Cultivation of Tulsi plant: Complete guide on Tulsi plant farming involves in seed treatment, planting, pest management, irrigation, harvesting and uses.
Scientific name of TULSI (Ocimum Sanctum L.):
Ocimum tenuiflorum, also known as Ocimum sanctum, holy basil, or tulasi (also spelled thulasi), is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae which is native to the Indian subcontinent and widespread as a cultivated plant throughout the Southeast Asian tropics. It is an erect, many branched subshrub, 30–60 cm (12–24 in) tall with hairy stems and simple phyllotaxic green or purple leaves that are strongly scented.
Leaves have petioles and are ovate, up to 5 cm (2.0 in) long, usually slightly toothed. The flowers are purplish in elongate racemes in close whorls. The two main morphotypes cultivated in India and Nepal are green-leaved (Sri or Lakshmi tulasi) and purple-leaved (Krishna tulasi).
Tulasi is cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes, and for its essential oil. It is widely known across the Indian subcontinent as a medicinal plant and an herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda, and has an important role within the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, in which devotees perform worship involving holy basil plants or leaves. This plant is revered as an elixir of life.
The variety of Ocimum tenuiflorum used in Thai cuisine is referred to as Thai holy basil (Thai: กะเพรา kaphrao); it is not to be confused with Thai basil, which is a variety of Ocimum basilicum.
Tulasi leaves are an essential part in the worship of Vishnu and his avatars, including Krishna and Rama, and other male Vaishnava deities such as Hanuman, Balarama, Garuda and many others. Tulasi is a sacred plant for Hindus and is worshipped as the avatar of Lakshmi. Water mixed with the petals is given to the dying to raise their departing souls to heaven. Tulasi, which is Sanskrit for “the incomparable one”, is most often regarded as a consort of Krishna in the form of Lakshmi. According to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, tulasi is an expression of Sita. There are two types of tulasi worshipped in Hinduism: “Rama tulasi” has light green leaves and is larger in size; “Shyama tulasi” has dark green leaves and is important for the worship of Hanuman. Many Hindus have tulasi plants growing in front of or near their home, often in special pots. Traditionally, tulasi is planted in the centre of the central courtyard of Hindu houses. It is also frequently grown next to Hanuman temples, especially in Varanasi.
According to Vaishnavas, it is believed in Puranas that during Samudra Manthana, when the gods win the ocean-churning against the asuras, Dhanvantari comes up from the ocean with Amrita in hand for the gods. Dhanvantari, the divine healer, sheds happy tears, and when the first drop falls in the Amrita, it forms tulasi. In the ceremony of Tulasi Vivaha, tulasi is ceremonially married to Krishna annually on the eleventh day of the waxing moon or twelfth of the month of Kartika in the lunar calendar. This day also marks the end of the four-month Chaturmas, which is considered inauspicious for weddings and other rituals, so the day inaugurates the annual marriage season in India. The ritual lighting of lamps each evening during Kartika includes the worship of the tulasi plant, which is held to be auspicious for the home. Vaishnavas especially follow the daily worship of tulasi during Kartik. In another legend, Tulasi was a pious woman who sought a boon to marry Vishnu. Lakshmi, Vishnu’s consort, cursed her to become a plant in earth. However, Vishnu appeased her by giving her a boon that she would grace him when he appears in the form of Shaligrama in temples.
Vaishnavas traditionally use Hindu prayer beads made from tulasi stems or roots, which are an important symbol of initiation. Tulasi rosaries are considered to be auspicious for the wearer, and believed to put them under the protection of Hanuman. They have such a strong association with Vaishnavas, that followers of Hanuman are known as “those who bear the tulasi round the neck”.
Tulasi (Sanskrit:-Surasa) has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for its diverse healing properties. It is mentioned in the Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic text. Tulsi is considered to be an adaptogen, balancing different processes in the body, and helpful for adapting to stress. Marked by its strong aroma and astringent taste, it is regarded in Ayurveda as a kind of “elixir of life” and believed to promote longevity.
Tulasi extracts are used in ayurvedic remedies for a variety of ailments. Traditionally, tulasi is taken in many forms: as herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf or mixed with ghee. Essential oil extracted from Karpoora tulasi is mostly used for medicinal purposes and in herbal cosmetics.
For centuries, the dried leaves have been mixed with stored grains to repel insects. In Sri Lanka this plant is used as a mosquito repellent.
Tulsi leaves contain a bright yellow volatile oil which is useful against insects and bacterial. The principle constituents of this oil are eugenol, eugenol methyl ether and carvacrol. The oil is reported to possess anti-bacterial properties and acts as an insecticide. It inhibits the in vitro growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Micrococcus pyogenes var. aureus.
Green type (Sri Tulsi) and Purple type (Krishna Tulsi)
Sri Tulsi & Krishna Tulsi
Soil and climate:
The plant is sufficiently hardy and it can be grown on any type of soil except the ones with highly saline, alkaline or water logged conditions. However, sandy loam soil with good organic matter is considered ideal. The crop has a wide adaptability and can be grown successfully in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Long days with high temperature have been found favorable for plant growth and oil production.
Tulasi Leaves, Seeds & Flowers
The crop can be propagated through seeds. For propagating through seeds, they are to be sown in the nursery beds. For sowing of one hectare about 300g of seeds are required. The nursery should be located preferably in partial shade with adequate irrigation facilities. Soil is worked upto a depth of about 30 cm. well rotten farm yard manure is applied to the soil and prepared to a fine tilth and seed beds of 4.5×1.0x0.2 m size are prepared. As the seeds are minute, the required quantity of seeds are mixed with sand in the ratio of 1:4 and sown in nursery bed, 2 months in advance of the onset of monsoon. They germinate in 8-12 days and seedlings are ready for transplanting in about 6 weeks time at 4-5 leaf stage.
Tulsi can also be propagated by vegetative method using terminal cuttings with about 90-100 per cent success when planted during October-December months. For this purpose, cuttings with 8-10 nodes and 10-15 cm length are used. They are so prepared that except for the first 2-3 pair of leaves the rest are trimmed off. Later, they are planted in the well prepared nursery beds or polythene bags. In about 4-6 weeks time the rooting is complete and they are ready for transplanting into the main field. The plants are transplanted at a spacing of 40 cm between the row.
Manures and fertilizers:
The plant requires about 15t/ha of FYM which is to be applied as basal dose at the time of land preparation. Regarding the inorganic fertilizers application of 120:60:60 kg/ha of NPK is recommended.
Irrigation is provided twice a week till one month so that the plants establish themselves well. Later, it is given at weekly interval depending upon the rainfall and soil moisture status.
Interspaces should be maintained weed free and the first weeding is done one month after planting and the second after another 30 days. Afterwards, no further weeding is required as the plants become bushy and cover the soil and thereby smother the weeds. However, after each harvest, weeding should be done so as to avoid weed growth in the interspaces, if any.
Tulsi is not prone to serious pest/disease except some minor pests like leaf rollers which can be controlled by spraying with 0.2% Malathion or 0.1% Methyl parathion whenever noticed.
Medicinal plants like tulsi require production involving minimal or no usage of chemical pesticides. Organic practices include control measures using neem based formulations. Fish oil resin soap can be used to manage such sucking pests. Botanicals viz., extracts of garlic, Vitex negundo, Lantana camera, Clerodendron inerme, Calotropis gigantean are often combined and sprayed periodically for controlling the pests.
Diseases like powdery mildew can be controlled by spraying with 0.3% wettable sulphur. Likewise seedling blight and root rot can be controlled by drenching the nursery beds with a 0.1 per cent solution of mercurial fungicide and adopting phytosanitory measures.
Powdery mildew in Tulasi Leaves
Harvesting and yield:
The first harvest is done after 90 days of planting and subsequently it may be harvested at every 75 days interval. The crop is harvested at full bloom stage by cutting the plants at 15 cm from ground level to ensure good regeneration for further harvests. The yield and oil content is more in plants harvested during bring sunny days.
On an average, tulsi gives about 10,000 kgs of fresh herbage per hectare per year. The herb contains about 0.1 to 0.23 per cent oil and it about 10-20 kg of essential oil per hectare. Irrigated tulsi gives higher herbage yield (upto 20 ton and oil yield (upto 40kg/ha).
Harvested Tulasi Leaves
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