Friday, 17 March 2017

Tulsi: bee bush, food, medicine and habitat - a great permaculture plant



One of my favourite plants in our polycultural permaculture kitchen garden, a mini food forest, is this perennial basil, holy basil or Tulsi (Ocimum sanctumbecause it has so many beneficial uses for us and the ecological system of our garden: 


  • it is very hardy, drought tolerant and low maintenance.
  • it is almost constantly flowering which attracts pollinators and other beneficial insects
  • its dense form provides protection for small birds that help with pest management - picking of bugs from other plants.
  • it is a beautiful in-garden hedge with aesthetic structure.
  • it provides a year round supply of flavour and nutrients for all kinds of meals - from it's leaves and seeds.
  • the flowers are attractive as table flowers, but they are also edible, the scent they release into the room promotes clear breathing.
  • it provides a year round supply of garden medicine - for coughs and colds, to fight infections, ease congestion and headaches, improve digestion and strengthen the immune system.


A favourite garden tea of mine is: this tulsi, mint, lemon myrtle, lime, turmeric, ginger & a dash of honey. Delicious. If I am feeling a little croaky, this certainly helps a lot.

Tulsi is very easy to take cuttings from, simply trim a section, remove the bottom leaves and plant directly into good soil, or put in a jar of water until roots form. I must have given away hundreds if not thousands of cuttings from my plants over the years. Giving herb cuttings is a great idea - sharing the abundance. Most herbs need to have a regular good trim anyway.

(Image by Evan Raymond, taken in our garden yesterday)



11 comments:

  1. Morag, thank you for your posts. I have implemented your no-dig technique and now question why I never thought about it before. Before we moved to our village I had an allotment garden and one of the old gents near me used to tell me not to dig my manure in but to let the rain and worms take the goodness down!

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  2. Morag we are planting this Holy Basil around Beelarong Community Farm with great success. The bees love it, and we need more bees. Evan has taken a beautiful photograph.

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  3. Beautiful photo! My little native bees love the flowers of basil though I haven't grown this kind before. I will hunt down some cuttings and plant it for them. Meg:)

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  4. Thx to your cuttings I have several holy basils around my garden & they're always humming with bees. Even when nothing else is in flower the holy basil just keeps flowering & giving out its gorgeous smell.

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    1. Fabulous! It's just such a wonderful plant in so many ways, and I am always amazed at how many bees are on it every day.

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  5. Found Tulsi-ginger tea at the store. Got sacred basil seeds started are you saying it will survived cold winters? Otherwise will just grow it indoors.

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    1. I think you should take it inside in a cold winter. It's a perennial in warmer climates, but an annual in cold and temperate climates.

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  6. 🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝Bee Friendly says thank you.

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  7. Congratulate Evan on his wonderful photo. Flying insects are difficult subjects. I've been making a list of any plants I read about to try growing in the Southern Tablelands/Central West area of NSW. I've created micro-climate gardens in other areas I've lived, with success, and I'm going to try a macadamia here next Spring. These would be a lovely companion plant for it.

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  8. great photo, and also one of my favorite plants! Sacred basil tea is divine.

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