Growing Patchouli in the UK
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Ian Evans
Posted on: January 9, 2002

I have been growing your seeds since last spring approx April 2001. They germinated quickly resembling watercress and there they sat right round until September. I could not understand why they didnt do anything until the weather got cold. Strangely now that it is minus 7 celsius outside and the only light they get is low winter sun on my inside window ledge they are about 6 inches (15 centimeters) tall and sprouting new leaves on top on a daily basis. Not only that they smell beautiful. The young leaves smell but the large ones about 2 to 3 inches(5 to 7.5 cm) wide do not smell. Considering I am 20 miles from London and the light and temperature are bad I am very pleased. I thought the temperature and humidity in the summer would have been best for growth, around 30 celsius here but how wrong I was! My plants seem to like the cooler weather. I must be doing something right. Any tips on healthy growth and nurturing please?

Patchouli likes rich, moist, well-drained soil with high humidity. It can take full sun, but does much better in half shade. The light conditions in the fall may have been far more to its liking than those in the summer. Also many plants are programmed to grow when conditions in their native land are favourable for growth. This time may be the fall and perhaps again in the spring. These times are the rainy seasons in many tropical climates and plants would be programmed to grow only then.

Older leaves would not be obviously fragrant, because their cuticles have become much thicker and the scent cannot get past the cuticle anymore. Since the scent is supposed to repel insects, this protection is needed more by tender young leaves, than tough old ones. The most fragrant part of older plants are the seed heads. These can be dried and used for scenting purposes.

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