Holy basil or ocimum sanctum, is one of the plants that you must have in your home garden.
Holy basil, with scientific name Ocimum sanctum, is a shrub in the family laminaceae. We can find different species of basil plants, that grow in different parts of the world. Holy basil is very common in tropical places, especially in Kerala and other South Indian states.
Holy basil or ocimum sanctum-a short description
It is a perennial shrub, that grows up to a maximum height of about two or three feet. The main attraction of the plant, is its purplish green leaves and stems. Moreover, the leaves are having a very soothing fragrance and pungent flavour.
In Malayalam language, the plant is known as Krishna Tulasi. Tulsi or Tulasi is the common name for basil plants. Rama Tulasi, Vana tulasi etc. are different species of plants in the family.
Holy basil or ocimum sanctum- an important herb.
The holy basil plant is considered as the queen of herbs, and there are many reasons for this. It is one of the most important ingredients for the preparation of a lot of ayurvedic medicines. Especially for the treatment of respiratory disorders, skin problems, cardiac diseases etc.
In addition, we can use different combinations of the plant as home remedies for a number of ailments.
Given below are a few examples:
1. For fever and cough:
Boil a handful of holy basil leaves with one teaspoon each of crushed black pepper and dried ginger powder. Add enough honey and consume twice daily for better effect.
2. Insect bites: You will definitely feel a soothing sensation by applying a paste, made with leaves of holy basil and raw turmeric.
3. For a clear facial skin: Applying a mixture of tulasi leaf extract and milk, can remove acne and pimple scars.
4. Stress relief: Consuming a glass of water boiled with a few fresh tulasi leaves daily, can reduce anxiety and stress.
5. Also it is an effective remedy for insomnia or sleep disorders.
However, seek medical advice before using the plant for the preparation of home remedies. Because, studies have proved its adverse reactions in people with certain health conditions.
Holy basil or ocimum sanctum-cultural importance
Holy basil plant has got an important place in Buddhism as well as Hinduism. Especially in Hindu temples, where people worship Mahavishnu or Krishna as the main deity.
Surely it is the resemblance of colour, that made the plant to be known as Krishna tulasi. According to Indian scriptures, Krishna is depicted as karvarna, the one who has the complexion similar to that of rain clouds.
Similarly, Tulasi plant is the earthly manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Mahavishnu.
Likewise, devotees use a string of tulasi beads, for chanting.
Tulasi thara – a special platform for the auspicious plant
In the front yard of most of the traditional Kerala houses, we can see the tulasi thara. It is really a special platform made according to vaastu concepts, for worshipping the plant.
Also it is a custom to light the holy lamp near the plant daily, for prosperity and well being.
In many parts of the world, people use different species of basil plants for flavoring dishes. The sweet basil, Thai basil, Cinnamon basil, Lemon basil etc. are a few examples.
However, in Kerala, it is not common to use the holy basil plant for culinary purposes.
Holy basil or ocimum sanctum as a garden plant
Holy basil, one of the best garden plants
The plant with unique purplish green leaves and stems, is really attractive. You can grow it either directly in the soil or in pots.
A few basil plants with other flowering plants, can make our gardens look fantastic.
In a like manner, we can make a herb garden with plants that are essential for us in our daily life. Preferably as home remedies, for ailments like attacks from fever, cough, insect bites etc.
How to grow the holy basil plant
Surely we can propagate the holy basil plant through the germination of seeds. For this, always remember to collect mature ripe seeds from healthy mother plants.
You can sow the seeds in a pot filled with river sand. After that, water moderately on a regular basis. Generally, it doesn’t take more than ten days, for the seeds to start sprouting.
When it reaches a height of about two inches, we can re plant the saplings.
A potting medium prepared in the following ratio, is ideal for the plant.
River sand 30%
Dried cow dung or compost 30%
Garden soil 30%
Coco peat 10%
Provide the plant shade for a few days, so that it can adapt to the new environment easily.
Usually, the plant needs bright indirect sunlight for five to six hours a day. The fast growing plant starts branching out fairly, attaining a much prettier look.
Never forget to water the plant on a daily basis, for maintaining its health and beauty. In a like manner, feed the plant with an organic fertilizer at intervals of four to six weeks.
Normally there is no need to use any particular tools for pruning. Because you can pinch off the flower buds and stems, to make it appear bushy. Besides, we can keep the plant according to the required height, preferably not more than two or three feet.
Holy basil or ocimum sanctum plant for indoors
Balconies or indoors with sunlight for a few hours, is ideal for the plant. You can also keep potted tulasi plants along with your indoor plants like the Spider plant, ZZ plant, Aglaonema and the Snake plant.
Above all, a few bonsai plants can make your garden really amazing with potted holy basil plants. The Ficus ginseng microcarpa, Ficus Benjamina, the Fukien tea tree, Schefflera etc. are a few of them.
Definitely, growing a few holy basil plants in your garden, are beneficial to you in one way or the other.
Therefore keeping the above points in mind, try to grow holy basil plants for an environment full of positive energy.