Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) was first described in the Philippines in 1845. It is used in many cosmetic and fragrance formulas, as well as a moth repellent. It's one of those scents you either love or hate. If you love it, you can grow this herb as an annual in your garden, whatever your climate zone. If you live in a subtropical or tropical climate, patchouli behaves as an easy-care perennial because it does not thrive where temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Patchouli grows well in pots, so if you want to extend its life, you can keep it outdoors in the warmer months and bring it into your house in the fall.
Start seeds in potting soil indoors in early spring. When plants are about 4 inches tall and your final spring frost has passed, dig some compost into a sunny area in your garden and then plant your patchouli plants 2 feet apart. If you are fortunate in finding a starter plant, plant it in the same way. Water it thoroughly.
Water your patchouli plant three to four times every week when temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if humidity is low and rains do not occur. If your summer temperatures are cooler, water it once or twice a week.
Spread compost or mulch of wood chips or well-composted manure around your plant to keep the soil moist and cool.
Fertilize your patchouli plant(s) with a fertilizer such as fish emulsion once or twice each summer.
Control insects such as aphids and spider mites, if they should occur, with insecticidal soap. Control snails and slugs by spreading a layer of diatomaceous earth around your plant or sprinkling iron phosphate granules in the area.