Problems can occur for several reasons. These range from too much or too little of some vital growth factors which are: an imbalance of light, water, humidity, temperature, soil, feeding, infiltration of insects and fungus. It helps to have some knowledge on caring for plants. A balanced combination of sensitivity and a desire to nurture puts us in deeper contact with nature and increases sensitivity to the environment where Tulasi is b being grown.


All these things aside, when sickness strikes, what is required is a methodical approach to find the cause and to take effective measures to remove or reduce the problem.


This can be done by working with the section of identification of pests and the check-list of possible problems and their cause. Also by comparing a sample of a sick or diseased Tulasi against the information given.


To the inexperienced Tulasi grower in time, confidence, sensitivity and skill will increase. To the experienced gardener, I hope you enjoy this booklet.


Check List


Nitrogen deficiency?


Symptoms: Stunted growth, pale leaves, occasional red discoloration.

Treatment: Apply feed containing nitrogen. (Maxicrop Complete Garden Feed, or Miracle Grow). Use also as a foliage spray every two weeks until conditions improve.


Trace Element deficiency?



Symptoms: Poor resistance to disease, marginal leaf scorch.



Symptoms: Discoloration (yellowing) begins on lower leaves and moves upwards until all foliage is affected.



Symptoms: Yellowing of leaves, starts on young leaves as well as old leaves and leaf edges inwards and appear scorched.

Treatment: Apply a Multi-Tonic Once a season which contains all the trace elements: Magnesium, Manganese, Iron, Boron and Molybdenum. Spray with a foliar spray containing the above trace elements.




Symptoms: Leaf tips or Manjaris brown, leaf colour pale and yellowing. Are leaves dropping?

Treatment: Check the root ball. Are there signs of sogginess? Root rot comes when water fills all the air spaces and the plant suffocates. Take away the present soil and change for fresh. Do not let pot sit in water.




Symptoms: first sign is a dull leaf colour, followed by the leaves wilting becoming brittle and unyielding. Has the pot been allowed to dry out for too long? Is the atmosphere too arid?

Treatment: see section on Watering.


Green leaves falling off?


Possible cause: left to dry out, then upon watering Tulasi’s roots go in to shock. Too much fertilizer, fumes or drafts?

Treatment: regulate watering and feed. Check position.


Light starvation?


Symptoms: leaves too far apart, stems leggy? Growth thin and weak, new leaves small.

Treatment: place in direct sunlight or window sill. If very sickly, leave lights on longer to give a boost.


Edge of leaf brown or reddish?


Possible cause: too much sun and heat through glass, not enough shade? Too much fertilizer, toxic to roots?

Treatment: wash the soil through with plenty fresh water at room temperature. Check correct measure of feed.


Yellowing of leaves?


Possible cause: not enough light (especially if the stems are spindly). Temperature too high at night? Overfeeding or too little feed? The soil is tired. In need of re-potting?

Treatment: first check the root system to se if she needs re-potting. Then check the temperature for the time of year. Check the last time she received feed against the time of year or season. Summer Feeding – every two weeks. Winter – no feed at all. If in the spring season, apply Trace Elements. Give Iron every two weeks, alternating each week with the feed.


Curling leaves?


Possible cause: humidity too low, temperature too cold.

Treatment: Spray with water every morning. Check temperature.


Is the whole plant sagging?


Possible cause: in need of re-potting? Has Tulasi gone into shock due to cold weather and drafts? Left to go too dry over a long period? Needs support sticks? Too much fertilizer?

Treatment: check the above and adjust as necessary.




Possible cause: check for Die-Back. Is the pot standing in water or does she need water? Has the Tulasi stood in the sun too long or near the heat radiator? Was cold water used? (Remember it should be room temperature). Too much fertilizer?

Treatment: check above and adjust as necessary.


Moss on top of the soil?


This is not a common complaint for Tulasi as her needs are for much dryer soil, but if it does occur scrape it away, check to see if the soil is compacted and apply a light dressing of new soil. Check to see if there is too much humidity. Dry white areas may indicate hard water residue or an accumulation of salts from the fertilizer which the Tulasi can’t use.




Possible cause: too much moisture? Humidity? Yellowing and round brown spots appear on the leaves?

Treatment: Pick off affected leaves and burn. Dust lightly with sulphur, which can be purchased at plant nurseries. Reduce moisture and increase air circulation.




Possible cause: Several fungal diseases can effect the root system, also poor drainage. With root-rot, the tap root turns black and the Tulasi leaves suddenly go limp and wilt (this is known as Die-Back). This wilting starts from the top of the foliage working its way down the branch.

Treatment: Cut back the diseased, dead branch to save the rest of the bush. Re-pot using fresh soil. Take away as much of the diseased root as you can. Keep the pot warm. Prevention is to avoid over watering.


Biological Pest Control

General information


Biological control is the use of predatory and parasitic insects species (natural enemies) against insect pests on crops. It aims to establish natural enemies, on initial low pest infestations so as to prevent the pest developing to levels where economic damage occurs. The pest is maintained at that low level or even eradicated. In this way risk of any over wintering pest population, which may be a source of reinfestation the following year, is minimized. Application techniques should be directed at achieving this aim.


Note: Aphids, Capsid Bug, Leaf hopper and Mealy Bug are all Sap Feeders.




Capsid Bug, Capsidae

Whitish or greenish insects, rather like largish aphids. There are several types. Plants become weakened and leaves are distorted.


Leaf hoppers, Cicadellidae

Pale green or yellow insects 2-3mm long which resemble aphids and capsid bugs. When disturbed they will leap from leaf to leaf or nearby plants. Leaf hoppers suck the juice from the leaf, causing white mottling on the top of the leaves.


Mealy bugs, Pseudococcus

Troublesome greenhouse pests. They are pinkish, grey-white oval shapes usually bundled up in a woolly white jacket which defies water. They hide in joints and against stems, sucking the juice from the leaves and stems, rapidly multiplying 600 eggs at a time. Watch for yellow specks and a general yellowing plus a deforming of the Tulasi. Mealy bugs also produce copious amounts of honeydew which allows sooty mould to grow, together with waxy threads, making the plants unsightly. Cryptoleamus Australian ladybird feed on mealybugs.



There are two main types of greenhouse scale insects. Soft scale and armoured scale. The soft scale is oval, flattened and green brown in colour. The fully grown insects is 3-5mm long and can infest a wide range of plant types. The insets produce large amounts of honeydew leaving the infested plants sticky and invariably covered in a black sooty mould. The biological control of soft scale can be achieved by introducing the small parasitic wasp, Metaphycus, which lays its egg into the scales. Glasshouse use only. As yet no biological solution to armoured scale is available.



Aphids float in on the breeze from outside and head for the choicest young leaf. Watch for leaf curl and check under the foliage. These wingless insects are about an eighth of an inch long, pear-shaped and may come in several colours. Sticky stems and leaves (caused by the aphids sucking action) attract ants, who in turn carry the aphids from plant to plant. Sooty black fungus is also attracted to the sticky parts.


Introduce the small black parasite, Aphidius, which kills young aphids.


Thrips, Thysanoptera

These are chewers an eighth of an inch long which will strip a leaf to a skeleton. Small, narrow insects from pale yellow to black in colour.


Red spider mite (tetranychus urticae)

Red Spider Mite is a small greenish coloured mite with a dark blotch on each side of its body. Each adult female lays up to 120 round translucent eggs over a period of three weeks. At summer greenhouse temperatures, these hatch and develop into adults within 14 days, resulting in rapid population increase. Mite colonies feed on the underside of leaves, sucking out the green cell contents and leaving a speckled appearance. In the autumn, female mites seek hibernation sites in the green house structure and fittings. At this time their colour changes to a deep red. Re-invasion occurs in the spring when warmer weather temperatures and increasing daylight induce their emergence from the winter quarters.


Tarsonemid mites

These mites are minute, whitish-brown. They infest the developing leaves at the shoot tips, distorting the manjari buds which then go brown and stunted. They can be seen only under a microscope.


White Fly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum

A small, moth-like insect, considered one of the most serious and difficult pests to control under glass. Eggs are laid on the underside of young leaves which, after a week, hatch into small, motile scales (crawlers). These soon settle down to develop through several stages, and emerges as adults some 28-30 days after eggs were laid. The adults settle onto new growth and feed for three days before the female commence egg-laying. Both the adults and the scales are potential virus carriers and as a result of feeding, they produce “honeydew” on which sooty mould grows. The “honeydew” is often the first sign indicating the presence of whitefly.]


Wood Louse

Wood louse feed on dead wood and can be found underneath the pot. If they get on top of the soil they will cause damage to seedlings.


Hover Flies

Black and yellow stripped abdomen, they are friendly as they feed on Green-fly and Aphids.


Whitefly Parasite, Encarsia Formosa

Encarsia is used to combat whitefly. It is a small chalcid wasp (1.5mm long), easily recognized by its black thorax and bright yellow abdomen. Each female can lay more than 60 eggs in 10-14 days, inserting them individually into whitefly scales before the scales reach the waxy, pupal stage. Development takes place inside the scale which turns black when the whitefly has been consumed and the parasite pupates. When fully developed the adult “Encarsia” emerges by cutting a hole in the top of the scale. Parasite activity and development is dependent on the temperature being 21 days at 21° Celsius, and will be much slower as the temperature decreases. The adult wasp can also kill the young “crawler” stage of the whitefly by probing it with its ovipositor.


Spider Mite Predator, Phytoseiulus persimilis

A small mite, a little larger than its prey, with a rounded shiny orange body. Each female adult is very active in searching for its prey, and will lay 50 or more eggs over a periond of three weeks. At 22 degrees Celsius these develop into adults in only 7-8 days, twice as fast as its prey at a similar temperature. These predators need humidity, so they work well in the Tualsi greenhouse.


To clear soft brown Scale-Aphids-Bugs and Mites using Horticultural Soap, Savona.


Use Savona liquid soap and distilled water or rain water (for the correct dosage follow label on the bottle). If water goes a milky cloudy colour, empty it out and start again as it will not be very effective. Bathe leaves and stems with cotton wool and Savona solution. Gently wipe off scale, taking care not to damage wood. Spraying with savona, which is a fatty acid, once a week serves as a preventative as scale are unable to breed. Mites are unable to stick their egg sacks under the leaves.


Ready prepared “Pest Pistol” is 100 percent natural and comes in a spray bottle. Use like Savona.


Natural Alternatives


Natural sprays are available today for the organic gardener. These natural chemicals are gathered from certain plants as an alternative to the highly toxic, damaging chemicals sprays.


Savona soap

This is a concentrated soap (containing natural fatty acids) diluted with rain water or distilled water. Used as a preventative to spider mite, white fly and aphids.


Pest Off

Ready made solution, in a spray bottle, works the same as Savona. Very effective.



This is made from pulverized Chrysanthemum flowers and comes in a spray bottle. Effective against aphids, whitefly and leafhoppers. Apply in late afternoon or evening. Not recommended to use with Savona.



This is from the root of the Derris plant and although it sounds unpleasant, it works as a stomach poison on aphids, spider mites and ants.


Rubbing alcohol

Can be found in a chemist. Mixed 3:1 or applied full strength, then washed off with water. It is effective against some soft bodied insects and fungi.


Talcum powder

Ants do not like to cross over talcum powder. To prevent them getting into the pots, just sprinkle on the floor around the outside of the pots. It will need to be done regularly.


Hot Chilli peppers

Mixed with water, will discourage chewing insects.



The juice of crushed lupin, painted around the base of the Tulasi stem, will ward off ants, preventing them from climbing into her branches.


Penny Royal

Also a great ant repellent. Grow next to ant nests and watch them pack their bags.


African Marigold (cracker Jack)

The aroma makes a repellent for white fly. Grow one or two small pots near Tulasi.


Bach Flower, Rescue Remedy

Add to spray bottle or watering for any sign of shock.


Conscious Thought!

Comes in prayer form. Take a tip from the Findhorn Society. All living creatures have consciousness. Talk to the presiding pest, ask it to please locate to another area. It works!