Growing Tulsi Organically – Cultivation, Farming

Growing Tulsi Organically – Cultivation, Farming, Production Practices

Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum L.) is a biennial shrub belonging to the family Lamiaceae and it is also called Basil, Holy basil, or Tulasi grown for its aromatic leaves. The Tulsi plant has been revered by the people of India for its medicinal uses since Vedic times. This aromatic plant has immense importance in Ayurveda, the ancient medicinal system of India. It is a species of basil used in Hindu religious ceremonies. The plant grows about 2 to 3 feet tall; have furry gray-green leaves and bloom in the summer, producing spikes of small pink flowers. These Tulsi plants are highly frost-sensitive. In this article we also discuss the below topics about Organic Tulsi Farming in India;

  • In which season Tulsi is grown
  • How can I make Tulsi grow faster?
  • How can we protect Tulsi from insects?
  • Which type of Tulsi plant is best for home
  • Does Tulsi need direct sunlight?
  • How to grow Tulsi plant organically
  • Homemade fertilizer for Tulsi plant
  • Organic manure for Tulsi plant

A Step-By-Step Guide to Growing Tulsi Organically

Tulsi plant is one of the chief sources of a large number of drugs and medicine. It has effective and remedial uses that are safe and effective, inexpensive about its availability. Due to its medicinal values, Tulsi is important to plant among other herb plants known for the medicinal properties.

Growing Tulsi Organically
Growing Tulsi Organically (Pic Source: Pixabay)

The most commonly grown Tulsi varieties are;

Rama Tulsi – Rama Tulsi is also called Bright Tulsi. It is a broader leaf variety and can be found in parts of China, Nepal, India, and Southern South America. Rama Tulsi is mainly used to promote healthy digestion and has a milder flavor. The leaves of these plants are light green in color and a little asymmetric. This plant variety grows well in pots and cultivated for its medicinal and religious purposes.

Krishna Tulsi– Krishna Tulsi is also called purple leaf basil. It is less common than the greener variety. It is useful for curing respiratory ailments, ear infections, and skin problems. It grows slower than other plant varieties, which may contribute to its spicy and pungent flavor. It is also less bitter and astringent than other cultivars. This plant variety has more medicinal uses than Rama Tulsi.  The leaves and stems of this Tulsi are purple, hence the name. Also, the leaves are broad and carry a pungent aroma.

Vana Tulsi – Vana Tulsi or Wild forest holy basil is the most difficult variety to find. This variety of Tulsi grows in gardens, as it can get tall and is quite hardy. Vana Tulsi leaves have a velvety texture and a distinct aroma and used in making teas. It is woody type perennial plant, aromatic and sacred species of holy basil in India.

Sweet Basil – It is the most commonly grown perennial plant, aromatic and culinary type species of basil, the plant has bigger green color leaves and stems.

Kapoor Tulsi – Common to Indian households, this plant variety also does well in containers. Also, this variety is easy and quick to grow.

Babi Tulsi – It is found in Punjab to Trivandrum and in Bengal, Bihar also. The height of the plant is about 1-2 feet tall. The leaves are 1 to 2 inches long, oval, and pointed. The taste of leave is like cloves and used for flavoring vegetables.  

Tukashmiya Tulsi – It is found in the Western regions of India and Persia. It is used to cure throat disorders and acidity.             

Thai Basil – Thai Basil is perennial, aromatic, and culinary type species of basil plants. The plant has green color pointed leaves, a reddish-purple color stem, and dark purple flowers.  

Amrita Tulsi – It is found all over India. It has dark purple color leaves which create a dense bush. It is mainly used in the treatment of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and dementia. It is a less commonly grown perennial plant and sacred species of basil in India.

Lemon Basil – The plant is a perennial, aromatic, and culinary type species of the basil plant. It has green leaves and white color flowers. It has a strong lemon scent and all parts of the leaves and stems are edible.

Choosing the Best Basil Seeds for Your Climate;

If you live in a colder climate, some plant varieties are well suited to withstanding chillier temperatures. You can visit your local seed distributor to get some personalized suggestions for growing conditions. Cold tolerant basil doesn’t tend to get as tall as tropical varieties, usually averaging a foot tall instead of almost 2 feet. Organic seed varieties of basil tend to be somewhat limited, but the sweet basil plant is the most common organic seed variety you will find.

The Tulsi Cultivated States in India

Tulsi plant is native to the Indian subcontinent and grows throughout Southeast Asia. It is cultivated in semi-urban areas and the fresh herbage is sold to the temples and worship centers. The main source of Tulsi is from wild habitats including uncultivated fields and roadside. Though, commercial production has significance due to valuable aroma chemicals extracted from the essential oil of Tulsi. It grows wild in tropics and warm regions.

Tulsi has grown throughout India from Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the Himalayas. Also, it is abundantly found in Malaysia, Australia, West Africa, and some of the Arab countries.

Tulsi plant is known for its medicinal values, antimicrobial and antiviral properties which helps in purifying the air. Normally, drugs obtained from Tulsi are used to cure stress, fever, decrease inflammation, and increases stamina. It is an annual shrub with an average height of about 2 to 4 feet. Tulsi flowers are small and purple. It is found throughout India but in Madhya Pradesh, it is found commonly.

Tulsi is also grown in temperate climates; the natural habitat of the Tulsi plant varies from sea level to an altitude of 2000 m. Tulsi grows naturally in moist soil all over the globe. The commercial production of Tulsi in India finds its application in the manufacture of aromatic substances and essential oils. It is cultivated extensively in France, Indonesia, Morocco, Greece, Hungary, Israel, and the United States.

Soil Preparation for Growing Tulsi Organically

Sandy loam soil with good organic matter is considered ideal for the Tulsi plants. Fertile and well-aerated soil is ideal for the Tulsi plant. If you are planning to plant Tulsi outdoors, make sure that the soil is well-dug. Though, mixing organic compost or cow dung is a good method to make the soil fertile and facilitate proper aeration. And, make sure that the soil and the compost are weed-free.

Tulsi plant thrives well on a variety of soils. For Tulsi cultivation, rich loam to poor laterite, saline, and alkaline to moderately acidic soils is well suitable. Well-drained soil helps better vegetative grown. The waterlogged condition can cause root-rot and result in stunted plant growth. The Tulsi plant can be grown under partially shaded conditions but with low oil contents. Tulsi plant flourishes well under fairly high rainfall and humid conditions. Topical and sub-tropical climate (at altitudes up to 900m.) is suited for its cultivation.

Climate and Land Requirement for Growing Tulsi Organically

Tulsi plants are grown successfully in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Long days with high-temperature levels have been found favorable for plant growth and oil production. It requires warm temperature levels to germinate and kept in a place that’s at least 21°C.

For cultivating Tulsi, the land is brought to a fine tilth and laid out into plots of convenient sizes for irrigation purposes. Then, it is preferable to add 15 tonnes of FYM (farmyard manure) per hectare during the preparation of land and mix well in the soil.

Tulsi plant requires worm environment for its growth as worm temperature help plant to boost growth and grow very fast so always grow then in direct sunlight. Soil rich in nutrients will help to Tulsi plant to grow fast.

Spacing Requirements for Growing Tulsi Organically

Depending upon Tulsi plant growth habit, prepare seedbeds of about 4.5 x 1.0 x 0.2m size. Seeds should be sown at a distance of about 60 cm by 60 cm. The distance between the beds mainly depends on available cultivation equipment and end-user. Normally, large commercial producers use a mechanical planter or a vegetable seeder. The seeding rate will depend on the desired planting density, in turn, depends on the end market.

Sowing Depth and Method of Sowing in Organic Tulsi Farming

Seeds are sown at depth of about 2 cm. Seeds are sown in nursery beds 2 months before planting. Apply FYM / compost by 2 kg/bed and mix well with soil. Seeds are sown at a depth of about 1 to 2 cm and cover with soil or FYM. Since the seeds are small, mix with sand by 4 times the quantity of seeds for sowing and the seed rate is 500 g per hectare. Then, Tulsi seeds germinate by 8 to 12 days and ready for transplanting by 6 weeks after planting. Apply FYM or compost by 10t ha-1before transplanting and mix well with soil. Two months old seedlings are transplanted at a spacing of about 30 cm and irrigate the crop on alternate days up to 2 weeks after planting. After 2 weeks, irrigate the crop by 2 irrigations/week.

Seed Rate and Seed treatment for Growing Tulsi Organically

For Tulsi plantation use a seed rate of about 120 grams per acre. Then, to protect Tulsi plants from pests and soil-borne diseases, before sowing seeds treat with Mancozeb by 5gm/kg of seeds.

Propagation for Growing Tulsi Organically

Tulsi plant is propagated through seeds. Tulsi seeds will get deteriorated over generations, due to their high cross-pollination. Therefore, for fresh plantings, the growers have to take fresh seeds from the pedigree stock. Tulsi seeds germinate easily and the seeds are mainly sown in the spring season. They are watered from time to time and germinated in about 1 to 2 weeks. Tulsi plant prefers rich soil for its growth. It requires full sunlight and it is mainly grown in the temperate climate.

For propagating Tulsi through seeds, they are to be sown in the nursery beds. For sowing of 1 hectare about 300g of seeds are required. The nursery must be located preferably in partial shade with adequate irrigation facilities. Soil is worked up to a depth of about 30 cm well rotten FYM is applied to the soil. They germinate in 8 to 12 days and seedlings are ready for transplanting in about 6 weeks at the 4-5 leaf stage.

Vegetative propagation – Tulsi plant can also be propagated by the vegetative method. For this vegetative propagation, using terminal cuttings with about 90 to 100% success when planted during October-December months. For this purpose, cuttings with 8 to 10 nodes and 10 to 15 cm length are used. They are so prepared that except for the first 2 to 3 pairs of leaves the rest are trimmed off. Later, the cuttings are planted in the well-prepared nursery beds. In about 4-6 weeks the rooting is complete and they are ready for transplanting into the main field. The plants are transplanted at a spacing of about 40 cm between the rows.

Irrigation Requirement for Growng Tulsi Organically

Irrigation mainly depends upon the moisture content of the soil. In the summer season, three irrigation per month is necessary, whereas in the rainy season no irrigation is required. About 12 to 15 irrigation are enough during the year. The water must be adequate for the plant and the soil should not be allowed to become too damp which can result in root decay. Apply mulch to conserve soil moisture.  However, before harvesting, irrigation must be discontinued.

Manures and Fertilizers Requirements for Growing Tulsi Organically

Medicinal plants like Tulsi plants have to be grown without chemical fertilizers and the use of pesticides. Organic manures such as Farm Yard Manure (FYM), Vermi-Compost, and Green Manure, etc. may be used as per the requirement of the plant species. To prevent Tulsi plants from diseases, use bio-pesticides can be prepared from Neem, Chitrakmool, Dhatura, and Cow’s urine, etc. An application of natural and organic fertilizer once or twice during the season will help promote sturdy plant growth.

Tulsi plant needs outside help in the form of fertilizers to maintain the soil nutrient levels and fertilize the soil with organic compost once a month. Also, cow dung is an excellent manure to enrich the soil. Fertilize your Tulsi plant once a month. Use a liquid fertilizer or organic compost like cow manure, to maintain the nutrients in the soil. Feed the basil plants with general purpose fertilizer 10-10-10 or 19-19-19. If you are growing basil organically, add a good dose of organic compost when the time of planting and after pruning. Also, adding Epsom salts for herbs will bring out a lush green crop. Remember this when growing basil. Do not over-fertilize the Basil plants. Basil plants grow well but the flavor will be compromised. These cultivating tips on basil plant care will help you harvest good quality basil leaves.

Weed Control and Pruning Methods for Growing Tulsi Organically

Usually, weeding and hoeing can be done to keep the field free from weed. If weed left uncontrolled then it will reduce the growth of the Tulsi crop. In the beginning, weeding is done after 1 month after planting along with the second four weeks after the first. Just one hoeing after 2 months of planting is ideal. The advantage of pruning the Tulsi plant is to control its size and promote bushier and more compact plant growth. Remove no more than half of the growth of the stem while pruning the Basil plant.

Pests and Diseases Control Methods for Growing Tulsi Organically

Some medicinal plants like Tulsi require production involving minimal or no usage of chemical pesticides. Some organic practices include control measures using neem-based formulations. Fish oil resin soap can be used to manage such sucking pests in Tulsi plants. Tulsi crop is generally free from pests and diseases. However, when grown in poor conditions, the Tulsi plant can be attacked by some common pests like mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites, and sometimes whiteflies. For treating Tulsi pests, use organic pesticides or insecticidal soap.

Aphids – Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that are commonly green and black colors.

There are numerous methods of aphid control, including botanical sprays like insecticidal soap, pyrethrum, rotenone, and horticultural oils. Beneficial insects like ladybugs will also help to eradicate the pest.

Leafhoppers – Leafhoppers are a common problem for field growers and identifiable by their light green bodies. Leafhoppers can be detected by the presence of white or pale yellow spots on Tulsi leaves. The damage caused is not solely cosmetic since these insects are known to transmit viral diseases.

Some botanical sprays like neem, pyrethrum, and horticultural oil sprays are your best bet for controlling leafhoppers.

Whitefly – Sap-sucking insects that are visible to the naked eye, whiteflies have slender white bodies and wings and tend to congregate on the undersides of plant leaves to feed. Some botanical sprays such as pyrethrum, rotenone, and horticultural oil sprays.

Fusarium – Mainly affecting sweet basil varieties, it is vascular wilt caused by a fungus. Symptoms of this disease include wilted leaves, stunted plants, and vertical brown stripes on the stem. These appear late in the growing season and are first noticed on the older leaves.

Choose resistant varieties to control this disease. If the Fusarium disease strikes, it’s best to remove the entire plant.

Botrytis – This gray-brown fuzzy growth can appear on plant debris that has fallen from the Tulsi plant or on the remaining stem after harvest.

The best method to control botrytis is to keep a clean growing environment since there are no fungicides listed for use on basil.

Leaf Spot – Bacterial leaf spots are encouraged by wet, humid conditions and disseminated through splashing water and best identified by black spots on the leaves.

The best control for this disease is to buy disease-resistant seeds or plant material. Maintain good air circulation through consistent harvesting. Then, remove diseased plant material to help keep it from spreading.

Some important tips for controlling Basil pests organically;

  • Generally, neem spray is a viable option for controlling basil pests like thrips, beetles, whiteflies, and aphids.
  • To control some Basil pests, insecticidal soaps are available in ready-to-use spray bottles or as a concentrate.
  • To prevent some common diseases, choose a site with good air circulation, and apply organic fungicides like copper and sulfur solutions early when symptoms first appear.
  • Neem Spray Insecticide – One of the most common and viable options is neem spray. It is an effective deterrent against insects and pests.
  • Garlic Spray – The pungent aroma of garlic spray is effective in repelling bugs and pests away.
  • Pepper Spray – Pepper spray is a potent repellent that knocks numerous pests effectively.

When and How to Harvest Tulsi

Usually, care should be taken while harvesting Tulsi to avoid any type of contamination.  Clean all the surfaces that come into contact with the plant during and after harvest the crop. The first harvest is obtained at 90 to 95 days of planting. Thereafter, it may be harvested at every 65 to 75 days interval. Harvesting must be done usually on bright sunny days for high and good quality oil. The crop should be cut at 15 to 20 cm above the ground level.

Generally, fresh basil is tender and damaged by rough handling, desiccation, and chilling. Harvested basil is dipped in cool water to reduce the temperature and to help dislodge soil particles and some of the insect’s pests. It is very important to drain off the free water before packing the product.

Profit in Tulsi Farming

The cultivation of medicinal plants or pharmacological plants for farmers is very beneficial. You will not need a huge amount for starting cultivating Tulsi. An investment of around 15 to 20 thousand rupees is needed for one-hectare land. However, there can be other requirements such as weeding, and irrigation, etc. Though, the main advantage of cultivating medicinal plants like Tulsi is that it gives good profits in a short time.  For example, by investing just Rs. 15000 to 20000 for one hectare you can earn 3 to 4 lakhs in 3 months.

In case if you are interested in this: Organic Cocoa Production.


  1. I am also interested for contract farming. I have land at Jetalsar, Dist. Rajkot, Gujarat. Currently I am cultivating cotton. Please guide me to develop herbal farming

  2. Is there any association of tulsi growers. We want to become a member and understand more about the cultivation and marketing.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here