Diseases & Nutrients

Examining For Root Problems and Sickness

Re-Potting

To help prevent Tulasi wilting or getting stressed, never re-pot in full sun or during the heat of the day. The best time is on a cool day, or when the sun has dissipated, around 4pm.

Tulasi grows best in unglazed clay pots, as they allow for air movement through the sides of the pot. Avoid glazed or plastic pots because the air cannot penetrate.

Tulasi devi will let you know if she is “pot-bound” (in need of re-potting), by one of the following signs.

  1. When her roots are coming out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot.
  2. Shows signs of slight wilt hours after she has received water. (This indicates it is past the correct time for re-potting). Tulasi will then need to go into a pot much bigger than the normal potting on size, which is one size up.
  3. Lower leaves get sickly yellow. (A plant shares what nutrients and water it can absorb with its growing tips first so the older leaves suffer).
  4. Leaf size gets smaller.

To Check If Tulasi Requires Re-Potting

  1. Water first and allow to drain completely.
  2. If the Tulasi to be re-potted is small, take the pot in one hand under the bottom and place the open fingers and palm of the other hand on the dirt at the base of the stem. Turn upside down. Place a stick or your finger in the hole at the bottom of the pot (it should rest against the crock inside) then push. Tulasi and soil should come out in one action.
  3. If she does not drop out into your hands bring the pot upright again and run a pallet knife carefully around the sides to release any little roots which may have stuck into the pot. If the roots have not filled the pot then just put her back in the same pot. If the roots completely fill the soil area so the root ball is in the shape of the pot it is time to re-pot. If the root ball looks solid and you can see those strong white roots, Tulasi is healthy and you can move to the next step.

When examining a sick Tulasi, if roots look black and soft and the root ball smells sour, then root-rot is indicated. Remove what you can and re-pot but be prepared as there may be little hope of salvage.

To Re-Pot

  1. Soak the new clay pot in water until the bubbles stop. (New pots are porous and will draw water from the soil and the plant if not soaked first.)
  2. Prepare new pot by putting “crock” (broken pottery) in the bottom of the pot making a small bridge over the drainage hole. This keeps the soil from running out and allows water to drain out.
  3. Place enough fresh soil in the bottom of the pot over the crock to allow Tulasi to sit in pot at the right height.
  4. Take Tulasi from old pot using above method. Gently loosen soil, removing any old crock and carefully separate and straighten any roots that have circulated in the old pot. Place Tulasi in new pot.
  5. Keeping the Tulasi central and straight, add more soil up to the same marking on the stem as before. Water in and add feed to the soil to help her recover from the shock of transplanting. Place her in the shade for a few days to help her settle. Then place her back in the sun.

If the Tulasi to be re-potted is far too big to be taken out by previous method and it is quite evident that she is in need of re-potting, then use following instructions; Prepare new pot as above. Water the Tulasi first and allow to drain.

Lay plastic sheeting on the floor. Lay the Tulasi on it taking care not to damage her branches. First try pushing her out firmly with a stick as above. If this is too difficult you will have to break the pot. Using a hammer and a folded up cloth to absorb the shock of impact, hit the side of the pot and remove. Follow steps 1-6.

Depending on how Tulasi grows, at some point you may need to use support sticks. It can be quite damaging to Tulasi’s roots to push any support stick in the soil next to her stem. The best method to use in to place either bamboo cane or plastic coated steel rods in the soil at the edge of the pot and then secure the stem to the support stick with fine string, or if you prefer, thin ribbon.

Nutrition

All plants need vital nutrients if they are to grow healthily. The three major plant foods which are essential to plant growth are:

Nitrogen (N) derived from nitrates or ammonia.

Function: To give plants their dark green colour and helps the growth of leaves and stems.

Phosphorus (P) derived from ground rock.

Function: Root development – encourages blooming and seed formation.

Potash (K) derived from seaweed and wood ash.

Function: Strengthens resistance to disease and poor conditions. Stimulates flowering.

Tulasi will need the additional supplemental nutrients to be added to the soil to help replenish the nutrients as she uses them. Feed and Iron are essential to her health and growth.

Avoid fertilizers containing ingredients from sewage treatments or slaughter houses. Bone Meal, Dried Blood, Hoof and Horn, Fish Compound. You may find the list below helpful when making your choice.

Maxicrop Complete Garden Feed.

This general all-purpose fertilizer has a natural, organic seaweed extract base to which have been added Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash. The source of nitrogen is urea derived from heating ammonia and carbon dioxide by very high pressure. Apply when watering as a root drench during spring and summer fortnightly.

Miracle Grow

The nutrients from this product are also derived from ground rock and natural ingredients. Follow instructions on the label.

Multi Tonic

This is an all round tonic, good for the soil after the winter, which is applied in early spring. One application will normally last all season. This adds vital trace elements to the soil. Ingredients are: Sequestered Iron � which cannot be chemically locked up or washed out of the soil and is therefore steadily released to the plants over a long period. Ingredients: Manganese, Magnesium, Zinc, Boron, Molybdenum Copper, and Sulphur.

Maxicrop Sequestered Iron

This is for Tulasi’s Iron intake and for the prevention of yellowing (chlorosis). Again, this product has a natural organic seaweed extract base with the addition of Ferrous Sulphate and Trisodium Citrate. The former is a by-product from steel production and the latter is obtained from glucose and molasses. This is added to the soil when watering and also use das a foliage spray. Again, like the feed, give fortnightly.

Maxicrop Plant Growth Stimulant

This product is a pure seaweed extract and is totally natural and organic and has the approval of the Soil Association.

Maxicrop products do not contain derivatives from slaughterhouses or sewage treatment works.

Cow Manure

If using cow manure, only use if it has aged for a year as when fresh it burns the roots.

Use 1 part dry manure to 3 parts water – let it stand overnight, then dilute to a weak tea colour. Use fortnightly. Cow manure may not always be enough because Tulasi will still require other nutrients. The fertilizer brands above come complete and are easier to use.

Natural Liquid Fertilisers

Going back to nature, the old traditional ways, long before chemicals were introduced, fertilizers were made from plants like nettles and comfrey. They are quite effective because the nutrients are released into the soil very quickly. Liquid feeds are quite easy to make. All sorts of plants and herbs can be used. There are several ways of making your own liquid fertilizer.

  1. Soak plants in water for a few weeks and keep covered. During this time fermentation takes place as foam gathers on top.
  2. Soak plants in cold water for 24 hours, then bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 20-30 minutes. Allow to stand overnight.
  3. Another method is to soak plants in cold water for a few days then strain before it ferments.

As Tulasi is a perennial plant and grows outdoors naturally in the warmer regions of Asia, she will only survive our colder climates in green house conditions. Here she continues to stay green rather than completely losing all her leaves. Tulasi will have her fall like most tress and bushes mostly during the winter months. It is at this time she will reduce the rate of producing Manjaris.

During the late autumn decrease her feed and iron intake by half the quantity and apply only once a month. During the winter months stop altogether as she is receiving her rest. Begin again in spring.

Lighting

Tulasi devi is at her best in natural sunlight. The required amounts are between 4-5 hours of direct sunlight daily. Plants that do not receive sufficient sunlight grow spindly as they are trying to reach areas where there is more light, rather than the shade they are growing in.

Symptoms: Thin weak stems and branches with long tem lengths between the pairs of leaves, and large pale green leaves. If the plant suffers with severe sunlight deprivation, it will be under so much stress that the leaves will drop off and the branches will abort. It is essential to use artificial light on overcast days where there is little or no natural sunlight.

So! Which lighting does Tulasi need?

First let’s take a look at light rays. Fluorescent tubes give off red and blue rays, whereas incandescent light gives off red and far-red. For plants this means that the blue rays excite the foliage action and the red rays work on flower growth. So when you combine natural light with artificial, the rays increase and the plants or flowers receive what they need.

Plant growth lamps are easily available with names like “Gro-lux” or “Plant Light”. Daylight tubes and Grow-lux are a good combination. Fluorescent tubes can come in a variety of different lengths, intensities and quality of light. Plants like Tulasi grow well with a cool-white fluorescent because the foliage can be as close as 3-4 inches without burning from the high intensity. However incandescent house light (which is not very effective) would need to be 12-18 inches above the plant or they will burn.

So to recap:

If Tulasi is not receiving up to 4-5 hours of natural direct sunlight daily, she will need assistance from cool white fluorescent tubes and daylight tubes or grow-lux tubes with day light tubes which will provide the wavelengths needed for her growth. These lights are suspended over the foliage but need to be close to her  approx. 4 inches, but not touching as this will burn her leaves. 12 hours of artificial lighting is equivalent to 4 hours of sunlight. Check frequently to ensure that the Tulasi branches and leaves are not touching the light tubes.