Growing Tulsi (Holy Basil) Is Super Easy!
A few years ago, I joined a community garden and planted a 4-foot by 8-foot plot. A friend has a local nursery, so I picked up some plants to get started with and used seeds for the rest. One of the plants I purchased was a goji berry bush. To be honest, I am not the best community gardener. I have problems incorporating regular visits to the garden into my weekly schedule.
Getting Everything Planted
A few weeks after I got everything planted, I noticed another plant growing like crazy next to my goji berry bush. I tried to cut it back, so the goji would have room to grow.
The leaves tasted like a spicy mint and the flavor was very pleasant.
As the weeks went by, this crazy plant literally took over and smothered the goji berry bush.
Every time I would go to my plot, I would cut it back. It kept thriving. Then, it started to flower. It had tiny whitish-purple flowers on a long stalk. I brought a few of the flowers home so I could research and identify the plant.
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It turned out to be holy basil or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum).
When I harvested my garden plot, I decided to bring the tulsi home to see if it would grow. It lasted a while with a lot of flowers. Then it died completely, or so it seemed. The tub was on my front porch, and I left it there throughout the winter.
When the weather started to warm again, I saw the green leaves of the tulsi start to sprout out of the soil in the tub.
We have been harvesting tulsi for the last 8 months. It is delicious in our salads. It adds a spicy, minty flavor similar to regular basil.
The Many Benefits of Tulsi
In India, people have been growing tulsi for its medicinal properties for more than 3,000 years. Holy basil is considered a sacred plant in Hinduism.
In traditional medicine, tulsi is used for:
- Digestive problems
- Treating colds and fevers
- Treating allergies and infections
- Strengthening the immune system
- Treating hair and skin disorders
- Dental health
- Repelling insects and treating insect bites
Tulsi is very important in Ayurveda and naturopathy, because the plant is loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, essential oils, and vitamins A and C, which have been known to help manage diabetes and high blood pressure. If you use a few tulsi leaves regularly, it will help the body function properly in general.
It is known to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It is considered an adaptogen (a substance that helps the body adapt and function optimally).
Besides adding it to salads, the leaves are easy to make into a tea.
Add It to Your Garden
There are more than 100 varieties of tulsi. If you have a warm, sunny place in your garden or on your porch or windowsill, consider adding a tulsi plant. It is perfect in a container garden with other sun-loving herbs. It is easy to grow and requires very little care.
In the late spring or early summer, when the temperatures in your area are around 70°F, sow seeds outdoors. If you want an early start, sow the seeds indoors in a sunny window.
Put the tulsi seeds on top of the soil and lightly press down for soil contact. Spray the seeds with water or compost tea. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate in about 1 to 2 weeks.
For a bushier plant, pinch the top of the tulsi plant when there are 4 to 6 pairs of leaves.
Harvest the tulsi leaves throughout the growing season. As the plant gets bigger, use a pair of scissors to cut the larger leaves or to cut an entire branch.
Use the fresh leaves the same day or they will fade. Or, dry the leaves by collecting the branches and placing them in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Move the stems around about 3 times each day until the leaves are crisp and easily crushed.
What Do You Think?
Do you have tulsi in your garden? How do you use it? Let us know in the comments below!
(This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on August 2, 2017. The author may not currently be available to respond to comments, however we encourage our Community members to chime in to share their experiences and answer questions!)
Karen the Newbie Homesteader is a novice gardener, homesteader, and permaculturist. She and her husband recently purchased four acres in central Florida to create their homestead and grow their own food. She will be sharing their adventures: successes, failures, and everything in between – here at The Grow Network.