Tulsi Plant is considered a holy plant in many parts of the world. Tulsi Plant Care is easy and this article intends to demystify the Care of Tulsi Plant for you. I will give you some secret tips on how to keep Tulsi Plant healthy and how to make Tulsi Plant bushy.
Tulsi (Hindi) plant is also known as Basil Plant (English). The scientific name of the Tulsi Plant is Ocimum Basilicum. Since it is considered holy, it is also known as Holy Basil or Vrinda.
In Hindu households in India, people plant Tulsi in specially dedicated spaces called Tulsi Vrindavan.
It is consumed widely for its medicinal properties and is used as a herb in many food preparations around the world. It is also called elixir of life owing to its various health benefits.
Many of us wonder why Tulsi Plant dies and how to save Tulsi Plant/Basil Plant from dying? Although this plant is very hardy, it needs a suitable environment to grow and survive.
Are you one of those people who want to know how to grow Tulsi Plant faster and what all goes into Tulsi plant/Basil Plant care? Then this article is for you.
For growing any plant, you must first understand the natural habitat of that plant. Natural habitat means the environment and conditions in which the plant grows naturally.
Tulsi plant care is easy if you understand that it is essentially a tropical plant meaning it needs a warm climate to grow and survive. It is a perennial herb.
But what if you live in cold regions!
Don’t worry. You can still grow and care for the Tulsi plant as long as you can create suitable conditions around it.
Tulsi Plant Care: How to Grow Tulsi Plant faster?
Tulsi plants can be grown either in your garden or in pots or containers. This article will answer the question of how to grow Tulsi in pots at home?
It is very easy to maintain this plant once you know the plant’s natural requirements.
Types of Tulsi Plant/Basil plant types
In the entire world, there are around 18 varieties or types of Tulsi plants. In India, people mainly know of 4 varieties:
- Ram Tulsi : This variety has light green coloured asymmetric leaves. It is well suited to be grown in pots and has many medicinal benefits.
- Shyam Tulsi / Krishna Tulsi : This variety has greater mdecinal uses than Ram Tulsi. The stems and leaves are purple in color. The leaves are braoder and have very strong pungent aroma to them. Its growth rate is slower than other types of Tulsi.
- Vana Tulsi : Usually grown in gardens. It can grow tall and bushy. The leaves have a velvety textue to them. They normally gorw in the foothills of Himalayas and leaves which are light green on the upper side and dark green on the lower side.
- Kapoor Tulsi: Easy and quick to grow. Commonly found in India households.
Apart from the above 2 types, there are other varieties available in India:
- Drudriha Tulsi
- Babi Tulsi
Height of Basil Plant
If you take proper care of Tulsi plant, the plant can grow up to 5 feet in height. It grows large in the rainy season when the climate is warm and humid.
Tulsi plant does very well in highly humid regions like the Indian subcontinent.
Optimum Temperature to Grow Basil Plant
Tulsi plant is a warm climate plant and hence to grow Tulsi plant/ Basil plant faster, it needs to be kept outdoors in full sun (Please bring it indoors in winters if you are living in colder regions with potential snow-falls)
Tulsi plant is hardy to USDA zone 10. It cannot survive in frost.
Sunlight Requirements of Tulsi Plant
Why is the Tulsi plant kept outside? Can Tulsi plants grow without sunlight?
The answer is NO!
Tulsi plant care is incomplete if not given ample sunlight. During the initial phases of Tuli plant / Basil plant growth, it can sustain low illumination levels. However, as the plant grows in height, it needs at least 4-5 hours of direct sunlight for optimum growth.
In absence of ample sunlight, Tuli plant growth will be stunted.
Direct sunlight is a must if you want to grow Tulsi plant faster and bushier as sunlight is one of the main ingredients in the process of photosynthesis which produces food for the plant to help it grow.
You can grow it indoors as well. However, you will need to replace sunlight with grow lights to fulfill the sunlight requirement of the Tulsi plant.
Best Soil Type / Potting Mix
Basil leaves plant or Tulsi plant loves well-drained soil. Any kind of well drained soil will do well for Tulsi plant however it grows best in sandy loam.
The soil should not be clayey as it does not like waterlogged soil in which case leaf production will reduce.
The optimal pH range for growing this herb is around 6 to 7.5.
Tuli plant will produce the leaves faster if the soil is allowed to partially dry in between 2 consecutive watering spells.
Too much watering can induce fungi growth on the roots of the plant leading to the death of the plant.
How to make Tulsi Plant Bushy?
Earlier whenever my Tulsi plant started developing seeds, I would let the seed grow & mature on the plant.
Later I started pinching off the new seeds during the initial development phase itself and the results I got were amazing!
My Tulsi plant started to grow faster and bushier because the plant started diverting its energy towards producing more branches and leaves than in producing seeds.
Normally, in any plant, plants utilize a lot of energy in creating seeds and seeds pods. So if you want your plant to grow bushier, you should pinch off the seeds.
How to Prune Tulsi Plant?
Tulsi plant tends to grow more branches over time. So if you want to keep your plant compact and bushier, trim or prune the side branches so that plant will start developing the branches on the unpruned portion of the stem.
Also, when you pluck the leaves for use, take the leaves along with the branch attached to it. Do not just pluck the leaves. This is because when you leave the bare branch onto the plant, it takes up energy from the plant and produces nothing. This energy will otherwise be used in producing new leaves.
Tulsi plant must be transplanted once it starts to outgrow its pot or container. If you see roots of the Tulsi plant coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the container, it is an indication that your plant needs a bigger pot.
While repotting, make sure not to disturb the root system for plant to survive well after the process.
When harvesting basil leaves, cut the whole branch, dont just pluck the leaves for a bushier growth of the rest of the plant.
Propagation of Tulsi Plant
The best time to grow Tulsi plants is the rainy season when the climate is humid.
Tulsi plant can be grown by 2 methods:
- From seeds
- By rooting in water
How to Grow Tulsi From Seeds
When collecting seeds from seed pods, ensure that you collect mature seeds (brownish in clour). Green colored seeds should not be sown as they will not germinate.
Steps of growing Tulsi from seeds:
- Take the planter/pot/container and fill it with garden soil 50%, organic fertilizer like vermicompost 30%, cocopeat 20%.
- Water the soil completely before planting seeds. Soil should be well-draining and not water clogged.
- Buy Tulsi seeds from a garden store and sprinkle the top layer with seeds.
- Press upon the seeds lightly to bury them about 1/4 inch deep into the soil.
- Cover the pot with a plastic wrap to keep the tulsi seeds under warm and moist conditions.
- Mist the post daily with a spray bottle. Do not pour water directly as it will damage the seeds.
- Place the pot indoors until germination at a spot which received ample sunlight and warmth from sun. Alternatively you can place the pot under grow lights.
- Seeds will take 8-15 days to germinate.
- Ensure the temperature is minimum between 15 to 21 degree celcius for proper germination of seeds.
You can plant basil leaves seeds any time in the year in tropical areas except during the peak summer season.
How to Grow Tulsi by Rooting in Water
Steps to grow Tulsi by rooting method:
- Select a branch of Tulsi which is mature and has not flowered yet. The cutting should be 5-6 inches long.
- Remove the leave from bottom 2 inches of the cutting.
- Dip the cutting into the rooting hormone ( you can use cinnamon powder as rooting hormone)
- Place this cutting in a clear glass contained filled with water. Water should be filled only upto bottom 2 inches of the stem
- Change the water regularly to inhibit development of bacteria and hence root rot.
- Place this glass container in a warm sunny spot indoors.
- When the roots are 1/2 to 1 inch in length, transfer the cutting into a pot filled with garden soil.
- Keep this pot indoors for 10-12 days before shifting it outdoors.
Uses of Tulsi Plant
Basil leaves or Tulsi leaves find use in many ways. It is a very popular herb in Indian households as it is used in making aromatic Tea (Chai).
Tulsi plant is also a very good mosquito & insect repellant. You must have observed the surrounding areas where Tulsi plant is grown are free of mosquitoes and insects.
Tulsi or basil plant is also grown for its essential oil extracts as they have many health benefits.
Tulsi leaves are consumed directly by many as it believed to boost the immune system and help body fight against a multitude of viral and bacterial diseases.
Plant Life Span
How long does Tulsi Plant live?
Tulsi plant can live up to 3 years when Tulsi Plant care is done properly.
Best Pot Material / How to Grow Tulsi in Pots?
Tulsi or Basil plants can be easily grown in pots. It is easily manageable in pots as the height of this plant is suitable enough for the pots (about 5 feet). The roots of the plant are not very deep. Hence, one can say, it’s an ideal plant to grow in pots.
Fertilizing Tulsi Plant
The soil must be rich in nutrients for your Tulsi plant/Basil plant to grow faster. It absorbs a great amount of nutrients in the initial growth stages ( first 3 months) and hence needs to be supplied fertilizers frequently during this phase.
Especially if you are growing Basil leaveas in a container or pot, you need to make sure you apply fertilizers regularly for optimum grow and care of Tulsi plant as the soil itself cannot replenish the nutrients in the soil.
Since the leaves of Tulsi plant or Basil plant are consumed directly, I recommend applying organic fertilizers as opposed to chemical fertilizers.
You can apply vermicompost, cow dung manure, dried leaves compost, etc. every 25 to 30 days for optimum growth.
Used tea leaves can serve as homemade fertilizer for Tulsi plant.
To apply the fertilizer, dig the top soil about 2-3 inches deep, mix the fertilizers and water the soil.
When the leaves of your Tulsi plant start yellowing and fall off the branches, it indicated a deficiency of nutrients in the soil and you should add fertilizers immediately if this happens to your plant.
Reduce the application of fetilizers after the growing season (in winters).
Winter Care of Tulsi Plant
Falling temperatures may lead to rotting of the plant. If you live in cold climates, keep the plant indoors at a sunny spot where it can receive 4-5 hours of sunlight.
If the temperatures are below 10 degree Celcius ( 50 degree Fahreinheit), move you plant indoors (Typically in USDA zone below 10)
Watering / Irrigating Tulsi Plant
You should not overwater the Tulsi plant as it tends to reduce the yield in such cases. It likes dry spells in between 2 watering sessions.
In summers, you can do mulching so that the water does not evaporate quickly. You should remove the mulch in winters.
Frequent Asked Questions
- How many times should I water Tulsi Plant?
Response: Watering tulsi plant depends on the season and climate of the region you live. If you live in colder climates, you should water Tulsi plant only when the topsoil feels dry. You can do a finger test (see if topsoil sticks to your finger when inserted 1 inch deep in topsoil).
In summers, in regions where there is extreme heat, you may want to water twice a day. There is no single answer to this question.
- When should I not water Tulsi Plant?
Response: When the soil is still wet, you should not water Basil leaves plant. Overwatering may kill the plant or reduce the yield of the plant.
Diseases & Pest Control for Tulsi Plant
Tulsi plant is susceptible to attack by insects and pests in rainy and winter seasons. Spider mites are a common problem.
Spider mites mostly attack in the winter season as they like a dry environment. Spray some ice-cold water on the leaves regularly to keep the spider mites away.
You can also spray neem oil onto the plant to keep the pests and insects away. The neem oil sprays are readily available in markets.
Tulsi leaves also develop a leaf infection caused by a bacteria called Pseudomonas cichorii. It leads to rotting of the stem and develops when spots of the plant are overwatered.
You can use chemical sprays also to save your plant. However it has adverse effects on soil. Hence I do not normally recommend this more so because the plant leaves are consumed directly by many.
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