Holy Basil, aka tulasi or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) annual
This is a plant I love having inside; when I am near it or touch it the fragrance is lovely, especially when dried.
Holy basil prefers full sunlight and plenty of water. The leaves of holy basil are grey-green in color, coarse to the touch, and have rigged edges. Basil leaves are deep green and tend to be smooth with smooth edges. Both plants can grow more than two-feet tall and two-feet wide. The flower of the basil plant is generally white while the flower of holy basil is lavender in color.
A potent herb that has been used in India for thousands of years to treat colds, coughs, and the flu, ease stress and promote longevity. According to Ayurveda, holy basil promotes purity and lightness in the body, cleansing the respiratory tract of toxins, and relieving digestive gas and bloating. Holy basil leaves offer a rich source of essential oil, containing eugenol, nerol, camphor, and a variety of terpenes and flavonoids. The oil is a strong antiseptic against many kinds of disease-causing organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
As the name would imply, holy basil has spiritual as well as medicinal significance in Ayurveda. In Hindu mythology, the plant is an incarnation of the goddess Tulsi, offering divine protection. Many Indian families keep a living holy basil plant in their homes, and tend to it with great care and reverence.
How to Use Holy Basil
Use holy basil freely in your cooking and in making freshly brewed tea. If you’re making tea, simply cover 2 teaspoons of fresh holy basil with 1 cup of boiling water, and let it steep for about 5 minutes. Strain the leaves before drinking.
To benefit from the health-promoting effects, nibble on a few leaves every day. Always check with your health care practitioner before consuming any herbs.
Basil and holy basil leaves can be dried and mixed into potpourri.
Direct seed: Plant seeds 1/4″ deep, 2-3 seeds per inch, in rows 18″ apart. Firm the soil over the seeds. Thinning is not necessary, but a final spacing of 4-8″ apart produces healthy, full plants. Note: Holy Basil requires some light for germination, so sow more shallowly than other basils.
Transplant: Sow indoors 6 weeks prior to setting out. Plant 1/4″ deep and keep at 70°F (21°C) for best germination. Transplant when seedlings have 3-4 sets of leaves, spacing at 4-8″ apart in rows 18″ apart.