Holy Basil is native to the Indian subcontinent. It’s also known as Tulsi, Tulasi and Thai Holy Basil. It’s botanical name is Ocimum Sanctum or Tenuiflorum. There is a green and a red variety. This is the green variety, also called Rama Tulsi.
The most common one, and is more forgiving and easier to grow in more temperate climates than the red variety which is called Krishna or Shyam tulsi.
The leaves are light green, slightly jagged and a little hairy. The flavor is very slightly reminiscent of nutmeg and cloves. The plant blooms with attractive, small purple flowers.
Tulsi or Holy Basil is cultivated for religious and traditional medicine purposes, and also for its essential oil. It is widely used as a herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda.
The difference between Italian (sweet) basil and Holy Basil or tulsi is in the chemical composition which gives each its distinct aroma and flavour. While the flavour of tulsi may not be welcoming in pasta or pizza, there are other ways in which tulsi can be put to culinary use.
Chopped tulsi leaves can be used as a flavourful garnish in salads and vegetable dishes. Tulsi can also be ground into a chutney along with coconut, ginger, chillies and fried gram. Use chopped tulsi and grated coconut to add a new flavour to cooked dhals or to sundal (a dry preparation made of cooked dhals or beans).
Holy Basil leaves can be used raw, plucked fresh from the plant, add it your tea or make kadha (traditional herbal tea) out of it.
Tulsi tea: To make tulsi tea, boil 1 cup of water and pour it over 1 tsp of fresh tulsi leaves. Cover the water in a pot or mug and let it seep for 15-20 minutes. Then strain the leaves, add honey if desired and enjoy. Here you can find many Holy Basi recipes.
For centuries, the dried leaves have been mixed with stored grains to repel insects.
Aromatically, Holy Basil Essential Oil resembles a cross between traditional Basil Oil and Clove Oil. Holy Basil contains a large percentage (up to 85%) of Eugenol, a chemical constituent that gives Clove Oil its characteristic aroma.
Holy Basil is a sacred plant for Hindus. It can be found in front yards of Hindu houses or Hanuman temples. The ritual lighting of lamps each evening during Kartik includes the worship of the tulsi plant. Vaishnavas followers of Vishnu are known as “those who bear the tulsi around the neck”.
The presence of a holy basil plant is believed to increase piety, foster meditation, purify, and protect.
Even the ritual act of watering and caring for the plant, usually undertaken by the women of the house, is considered worshipful and meritorious.
Tulsi is one of the best plants for purifying indoor air quality as it absorbs many toxic chemicals. There’s even research that indicates that Holy Basil can disinfect drinking water.
How to take care of a Holy Basil plant?
Like the curry leaf tree, the Holy Basil plant originates from a warm climate, and is not hardy in almost all parts of Europe. It can be planted in the ground, but will die in autumn.
If you want to keep it the whole year round, it should serve as a house plant indoors when temperatures reach freezing point at night.
Since it’s a subtropical plant, it should receive plenty of sunlight. As soon as winter is over and there’s no more frost at night, the plant can be placed outside in a sunny spot.
The plant loves humidity, so it will benefit from the use of a humidity tray when it’s inside the house in the winter.
How to propagate a Holy Basil plant?
Propagation is done through seeds.
To ensure that it’s delivered in perfect condition, your Holy Basil plant will be shipped in custom plant mail-order cardboard packaging.
Questions and answers
- Do I need to repot the Tulsi plant when it arrives?
Answer: after a few weeks of acclimatization, you can repot it to bigger pot during the growing season (May-September).
- What soil do I use for my Tulsi plant?
Answer: Holy Basil thrives in a wide variety of soil types. You can use any regular good-quality potting mix.
- Is fertilizer recommended?
Answer: Tulsi plants don’t need fertilizers to thrive, but when in growing season they will do better when fertilized. If you choose to use a fertilizer, we recommend that you use a liquid fertilizer.