Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Ocimum sanctum syn. O. tenuiflorum, Lamiaceae. This close relative of common basil is native to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and has gained recent popularity as a tasty herbal tea. Holy basil is highly aromatic and antimicrobial; the leaves and flowers are used as a medicinal tea for colds, coughs, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, headaches, arthritis, diabetes, stress, and anxiety. Its adaptogenic effect offers an uplifting energy and helps with mental clarity and focus. Culinary uses: fresh leaves can be added to salads and are used as a more pungent version of basil. Holy basil pesto is divine! Perennial in Zone 10 and warmer, grown elsewhere as an annual; 1-2’ tall by 6” -1’ wide. Plant holy basil in full sun in average to moist garden soils. It is easy to grow from seed, but take care not to plant the seed too deep (it’s tiny) and it will germinate better with bottom heat. If your greenhouse gets too cold at night, tulsi will be slow to sprout, and also slow to grow. Plant outside after the danger of frost has passed. Holy basil may appear puny when you first plant it, leaving you to wonder if it has some botanical failure-to-thrive syndrome—perhaps you spoke too harshly with it when you were transplanting it—do not go to that dark place of plant parent guilt. When the days grow longer and the nighttime temperatures warm, it will take off!