Daily life

Tulsi and the "tulsinator"

10:17 AM

The plant above is known as tulsi in India and is belonging to the family of basil, in fact Holy Basil is one of its other name. Every Hindu household has to have one tulsi plant that will be worshiped by the ladies of the house, the reason being that this plant has various medicinal properties, the most famous being to help relieve the symptoms of cold as well as reducing stress levels.
DH and I tried to keep a tulsi plant alive but over the years our effort have been sabotaged by my notorious brown thumb (I joke saying I have a super withering stare and that plants die just being around me), the fact our terrasse is exposed full South doesn't help either, and our dog had a tulsi fanatic period and would shred any plant that didn't die in the sun.
We tried moving the plant around, watering it 3 times a day, listened to all kind of advices from family about how to keep a tulsi plant green, all failed, so much that last year after our last tulsi plant crashed on the ground during a storm forcing me to re-pot it and then see it die we decided this was a plant that would simply not be happy here and refused to waste money buying another one.
The months go by, the monsoon and and then late October and November rain helped the plantless pots to grow weeds which I keep watering when they sprout resigning myself to the fact that since I kill all acceptable plants no matter what I might as well give weeds a chance and they generally do better, gracing my terrasse with their lush green leaves. One in particular seemed to do pretty well, I found that little shrub slightly familiar but didn't connect the dot until it started blooming. The tulsi-typical pink cluster of flower appeared on top, too chicken to taste the leaves I first sniffed it it had a faint smell but a familiar one, then I showed it to DH who like me thought it might be tulsi but said we should taste it to be sure. So I took the plunge, and the strong familiar taste of tulsi hit us.
The plant above is the one I'm talking about, somehow the last one we purchased must have given seeds and some flew in other pots, which the late season rain nurtured so that I ended with this. Like all the tulsi plants I saw ours has small leaves with a strong almost bitter taste, but once boiled with tea leaves gives all its aroma.

Now imagine my surprise seeing this a couple of weeks ago:

Again it was the pink flowers on the tallest of all 5 plants that made me suspect tulsi, these all grew spontaneously in my potted ficus plant. The leaves are far bigger than everything I saw, the smell a bit stronger too, but yet the taste was definitely tulsi like, though unlike the small leaved one I have in a pot on its own, these leaves have a more aromatic taste.
This pot does get sun only late in the afternoon, the leaves of the ficus (whatever is left as it is struggling to live as everything else in this harsh sun), combined with the leaves of a potted palm tree nearby seem to provide plenty of shade so that the soil stays moist and the harsh zenith sun stays at bay allowing my tulsi to live a happy little life.

I always thought I was a tulsinator and when DH and I finally gave up trying to keep one from drying up here is what we get: 5 small plants with big thick leaves, and one with tiny leaves.
The second surprise is that we both never knew Tulsi could be so green, like me DH thought it was a shrub with tiny leaves as this is what he saw all around too.

Now here is a personal update, in the past few weeks we have been dealing with 3-4 hours of power cuts daily which left very little time for me to write n the blog. Ishita is crawling around at full speed for the past 3 weeks, forcing us to re-think how we store items in our house as she seems to have a built in danger and yuck radar. If there is something gross or downright dangerous she will find it and want to play with that. And she hasn't even figured out walking holding furniture yet, but is already trying to climb on things (with a minimal rate of success though).


  1. Aw..what a pleasant surprise Cynthia :) We worship Tulsi and believe that without Tulsi the Pooja is incomplete. I love the wonderful aroma of the plant. My FIL used to wear Tulsi maala and it is now with my DH. My mother has given me small silver tulsi with pot to worship here, also now that we are staying in Texas I am eagerly waiting to try grow one in the pot in summer. Whenever my sis or myself suffered my cold, my mom used to make 'Tulsi Kashaya' ( few tulsi leaves were boiled in water) which was very useful and made us to feel better!
    I wish all the luck for little tulsi plants to grow and stay healthy in your pot!

  2. This is a nice gift to get, is it easy to find Tulsi seeds in Texas?

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  4. Thanks Prachi,

    I can actually work in Idnia should I want to because I am a PIO card holder, foreigners married to indian citizens are elligible for it, and can come in an out of India and work without visa.
    I think if you find a job in US and get an employment offer then you can apply for a work visa, but I know it is a though one.

    Hang in there

  5. thats really good thing that u can work.......I have 2 wait for a green card or need to find a employer who can sponsor me a visa......long way 2 go.....


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