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Tulsi Bonsai

How to Grow and Care For Tulsi Bonsai

Do you know that this mini-tree won the prize for the best new horticultural development at the just-completed IPM Horticulture show?

The Tulsi leaves are quite popular in cooking and have medicinal properties. However, growing the Tulsi bonsai can be a hassle, requiring sprouting, transferring into the ground from seed, and regular care to prevent disease and pests.

But the Winner of the competition, Hishtil, has grown the plant so that it can be kept indoors in the pot. 

So, isn’t it fascinating to learn how such a challenging plant has been grown into a bonsai tree?

Well, in this article, you will find how to grow and care for Tulsi bonsai easily and resolve your every question related to Tulsi bonsai.

Buying an outdoor bonsai tree is a great way to add a unique and beautiful touch to your outdoor space. With a variety of species and sizes available, you can find an outdoor bonsai tree to suit any taste and space. However, it’s important to research the specific care requirements of your chosen tree to ensure it thrives in your outdoor environment. Shop around to find the perfect outdoor bonsai tree for you. 

What Is Tulsi Bonsai?

The practice of growing bonsai started in China, but it was Japanese gardeners who developed ways of making bonsai trees look natural and aged. Over time, bonsai art has developed rules which become standards for what the classic bonsai style should look like.

Tulsi Bonsai is just an herb that is developed into a bonsai tree. Mainly there are two ways to develop this bonsai plant: seed or cuttings or through grafting into a bonsai trunk.

There are many varieties of Tulsi; in addition, they are annual herbs. These species are usually grown in spring and die as soon as the first frost arrives. Due to this reason, it is cultivated into bonsai so that it can harvest fresh Tulsi for longer than a year.

Types Of Tulsi Varieties

Before we discuss the types of Tulsi, it is important to know that not all Tulsi varieties can be turned into bonsai because to grow a successful bonsai tree, it needs to have a leaf-to-stem proportion and ideally be a perennial variety. 

In addition, many people make the mistake of thinking that a bonsai requires a “dwarf” or special trees. It certainly isn’t true.

Many bonsai growers say that a successful bonsai culture is having all the plants proportional, in simple words, balanced or in harmony with the size of the tree and the pot it is planted in.

Therefore, to grow a healthy bonsai, the plant you select to grow into bonsai should have the following characteristics:

  • Small leaves 
  • A minimum distance between leaf nodes.
  • Attractive-looking bark or roots.
  • Good branches for beautiful forms.

Important note: Some Tulsi varieties are perennial only in warm or tropical areas. If this is not your case, bring the plant inside during the winter and use some supplementary grow light.

1. Rama Tulsi

This type of Tulsi has pure green leaves and better winter and sunlight tolerance. However, the plant requires more watering and fertilization than the other varieties of Tulsi. Moreover, the queen of herbs is one of the most worshiped aromatic herbs found in almost every house in India.

Botanical nameOcimum Sanctum
Common nameRam Tulsi
LocationOutdoors
LightFull sun
WateringDaily, except winters
TemperatureLoves range from 15 to 40-degree Celsius

2. Krishna Tulsi 

This plant has purple fringed leaves and purple stems with a pungent and strong test of leaves. Besides, it has more medicinal properties than other species.

Botanical nameOcimum tenuifloroum
Common nameKrishna Tulsi
LocationOutdoors
LightFull sun
WateringDaily, except winters
Temperature20 to 45 degrees Celsius

3. Amrita Tulsi

This plant is a less commonly grown perennial, aromatic, and sacred species of holy basil in India.

Botanical nameOcimum tenuifloroum
Common namesAmrita Tulsi
LocationOutdoors
LightFull sun
WateringDaily, except winters
Temperature15 to 40 degrees Celsius

4. Vana Tulsi 

This is a woody perennial, aromatic, sacred species of holy basil in India.

Botanical nameOcimum gratissum
Common nameVana Tulsi
LocationOutdoors 
LightFull sun
WateringDaily, except winters
Temperature 15 to 40 degrees Celsius 

5. Sweet basil 

It is the most commonly grown perennial, aromatic, and culinary-type species of Tulsi. Also, this plant has bigger green color leaves and stems.

Botanical nameOcimum basilicum
Common nameBasil
LocationOutdoors
LightFull sun
WateringDaily, except winters
Temperatureto 35 degrees Celsius

6. Thai Basil

It is a perennial, aromatic, and culinary species. The plant has green color pointed leaves and reddish-purple color stem, and dark purple color flowers.

Botanical nameOcimum thyrsiflora
Common nameThai Basil
LocationOutdoors
LightFull sun
WateringDaily, except winter
Temperature10 to 35 degrees Celsius 

7. Purple Basil

This is also grown perennial, aromatic, and has culinary uses. It has bigger purple color leaves and stems.

Botanical nameOcimum basilicum
Common namePurple Basil
LocationOutdoors
LightFull sun
WateringDaily, except winters
Temperature to 35 degrees Celsius

8. Lemon Basil

The plant has green color leaves and white flowers. Moreover, it has a strong lemon scent, and all parts of the flowers, and leaves, are edible. It is also called Lemon basil, Thai lemon basil, Lao basil, or yellow basil. It is a hybrid of sweet basil and American basil.

Botanical nameOcimum citriodorum
Common nameslemon basil, Lao basil, or yellow basil.
LocationOutdoors
Light Full sun
WateringDaily, except winters
Temperatureto 35 degrees Celsius

9. Vietnamese Basil

This basil plant is perennial, aromatic, and culinary, with green foliage, reddish-purple stems, and pink flowers.

Botanical nameOcimum Cinnamon
Common nameVietnamese Basil
LocationOutdoors
LightFull sun
WateringDaily, except winters
Temperature to 35 degrees Celsius 

10. American Basil

It has green-colored pointed leaves, purple-colored stems, and purple-colored flowers and is a perennial herb of aromatic and culinary-type basil. Because of its rich color, sweet flavor, cleanliness, and particle size uniformity, it is of very high quality.

Botanical nameOcimum Americanum
Common nameAmerican Basil
LocationOutdoors
LightFull sun
WateringDaily, except winters
Temperature to 35 degrees Celsius 

11. African Blue Basil

This perennial, aromatic, and culinary type of basil, has green color leaves and purple color flowers. In addition, it has a strong camphor scent, and all parts of the flowers, leaves, and stems are edible.

Botanical nameOcimum kilimandscharicum
Common nameBlue Basil, Kapur Tulsi
LocationOutdoors
LightFull sun
Watering Daily, except winters
Temperature to 35 degrees Celsius 

12. Italian Genovese Basil

Classic Italian species with large dark green leaves; is primarily grown as a perennial, aromatic, and culinary basil plant. The plant has striking green leaves and stems.

Botanical nameOcimum basilicum
Common nameItalian Basil
Location Outdoors
LightFull sun
WateringDaily, except winters
Temperature10 to 35 degrees Celsius 

Two Ways to Start Tulsi Bonsai 

Growing From Seeds

  • Fill the pot with high-quality soil and water it in a thorough manner. Make sure you leave an inch pace at the pot’s top layer. Add sufficient water to moisten the soil but do not make the soil soggy.
  • If you are planning to grow Tulsi bonsai outdoor, it is always better to start the growth of Tulsi in an indoor location before transferring it to an outdoor location. You can get Tulsi seeds from the garden stores.
  • Sow the seed at a depth of one-fourth inch below the soil. As Tulsi seeds are tiny, you can sprinkle the seeds on the top layer of the soil. Gently press them down into the soil surface using your fingers, or you can even sightly tamper them.
  • Keep the soil moist until the germination of seeds takes place. The seed will take about 7 to 15 days to germinate.
  • As Tulsi seeds are delicate and sensitive, try to use a spray bottle to mist the soil surface.
  • While watering, make sure you are doing it slowly and carefully so that you are not disturbing any of the seeds.
  • Cover the top layer of the pot using plastic wrap; it will help seal the moisture inside. Make sure you are monitoring the soil regularly. Also, keep adding water whenever required.
  • Place the pot close to a window that is warm and sunny. Tulsi plant requires almost 6 to 8 hours of sunlight during the day, and the temperature should be a minimum of 21 degrees Celsius. Place the pot in a spot where it would be able to receive a large quantity of sunlight.
  • Moreover, be careful that you are not leaving the pot close to any window or door which is open if the temperature is decreasing at night.

Growing From Cuttings

Start with cuttings 3 to 6 inches long (8 to 15 cm), removing the lower half of the leaves.

Mix 1 part perlite, 1 part vermiculite, and 4 parts coarse builder’s sand with 4 parts water in a shallow pot. Soak the stems for 6 to 12 hours in the rooting medium, then stick them in the pot.

Tulsi Bonsai Caring Tip

Lighting

Traditional bonsai plants are always grown outdoors. However, bonsai plants are only taken indoors for certain amounts of time to display and then back outdoors. 

Tulsi bonsai, just like ordinary Tulsi in pots, are taken indoors in the winter to prevent them from dying. For indoor settings, lighting is important.

The best lighting setup is a well-equipped greenhouse or a solar room, but many gardeners report success placing Tulsi bonsai near the windowsill.

Soil

For Tulsi bonsai, potting soil is not crucial as lighting conditions for Tulsi. However, the basic houseplant soil with perlite or very small rocks will improve the drainage capacity of the soil.

Watering

The best suggestion for Tulsi bonsai is to follow the watering schedule as prescribed for the variety of Tulsi bonsai you have.

The wet-dry cycles negatively affect the Tulsi bonsai. Therefore, mulching is recommended to prevent water loss from evaporation during hot months.

Pruning/Harvesting

Pruning is crucial to keep the shape of the Tulsi bonsai even and healthy. Moreover, pruning flowering spikes helps to keep Tulsi from seeding.

It is best to harvest leaves from the bottom stems so that a dome-shaped top will be formed.

Tulsi bonsai grow quickly out of hand and lose shape because it grows fast. When this happens, sharply cut it back to the woody stem and let it sprout again.

Also, root pruning will tremendously restrict plant growth. In traditional bonsai development, this used to be done to plants that would normally grow several feet in their natural environment. Besides, it is done for the aesthetic purpose of giving the appearance of an aging plant. However, herbal bonsai will not be necessary if you use deeper pots.

Fertilizers

Feeding is vital for Tulsi bonsai to have an abundant harvest. Using a time-release fertilizer is common among gardeners, while some top-dress their soil with fertilizer.

Fertilize regularly during the early up to the mid-growing season. Reduce the frequency of fertilization as the end of the growing season draws near.

Fertilize the Tulsi bonsai once a month with a mild fertilizer; it is enough. Although Fish emulsion is also great, it does not have the most pleasant odors.

Repotting

Some gardeners prefer to start their Tulsi bonsai plant in the garden to transplant later when the Tulsi reaches the right height or maturity. On the other hand, some growers like to start in pots to prevent transplantation shock. You can also do a combination of grafting and repotting.

While repotting Tulsi bonsai, prune the leaves at the crown first. This will balance the water loss by decreasing water uptake from the roots.

If you do grafting, use extra care where the two plants meet and remain above the soil line. 

This is to prevent the scion (the top plant) from growing new roots and falling back into its original state. Ensure that the spliced stem is supported to prevent it from falling apart.

FAQs

Can I grow Tulsi bonsai indoors?

You can grow Tulsi bonsai indoors, providing the plant with proper sunlight. For example, you can keep the bonsai plant near a window that receives maximum daylight. Moreover, the indoors should be warm, and the soil should be moist. This will allow Tulsi to bloom and spread its fragrance.

When Should I prune Tulsi bonsai?

You don’t need to prune Tulsi when they are still small; wait until the herb is about 6 inches (15 cm.) tall before pruning leaves. The more you prune the Tulsi bonsai plant, the bushier and leafier it becomes.

What is the Lifespan of Tulsi bonsai?

The lifespan of the Tulsi bonsai plant is around 1.5 years. Therefore, summer is the best time to grow this plant because it loves sunlight and needs 6-8 hours for optimal growth.

Which type of Tulsi bonsai is best for home?

The therapeutic properties of both the Rama and Shyama Tulsi plants are best for home. However, according to Vaastu Shastra, the green Tulsi plant (Holy Basil) is the most widely accessible Tulsi plant and is considered favorable.

How much Sunlight does Tulsi bonsai need?

The plant should be placed close to a warm and sunny window. It needs almost six to eight hours of sunlight during the day.

Why Do Tulsi Bonsai Develop a Trunk?

Some Tulsi varieties naturally develop a woody trunk. However, it won’t grow like a tree. This is just a very woody stem. It is part of the aging process and Basil’s way of hardening or preparing for cold temperatures. 

If woody trunks are a cause for concern, there are techniques to prevent them. In bonsai training, a gnarly woody trunk is encouraged since it is one characteristic that makes bonsai appear aged.

How often should I water Tulsi bonsai?

During summer, Tulsi bonsai plants need to be watered daily, while in winter, they need watering every alternate day. They prefer a light misting of water through a shower; overly wet pots are not favored.

Conclusion

The Tulsi plant is widely known for its medicinal properties. It is used as an herb to treat many ailments, from headaches to cancer. You can grow this plant into bonsai simply either from seed or by rooting in water. Moreover, it is simple to maintain the Tulsi bonsai.

You can grow them in indoor conditions as well as outdoor. This plant is also called Vrinda and is considered to be a sacred plant by Hindus. Moreover, many Hindu houses have this plant in special pits called Tulsi Vrindavan.

Hence, the Tulsi plant is an ideal choice for bonsai. Also, this plant is used for both medicinal and cultural purposes. Furthermore, this species has a wide range of varieties, giving you a lot of choices.

We’d like to know which variety of Tulsi you intend to grow. Comment below!

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