Tulsi or Tulasi is scientifically known as Ocimum tenuiflorum belonging to botanical family Lamiaceae (Mint family). Also known as ‘Holy basil’, this ancient aromatic-medicinal plant has dozens of other common names in local Indian languages. Tulsi is a perennial erect shrub; its leaves & every other plant parts are loaded with aromatic essential oils. Tulsi is so significant in Hinduism that every Hindu family has Tulsi plant at their home. Plant is preferably grown in the front yard in typical ‘Tulsi Vrindavana’ where it is worshiped every day. There are two basic types of Tulsi, the green leaved ‘Sri- Tulsi’ & dark purple leaved ‘Krishna Tulsi’.
Medicinal properties of Tulsi are so widespread that almost every Indian family knows how to use it. Tulsi juice is given to stimulate appetite; Tulsi extract is given in stomach ache;
Dry Tulsi leaf powder is used in cough & cold;
Tulsi juice is also externally applied in skin diseases. Tulsi is known to purify the surrounding air. Nowadays many Tulsi plants are grown together in an ‘Oxygen corner’ of a garden.
A variety of Tulsi is also cultivated commercially on farmlands to extract aromatic oil. This oil is used in perfumeries, cosmetics & herbal products.
Steps for growing Tulsi:
- Tulsi is grown by seed sowing method.
- You can buy Tulsi seeds or they are also easy to harvest from flowering spikes of old Tulsi plant.
- Pot size: Seeds can be directly sown in regular 8 inch round pot.
- Sowing: Since seeds are tiny, they are not sown very deep. Seeds are covered with 2 cm layer of soil after sowing.
- Saplings: If not grown by seed sowing, Tulsi saplings are easily available in any local nursery. Tulsi is most grown plant in Indian nurseries.
- Soil & Manure: Tulsi requires aerated, porous, well drained soil with added organic manure. Sticky, clay like soil is not good for plants roots.
- Sunlight: Tulsi can grow very well under full sun as well as partial sunlight.
- Watering: Tulsi plant needs watering every day in summer & every alternate day in winter. Light watering in the form of shower is preferred; over flooding of pot is not recommended.
Tulsi Plant care tips:
- Pinch off the growing tip of your Tulsi if you wish to grow a bushy plant rather than a single stem.
- Keep removing the new flowering heads, don’t let your plant flower early, and delay the Tulsi flowering as much as you can to keep your plant green, leafy & bushy.
- Always keep the pot aerated by loosening the soil, don’t let the soil get all compact & hard.
- When grown in poor conditions it might be attacked by some common pests like mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites and sometimes whiteflies. For treating pests use Neem based organic pesticide or insecticidal soap.
Other types of Tulsi: Apart from regular Holy basil, there are many other popular species of Tulsi.
- Ram Tulsi (Ocimum gratissimu): Large leaves, spicy aroma, highly medicinal.
- Karpur Tulsi (Ocimum kilimandscharicum): Plant smells like camphor.
- Lemon basil (ocimum citriodorum): Plant with strong fragrant lemon scent, used in cooking.
- Even the king of herbs ‘Sweet basil’ (Ocimum basilicum) is close relative of Tulsi.
Tulsi is indeed the most precious but a free gift of Nature to mankind.