How to plant holy basil

Ocimum tenuiflorum

Holy basil, also called holy basil, tulsi (from the Hindi language) or tulasi (from Sanskrit), is an aromatic plant native probably to southern Asia, where it has been grown for thousands of years. In India it is cultivated mainly for religious reasons among the Hindus of the Vaishnava tradition, deriving from there the term sacred or holy from its popular name. Erect shrub that usually reaches between 30 and 60 cm in height, with leaves that can be entirely light green (called sri tulsi in India) or that are dark green and have petioles and reddish or purplish ribs (krishna tulsi). The leaves and flowers are very aromatic and can be used as a seasoning and can be used in the same way as basil, although their flavor and aroma are different. This plant is also used for medicinal purposes.


It grows best in hot weather, not withstanding very low temperatures or frost.


You should receive direct sunlight for at least a few hours daily.


The ideal soil should be well drained, light, fertile and rich in organic matter. This plant is very tolerant of soil pH.


Irrigate in order to keep the soil slightly moist. Both the lack and the excess of water harm this plant.


The seeds can be sown directly in the final location of the garden, especially in regions with hot weather. They can also be sown in seedlings, small pots or cups made of newsprint approximately 10 cm high by 5 cm in diameter. In this case, the basil seedlings are transplanted when they have 4 or 6 real leaves.

Sacred basil can also be propagated by cuttings, that is, by cut branches from healthy adult plants. Cut some branches and remove the leaves leaving only those closest to the end of the branch (leave 3 or 4 pairs of leaves). Dip the bottom half of the branch in a container with water until roots emerge and then plant in the final location, or plant the branches in pots with soil kept very moist.

Holy basil or holy basil can also be easily grown in medium or large pots.


Remove invasive plants that are competing for nutrients and resources.


Leaf harvesting can begin when the plant is well developed. Although flowers can also be used, young leaves, from plants that are not blooming, are of better quality.

In warm climates, holy basil is a perennial plant and its leaves can be harvested for a few years. In colder regions, it can be sown annually or it must be kept in a warm place during the winter.

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