During seasonal changes, Tulasi devi will require careful monitoring as her need to absorb water will vary according to the time of year. Watering is best done early morning, before 8am, to meet the demands of photosynthesis. Some will dry out quicker than others. Check for: pot size, soil type, size of foliage, temperature and humidity. This will give indications as to how quickly she will absorb water. The following guidelines are recommended.
Check the topsoil by hand, carefully feeling with your fingers to see if the soil is dry, you can go down 2-3 inches in large pots. Water thoroughly so that the water runs out of the hole in the bottom of the pot. This will ensure the root ball system is completely soaked through. Then leave soil to dry again. It can be difficult to estimate how long this will take, as weather, season and environment will dictate conditions. To prevent Tulasi from sucking water up from her root system at the base of the pot, place the pot on blocks to allow the water to run through freely. Good drainage is crucial to Tulasi’s health, (see illustration on page 22). Never let her sit in water.
Always ensure water is left to stand overnight before use. This allows any chlorine and other chemicals to dissipate and also allows water to reach room temperature. If the water is very cold t will cause problems to the roots, and this in turn will show on the foliage.
If the soil is over-watered there will be too much moisture. The hair roots which take in the nutrients will not be able to breathe. This is because the water has filled all the air spaces. This in turn damages the root system causing root-rot. Tulasi devi will show no immediate signs but within a week some of the lower leaves will go yellow and she will look miserable as she is in stress. The leaves will become pale and turn brown on the edges. Once root-rot sets in, it can take a long time for her to regain her strengths. In some cases, if over-watering has gone on unchecked for too long, the root system will become diseased and there will be little hope of salvage. All that can be done at this point is to take her out of the pot, remove what you can, change the soil, lightly water and wait.
If the soil is left too dry, Tulasi leaves will appear limp and dropping. Then upon receiving water within 48 hours she will drop healthy green leaves. This is caused by her roots shrinking due to lack of moisture and then going into shock when eventually watered. If this goes on unchecked for too long, she will leave her body as this condition causes too much stress to the root system. Another form of under-watering is when not enough water is given. The Tulasi leaves will droop, the top soil will show moisture but the bottom half of the soil still remains dry. This is very stressful to Tulasi and also to the one who is watering her, as you will be reading two different signals.
During the early part of spring Tulasi will begin to awaken from her dormant winter condition in which she takes rest. New growth will appear slowly and the soil will start to show signs of drying out more as Tulsa’s fibrous root system absorbs more moisture. This can take between 4-5 days on average depending on the pot and size of foliage. As the season moves into late spring Tulasi starts to grow more quickly as the climate warms towards summer. The soil will then dry out on average between 3-4 days.
During summer months when the sun is at its hottest, temperatures can reach over 110° F under glass in the greenhouse. As an average guide, in the height of the summer expect the soil to dry within 2-3 days. This is not only due to the heat but also because most of Tulasi’s energy goes into producing Manjaris at an incredibly fast rate. It is therefore essential to monitor each Tulasi individually and on a daily basis as she will dry out very quickly.
During the cooling autumn months, Tulasi gradually begins to slow down her rate of growth and produces less Manjaris. As the weather cools she will absorb less water and the soil will stay moist longer. An average guide at this time of year for watering is generally every 3-4 days especially as the season moves towards late autumn.
It is during the winter months that Tulasi takes her rest and becomes dormant. Her need to absorb water is greatly reduced. An average guide at this time of year for watering can vary between 5-6, even 7 days, depending on the individual Tulasi and pot size. Great care needs to be taken at this time as over watering can cause serious problems to her root system.
One last word on watering: The above are guidelines only. As you get to know your Tulasi you will develop an inner response to her needs. As time goes by you will be shown by her appearance if she looks happy and healthy then you’re in touch with that response. If she looks sad and in stress then you’re missing something. Go through the list of possible causes and make any adjustments needed.
Humidity And Spraying
Whether you are growing Tulasi at home on a window ledge, patio, or greenhouse it is very important to maintain humidity levels.
As Tulasi is growing in an artificial environment it is essential to replicate Mother Nature to our best ability. Indoors or under glass, Tulasi’s foliage needs to be sprayed every day with water using a fine mist spray as this substitutes the morning dew. Tulasi absorbs water sprayed directly onto her leaves, this also helps raise the humidity level and helps prevent her leaves from curling or dying out. It is also beneficial to raise the pot on blocks and place in a large tray or saucer, which has been covered with perlite “sponge rock” or gravel. This will make it easier to water, with the excess water being allowed to run freely and collect in the tray, which will also increase the humidity levels. Check occasionally to make sure that Tulasi’s roots are not protruding out from the bottom of the hole in the pot and trailing in the water. If this occurs and goes on unchecked she will absorb too much water and go brown on the leaf tips, causing damage to the root system.
Iron and Feed can be added to the Tulasi spray bottle twice a month on alternate weeks during spring and summer and once a month during autumn. No Iron or Feed is given during the winter months as Tulasi becomes dormant at this time.
During the growing season Tulasi devi appears to grow best with the temperature at around 75-80° F in the day and 60° F at night. Whether sitting on a window ledge or in a greenhouse, some windows can be opened during the daytime for ventilation but be sure to close them at night. There may still be signs of ground frost in the early part of spring. Avoid too much draft.
During the summer months Tulasi grows strong and healthy producing many manjaris. It would be quite a refreshing change for Tulasi if she is placed outside in her pot during the best part of summer. She will be fine left out over night. Care and consideration would need to be taken during any sudden freak storms. A Tulasi which has been grown under glass may not be as robust as a Tulasi grown wild in India. Also avoid any rough handling or heavy bangs to the pot as this can cause shock to the root system. However, if this is not practical due to the area in which you live, she will grow just as well indoors.
In the height of the summer during mid-day the temperature in a greenhouse can increase to over 110° F. This in turn can cause Tulasi some stress. To reduce this partially shade the outside of the greenhouse glass on the roof. This is done with “Cool-Glass” or “White-Out”, which s a powdered substance that is mixed with water and sprayed or painted directly on the outside of the glass roof (top panes only). This allows Tulasi to still receive sunlight, but not enough to singe her leaves or scorch her roots. Alternately, sun screens can be fitted on the inside of the glass roof and operated when needed by hand. Temperatures at night on the inside are comfortable of Tulasi at 55° F to 60° F but only during summer conditions. No heating is required at night during the summer months.
Autumn temperature requirements are 75-80° F during the day and 60° F at night. If Tulasi is next to a window open during the day and close at night as the season moves closer to winter.
During winter months it is crucial that the temperature does not fall below 55° F. Day time temperature needs to be 75-80° F and night-time 60° F to be safe. Tulasi is extremely sensitive to the cold. Whether grown at home or in a greenhouse she will require a heater. Check that all windows are closed at night as the winter draft can kill her overnight.