The most important and fundamental principle of Tulasi care is regular and perpetua l care.She is a pure devotee,and her requirements are few and simple. She simply requires her own quarters with direct sunlight,where She can grow without disturbances and interruptions.She should be watered at approximately the same time and her leaves should also be collected at a regular time.Mornings be tween7:30 and 9:00 are the best for both purposes.The most essential ingredient is one individual devotee to take the responsibility of tending her.This means that this devotee is conscious of Tulasi through out the daych ecking that her door is shut,that she has sufficient water,that her fan is on,tha ther leaves are being offered regularly and fresh.If this is done regularly and in an orderly fashion she will bloom and flourish.
Housing: It has been found that she pines for sun-Tulasi grown indoors after 8 or 10 months do not fair as well as those given real sunlight.(Krsna says,"I am t he light of the sun and the moon.")
Water: Proper watering has to be adjusted according to weather,climate,size,soil,and the particular nature of the individual Tulasi.She would rather be just a little bit dry than too wet,but don't let her soil become hard with a crust and have her become limp.It is best to water in the morning- around 8 or 9 o'clock-as she uses the water for photosynthes is all day long.Her leaves should be picked at this time.
Get a small tea pot,kettle,or anything clean with a spout,and use to water her as it is easier to control the flow and also easier to maneuver.City water is full of chemicals,but if drawn in a bucket and let sit over night,the chemicals will evaporate out-be sure the bucket is not a corrosive metal (no aluminum vessel should be used) as that would permeate the water.After the bucket has sat over night,aerate it,which is to say-pour it from one bucket to another allowing it to free fall through the air for a distance.This process gets more of the chlorine out and also allows air into the water.
The watering of Srimati Tulasi Devi is not a mechanical process and will come with practice.Feel the soil by pushing your finger in her pot.Is she dried out? Then pour slowly,seeing how much she will absorb in just a few seconds.Never leave a puddle of water still above the soil,this means that she is saturated and cannot accept more.If the sun is out,and it is going to be a hot day,she will need more water,and the converse is,if it is a cloudy day she will not need much.fternoon sun is very intense and taxing,so always check her again around 2-3 p.m.
Over-watering causes diseases in the soil,mold,faded and curled leaves,rots the soil,and causes root diseases.A sign of over watering is when she turns a pale green and apparently perfectly healthy leaves drop.She will go limp,if under watered.
She breathes through the soil and over the process of time the soil tends to become packed.This causes uneven water absorption and poor ventilation.The cure is to break up the soil with a fork or a spoon handle.Dig down about 1/2 of an inch,br eaking up and turning over the soil in small clods.This can be done as needed in a ccordance with the rate it becomes packed.Be cautious of her roots.
Soil combinations: The best soil is homemade,that is to say not some combination purch ased in a store but mixed from local ingredients.A symptom of good soil is dark color, another is rich smell.(I am the original fragrance of the earth).It sh ould hold its shape somewhat if pressed into a clod in the first.Earth worms are another good sign.Obtain some cow manure and allow it to set for two weeks,the reason being that it is very strong when fresh.The nitrogen content is so strong that it would burn the tender root s,so best to let it age.Spread it out and water thoroughly.Every few days turn it over so that the manure underneath the pile is exposed to the sun.Better t o buy a lready compos t ed cow manure than to chance a bad root burnunless one is ex perienced at composring,etc.
Potting: By transplanting her,there is always the danger of exposing her roots to the air. This causes them to dry and wilt.The answer is t o always keep sufficient dirt around the roots.Also there is one root, called the tap root which descends straight down from the stalk and is the longest and most important.If this root is broken there is a good chance the Tulasi will depart,so always be sure to dig down far enough.Never transplant in heat of day.
Diseases: Generally speaking,if she is receiving correct water and sufficient sunlight,in a pot of the correct size and type of dirt suitable,she will flourish.The only necessity is to be sure to protect Her from wandering insects.always keep her in an area that is screened and continually check the underside of her leaves for insects.Never use any sort of insecticide. Tulasi is meant for offering to krsna and how can she be offered if she is covered with some spray? She is also contaminated by the use of systemic sprays as they work their way through her system and ultimately deposit their poison in her leaves.
The real cure is the bathing process.The basic principles are:You dip the Tulasi in water, swish her around carefully and then rinse off with fresh water.The next step is to hose her off with fresh water to finish off those insects who were shaken loose by the bath but not completely removed.By placing a finger over the nozzle you can make a jet-spray- there must be force enough to knock the insects off but not enough to tear or rip her leaves. Be sure to get the underside of the leaves as that is where the insects hide out.
Be sure that it is done in a reasonably warm place so she won't catch cold.During the summer months we spray her with water twice a day,once in the morning around 10:00 and again the afternoon about 2:30.She loves it as manifested by her green effulgence.
Many abnormalities which appear to be symptoms of diseases are caused by changes in her natural conditions,too much water,too much sunlight,not enough fresh air,too much cold;these can all cause discoloring and mutations.so a lways be aware of changes in weather,and try to retain a balance of water,light and heat.
Manjaris and Flowers: These flowering stalks and clusters are the full blown expression of her love for Krsna.They are white on Rama Tulasis and purple on the Krsna Tulasis. Manjaris require much energy to develop.If your Tulasl is very young or sick,or recently received or reported,she should not be allowed to develop manjaris
Offering: The leaves should be washed three times before offering and kept in a bowl of fresh water inside of a refrigerator.
Don't pick her leaves sporadically,but aim for the same time, same amount, every day.It depends on how healthy and bushy the plant is.If there are hundreds of leaves on her,it won't hurt to take a few-if there are only 13 or 14 leaves,don't take any at all unless they are about to drop off.It depends on the size and healthof the plant.One thing Srila Prabhupada once said to me is that dried leaves are just as offerable as fresh green ones and that I should send dried leaves to centers having little or no Tulasi.
Odds and Ends: Make her some skirts to fit around her pot when she is on the altar,and if possible,change the Tulasis on the altar every day as the hot lights and lack of sun will affect her.Use incense sparingly as it tends to make her sick if you burn it continually.One or two sticks a day are refreshing and sufficient as well.Garlands left for more than a day will mold and attract bugs.