil

However, most varieties of Basil are Green. 

Can You Eat Purple Basil?

Purple Basil plant
You can eat Purple Basil. It works well for a variety of different dishes. Some of the foods it best pairs with are:

  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Vegetables
  • Tomato
  • Vinegar
  • Fruit
  • Pasta
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil

In addition, it has a lot of health benefits, including being an anti-inflammatory. It also has vitamins like A, C, B6, K, iron, calcium, tryptophan, and potassium. 

Does Purple Basil Taste The Same As Green?

Most Green Basil is described as Sweet Basil. There are a couple of different Green Basils though, that have slightly different tastes. For example, there is Lemon Basil which works best with vegetables and fish due to its strong lemon taste and smell. 

There is also Thai Basil, which is a bit more like Licorice Basil and keeps a lot of its flavor when cooked. Sweet Basil is the most common variety. It has a sweet flavor that makes it work well for desserts, but a hint of spice that gives it the best taste in things like pesto or on top of a tomato salad. 

Purple Basil, on the other hand, has a much more potent flavor. It is strongly reminiscent of cloves in smell and taste, and isn’t nearly as sweet. It can be cooked but tends to turn dishes into an unattractive black color. 

It can be used to replace Sweet Basil in anything fresh like pesto or caprese salad to add a little more punch and flavor. 

Does Purple Basil Stay Purple?

Purple Basil gets its name due to its purple coloring. However, that doesn’t mean they stay purple forever. Purple Basil tends to lose a lot of its purple pigmentation around winter and early spring. It will become more of a mottled color mixed with green and purple, to the point that it kind of looks diseased or unhealthy. 

Why Is My Purple Plant Turning Green?

This lack of purple comes from a lack of light. Plants get their energy from the sunlight using chlorophyll. This is what gives plants their green color. Plants with little to no green color aren’t as effective at converting sunlight. When there is plenty of light, this isn’t a problem. 

However, when plants aren’t getting enough sunlight, such as during winter when days are shorter, they may struggle to get the energy they need. To solve this problem, they will produce more chlorophyll. This causes the leaves to turn green and lose a lot of their purple coloring. 

What Happens When Purple Basil Turns Green?

Nothing happens per se when Purple Basil turns green. This just means that your plant isn’t getting quite the amount of sunlight that it needs to stay purple. It will produce as much chlorophyll as it needs to stay healthy and everything is fine. 

If you don’t mind the coloring on your Basil, then you can just leave the plant and it will be alright. However, if you want the Basil to stay purple, you will have to treat it a little differently. 

How Do I Make My Plants More Purple?

To make your Basil more purple, you have to make sure that your Basil has enough light. Anthocyanins are produced when a plant is stressed, often by too much light, drought, or pathogens. Essentially, making sure your plant is just a little stressed out is key to keeping your plant purple. The best way to do this is with plenty of light, but a little less water can help too. 

Most of the time, you want at least eight hours of bright light a day. If you can’t get this much to your plant, look at getting grow lights. They can be especially helpful during the winter periods. 

Some forms of Basil may have genes to allow them to turn purple and green. Sometimes, one plant will produce leaves of both colors, depending on which genes are most in effect. 

Sometimes, the plants can even have leaves that produce a mix of both colors in different proportions. The Anise, Licorice, Purple Bush, and Tulsi or Sacred Basil plants are some of the ones that have these mixed coloring on their leaves. 

Will Purple Basil Survive Winter?

Purple Basil
Most Basil is annual. This includes Purple and Green Basil. This means that once winter hits, the plant will die and not return the next year. If your plant stays warm, it may continue to live, but it often loses flavor and becomes more woody than herbal if they do. 

No Basil varieties do well in cold temperatures. If you do choose a perennial Basil, you still have to make sure that they stay warm. Any Basil that is left in a place where temperatures will drop below 50°F (10°C) will quickly wither and die. 

If you live somewhere where it gets cold during the winter, you will have to bring your Basil indoors somewhere where it will stay warm while still getting a fair amount of light. A bathroom with a window is good, or a patio room with a lot of light. 

However, unless you live somewhere that doesn’t get cold at all, they can stay outside throughout the winter. 

Should You Let Purple Basil Flower?

This depends on what you are growing the Basil for. If you are using Basil for eating, then you will likely want to remove the flowers right away. This allows the plant to focus on becoming bushier and producing the right amount of essential oils in every leaf that provides it with flavor. 

After it starts to flower, many people notice that their Basil tends to grow more bitter. So pinching off the leaves right away or stopping it from flowering, in general, is better. 

However, if you are just growing the plant because it is pretty and you want to put it in your garden for appearance, leaving the flowers on doesn’t hurt. 


Purple Basil needs plenty of sunlight to stay its brilliant purple color. They keep their color due to being a little stressed. By giving them more sun than you would normal Sweet Basil or by giving them a little less water, you can ensure that you don’t lose that color. 

However, that only accounts for normal Purple Basil. Some breeds of Basil naturally have a mix of purple and green on each leaf. Purple Basil is edible and pairs well with eggplant, tomato, and garlic, and it has a more potent taste and lacks sweetness.

Purple Basil is a great option to choose as an edible garnish as it has many vitamins, calcium, and iron.