Andrographis paniculata -- an annual herb called kalmegh, green chireyta and king of bitter in India -- yields an alternative medicine alleged to have anti-inflammatory and anti-immune suppressive qualities. Preparations made from the leaves are used to treat everything from dysentery and fevers to jaundice, bronchitis and skin diseases; the evidence for their effectiveness for most uses is anecdotal, not proven by clinical trial. Andrographis is widely cultivated in India and other parts of Asia and grows best in a hot, humid climate.
Ashvini Gautam, writing for Guatam Global, an Indian company that sells Andrographis seeds, says Andrographis paniculata can be grown that is poor to moderately rich but adding 90 lbs. of nitrogen and 180 lbs. of phosphorous for each 2.5 acres will increase the yield. The amount should be split in half with a 30- to 45-day interval between applications.
The seeds of Andrographis paniculate are covered with a hard coat of wax, making them difficult to germinate. A Chinese agronomist recommends scarifying the seeds with fine sand to remove the layer of wax, then soaking them in warm water for 24 hours.
Agronomists at Kerala Agricultural University, in Kerala, India, recommend soaking the seeds for six hours before sowing them.
Thai Planting Recommendation
The Thai Ministry of Agriculture recommends that seeds be planted in raised soil to promote better drainage. The Ministry suggests beds of soil 3 to 6 feet wide and 6 to 7 3/4 inches high. Five to 10 seeds should be planted in holes that are 6 inches wide and 3 1/4 to 4 3/4 inches deep. The holes should be 7 3/4 to 11 3/4 inches from each other; the rows should be 15 3/4 inches apart. After the seeds are planted, they should be covered with hay or straw to keep the seeds moist and cool and to protect them from the wind.
Indian Planting Recommendation
Ashvini Gautam of Guatam Global recommends tilling and leveling three beds for each 2.5 acres. These beds, prepared with liberal amounts of manure, should be 32 1/5 feet long and 6 1/2 feet wide. Gautam recommends scattering 9 to 10.5 oz. of seeds on each bed and covering with a thin layer of mixed compost and soil. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of the seeds should germinate, and the seeds should emerge in six to seven days.
One-month-old seedlings should be transplanted 17 3/4 to 23 1/2 inches apart with 11 3/4 to 17 3/4 inches between rows. The soil should be watered one day before and immediately after they are transplanted. They will grow better in the shade and reach heights of 12 to 43 inches.