No visit to the green grocer is ever complete without these useful herbs – mint leaves, kadhi patta, coriander. So why not grow them in your home. They don’t take much space or require special gardening skills. They are easy plants to grow and thrive on sunshine and water at your window sill or in the balcony. And just imagine the authentic bursts of flavours they can provide to your food, not to forget their medicinal properties. Here are 7 useful plants you should grow at home.
Ajwain or oregano: One of the best plants for balcony in India and a very important spice or herb used in Indian kitchens, ajwain is an excellent home remedy for tummy upsets and treatment for cold and nasal/chest congestion.
Boil a few leaves in water and have a little of this concoction to treat stomach disorders such as bloating, indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhoea or colic and chest congestion. The leaves are used in chutney or sometimes eaten as fries – they are coated in thick chick pea batter and fried, and served with some freshly made mint-coriander chutney.
How to take care of ajwain plant: Ajwain grows fast like nettle and can overrun other plants in the hedge. It’s better to grow it in a pot and trim it regularly. You can fill many pots with its cuttings. I had got a small trimming from Kolkata and it thrived in a small pot in my balcony in Mumbai.
Tulsi or Holy Basil: Tulsi is a common house plant and holds a very important position in every Indian household. In India, no puja is complete without offering the deity a few fresh Tulsi leaves. Also, we worship this plant, offer water and light a lamp near it every morning and evening. In fact, the auspicious wedding season starts with the ceremony of Tulsi vivah where Tulsi is married to Shaligram (avatar of Krishna).
This is an excerpt from the mythology that my father had told me – During Sagar Manthan (ocean churning) between the devas (gods) and asuras (demons), Dhanvantari appears from the ocean with a pot of amrit (elixir). She sheds happy tears and the first drop falls in the pot of Amrit and Tulsi is formed.
What do you why Tulsi is given so much importance? Well, Tulsi has antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, germicidal and disinfectant properties, no wonder then it is called the queen of herbs or the elixir of life. Click To Tweet It is used for treating fever and common cold, cough and respiratory problems, sore throat, asthma, stress, etc.
In my household, we boil tulsi leaves in water and drink that concoction daily. It keeps our cold, cough and respiratory problems in check.
There are various species of Tulsi, however, Rama Tulsi which is light green in colour and Shyama Tulsi (Krishna Tulsi) which has leaves with purple hue are easily available and most popular.
How to take care of Tulsi plant: Tulsi plant needs ample sunlight, however don’t place it under very harsh sun. Water it regularly – neither more nor less. It’s seeds which are called manjari can be scattered in pots which then grows into a Tulsi plant.
Kadhi patta or curry leaves: Kadhi patta is widely used in Indian cooking and is also a powerhouse of nutrients. It fights anaemia, controls cholesterol, improves digestion, treats and prevents skin infections, helps in diarrhea, sharpens memory, etc. No doubt, it’s considered a very useful plant to be had in the kitchen garden.
You can chew the leaves raw or boil in water and then drink that water. Or make chutney with the leaves.
How to take care of kadhi patta plant: It needs well drained soil and lots of heat. Just put the plant under direct sunlight, water it regularly and you are golden. Just check for mealy bugs from time to time.
Pudina or mint: Think of mint and you can smell the sense awakening aroma of mint leaves. There are many benefits of mint leaves. Mint contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It’s helpful in treating allergies. The menthol in mint leaves helps in common cold and sore throat, upset stomach or indigestion, pain relief, IBS, insect bites, rash or other skin related reactions. And of course, it’s commonly used as a mouth freshener.
Mint provides great flavours to coriander chutney. It is also chopped and sprinkled on raitas, salads and biryanis.
How to take care of mint plant: Mint grows very easily and is quite prolific. Plant in a pot or it will take over your other herbs or plants. Place the pot in a sunny balcony.
Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is one of the 7 useful plants to grow in your home. We all know it’s a tremendous ingredient for skin ailments like acne, rash and sunburn and a great conditioner for hair. But aloe is also used to treat burns, cuts and insect bites. And, it’s a very effective ingredient for stretch marks.
How to take care of aloe vera plant: It’s a succulent, so doesn’t need too much water or direct sunlight to grow. It reproduces many children around the mother plant, use them to fill more pots.
Lemongrass: Though not a common house plant, lemongrass is extremely easy to grow and a very useful plant too. It has antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
It improves digestions, treats nausea, stomach aches, controls cholesterol, treats insomnia, cures fever, boosts immunity, treats edema and cancers, detoxifies the body, relieves menstrual pain.
Use it in your masala chai or herbal tea. Lemongrass essential oil is used to treat cold, cough, stuffed nose, rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety and depression, acne and eczema and as a mosquito repellent.
How to take care of lemongrass plant: I have this plant for a few years now, and let me tell you it’s an easy plant to grow and take care of. Just water it regularly and give it some sunshine and you will see it growing into fine tall grass and swinging in the gentle breeze.
Dhaniya or coriander/cilantro: Coriander may be small leaves, but they pack quite a punch, both in terms of flavour and medicinal values. Click To Tweet It controls blood pressure, prevents anaemia, helps in digestion, relieves nausea, treats diarrhoea, boosts oral health, regulates cholesterol and diabetes, treats skin disorders and wrinkles.
Use finely chopped coriander leaves on subzis, dals, salsas, hung curd dips and guacamole. Or prepare chutney with it.
How to take care of coriander plant: I have personally not grown it in the window box of my kitchen, but that is something I plan to remedy asap. If you watch Nigella Lawson’s cooking show, you might have seen her plucking a handful of fresh coriander leaves and using it in her recipe. It’s a delight to see her using home grown coriander in her cooking and I am tempted too. All I need is a pot with good soil, sprinkle a few whole coriander seeds in the pot and put it on my sunny window sill.
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Hope you liked knowing about these 7 medicinal plants and their uses. Not only these are 7 useful plants you should grow at home, but they make for ideal gifts too. Gift one of these potted herbs to your friend or relative who not necessarily have a green thumb but could do with these house plants.
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