I will begin with the easy, hardy ones, and move to the relatively tougher ones.
General guidelines to grow herbs
- Seeds or sapling? Most of these herbs are best grown from a sapling. Some are easy to grow from seeds such as the basil varieties.
- Sunlight or shade? Most herbs require full sunlight, however, in summer I find the leaves getting burnt when the temperatures soar. so, if you can’t move them to partial shade or have a green net, then ensure the plants are watered twice a day.
- Watering: deep watering after the soil is completely dry. Increase the frequency of watering in the summer months. But do not over water.
- Soil: the plants face stunted growth if the soil is hard and lumpy. A well drained soil, mixture of red soil + cocopeat +manure suits them best.
1. Curry leaf
5. Lemon mint
6. Clove basil
7. Camphor basil
10. Italian basil
12. Betel leaves
15. Holy Basil
As the name indicates, it has a religious significance. There is a belief that a few leaves a day had every morning helps keep cold at bay. It is often used to make kashayam – a concoction of herbs when is down with the flu.
Here is one recipe that uses some of these herbs: I brew a strong concoction made of garlic bulbs (grows along the edges of all pots as it helps in containing pests), basil leaves, tulsi, betel leaves, ajwain, ginger and lemon grass. Add a dash of honey to the concoction and have to two times a day to keep cold at bay.
Even if you don’t have dedicated containers, you can tuck the herbs along the edges of pots or in between plants. All of these herbs can be grown in containers in a balcony or on your windowsill if it receives adequate sunlight. I have a few more growing in the garden (now shown here) such as garlic and green pepper.
Blessed is the person whose body is fit and mind healthy.
What are the medicinal plants most suited to grow for Indian climate?
These are the easiest ones to start with in addition to the ones I have shown above growing in my garden:
- Tulsi (Holy basil): Tulsi is a hardy plant that can grow well in warm and humid conditions.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera is a succulent plant known for its healing properties and is used in a variety of skincare products.
- Brahmi: Brahmi is a low-growing herb that prefers cooler temperatures and can be grown in shaded areas. It is known for its ability to improve cognitive function and reduce stress.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is a shrub that grows well in warm and dry conditions. It is known for its ability to reduce stress, improve brain function, and boost immunity.
- Neem: Neem is a fast-growing tree known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties and is used in many Ayurvedic remedies.
- Turmeric: Turmeric prefers warm and humid conditions and can be grown in both containers and in the ground.
Where can I find seeds or starter plants for medicinal herbs?
I sourced these from various places. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- seedandplant – germination rate is very good
- Government nursery run by Horticulture Department off Yelahanka, Bangalore – saplings from here are very good
- Lalbagh nursery in Bangalore
- Biocarve seeds – germinate rate is ok and depends on the weather conditions
- these days even the local nurseries have lemon grass, stevia, lemon balm, pepper mint, rosemary etc. Lavender is very difficult to grow in Bangalore
What are some tips for caring for medicinal plants at home?
It takes a few tries to get it right. I was lucky the first time around with pepper mint, camphor basil and rosemary but not so much with stevia or lavender.
From my experience these are a few things that may of help to you:
- Choose the right location: Most medicinal plants require plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil. Choose a location in your home that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day and has good air circulation. I have kept most of them in terrace.
- Water properly: Different medicinal plants have different watering requirements, so make sure you understand the specific needs of each plant. In general, most medicinal plants prefer to be watered deeply but infrequently, so allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
- Fertilize appropriately: Many medicinal plants benefit from regular fertilization. However, be careful not to over-fertilize, as this can cause damage to the plant. Use a balanced, organic fertilizer and follow the instructions carefully.
- Prune regularly: Regular pruning helps keep medicinal plants healthy and encourages the growth of new shoots. Use clean, sharp pruning shears and make clean cuts just above a leaf or node. This is especially true for rosemary.
- Control pests and diseases: Keep a close eye on your medicinal plants for signs of pests or diseases, and take action immediately if you notice any issues. Use natural pest control methods whenever possible to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals.
- Harvest properly: Harvest medicinal plants at the right time for maximum potency. Follow proper harvesting techniques to avoid damaging the plant, and store the harvested parts in a cool, dry place.
How do I prepare the soil for growing medicinal plants at home?
To prepare the soil for growing medicinal plants at home, test the soil to determine its pH level and nutrient content. Based on the test results, you may need to amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or manure, and adjust the pH level if necessary. Make sure the soil is well-draining and loose to encourage root growth. Finally, add a layer of mulch to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
How long does it take for medicinal plants to grow at home?
In India, the growth rate of medicinal plants can vary based on the climate and region. Some plants, like aloe vera and turmeric, grow well in hot and humid climates, while others, like ashwagandha and brahmi, prefer cooler temperatures. Many medicinal plants can be grown year-round in India, with some plants like neem and tulsi being particularly well-suited to the Indian climate. However, it is important to research the specific growing conditions and requirements for each plant to ensure successful cultivation.