How to Cultivate Patchouli

Overview

Patchouli is the common name of the tropical perennial herb Pogostemon cablin. It is part of the mint family that gives off an exotic Far Eastern fragrance. Patchouli originates from India, Malaysia and the East Indies. This small, shrub-like herb grows into rounded bushes that are 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall. It has square stems with leaves that can grow up to 4 inches long covered with small hairs. When the leaves are crushed, patchouli releases an intense fragrance. The pale lavender or white blossoms flower on branch tip during the winter. Patchouli can be successfully cultivated indoor throughout the United States.

Step 1

Wash a large container with hot soapy water and rinse with one part bleach mixed with nine parts water. This will get rid of any pests hiding in the container.

Step 2

Add 1 pint of compost to every 1 gallon of potting soil needed. Mix together well, so you cannot tell the compost from the potting soil.

Step 3

Fill the bottom of the container with soil. Place the patchouli in the center of the plant pot. Fill the rest of the container with soil. Keep the soil line 2 inches below the rim of the container. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.

Step 4

Place the planted patchouli in a warm area that receives 6 hours of bright light a day. The best exposure is a south facing window.

Step 5

Water thoroughly to keep the soil moist. Fill the container with water and let the water run through the drain hole on the bottom of the plant pot.

Step 6

Mix water-soluble fertilizer to 1/4 strength and fertilize the patchouli plant every week during the summer. Patchouli needs to be feed well because it is heavily harvested throughout the growing season.

Step 7

Pinch out the tips of the branches to encourage the patchouli to grow bushier.

Step 8

Keep the patchouli plant warm and barely moist after the leaves have dropped and the plant has gone dormant for the winter.

Step 9

Cut the tops back with a sharp knife to only 1 inch stubs and water the plant well in March or April to start a new growth cycle.

Tips and Warnings

  • Patchouli plants are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures. Bring them inside when the temperature goes below 65 degrees F, if they are planted outside.

Things You'll Need

  • Large container
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Bleach
  • Compost
  • Potting soil
  • Patchouli plant
  • Fertilizer
  • Sharp knife

References

  • A Weaver's Garden: Growing Plants for Natural Dyes and Fibers; Rita Buchanan; 1999
  • The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Herbs in Southern Gardens
Keywords: Pogostemon cablin, growing patchouli, cultivating patchouli

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.