How to Grow Patchouli Indoors
Patchouli became popular during Napoleon’s reign and then made a comeback in the 1960s when it was used as one of the main fragrances in shampoos and perfumes. It is still a key ingredient used in manufacturing cosmetics and aromatherapy products, chosen because of its distinguishable scent. Patchouli is also used as an antidepressant, an aphrodisiac, and an antiseptic. You can enjoy all the benefits of this herb by growing your own patchouli plants indoors.
Choose a container at least 12 inches in diameter and 18 inches deep that will hold a plant that could grow more than 1 foot high and 3 feet wide. Select a container that has drain holes in the bottom to allow the soil to drain sufficiently and a reservoir at the bottom to catch extra water that seeps through the soil.
Add lightweight mix of potting soil to within 1 inch of the top of the container and pack the potting mix loosely. Add water until it seeps into the reservoir at the bottom of the container.
Plant five seeds, one in the center and the other four seeds 2 inches from the center seed, to form a ring around the center seed, 1/4 inch deep. Cover the seeds lightly with soil. Check the soil frequently to make sure it is moist. Add water as necessary. Wait about three weeks for the seeds to sprout through the soil. Sometimes you may have to wait longer than three weeks for the seed to sprout, so be patient.
Thin out the plants so there is only one plant in the center of the container. Plant the other plants you have started in another container or give them away to family or friends.
Place your patchouli plant in an area where it will not be in direct sunlight for more than eight hours at a time. Keep the room temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place a thin layer of mulch around your patchouli plant to help retain moisture. Check the dampness of the soil by sticking your index finger in the soil up to your first knuckle to see if it feels wet or dry. Water the plant if the potting mix is dry. Wait a day if the soil feels moist and check again before watering. Mist your patchouli plant often, using the fine-mist setting on a spray bottle.
Fertilize your patchouli plant with organic fish emulsion every three months by following the manufacturer's instructions for application. Check the pH level of the soil with a pH test kit to ensure the pH level of the soil stays between 5.3 and 6.5. Adjust the pH level according to manufacturer's instructions.
Purchase patchouli starter plants to plant indoors instead of starting them yourself from seed.
Prepare a soil mixture of your own using equal quantities of vermiculite, peat moss and perlite.
You can find a soil pH testing kit at a garden-supply store.
Pinch off or clip away any long branches that sprout on your patchouli plant to help keep the plant more compact.
Patchouli can give off a very strong, overwhelming odor when kept in a small area.
Julie Eger lives in central Wisconsin and has been writing for eHow since May of 2009. She received a scholarship to attend the Rhinelander School of Arts in 2007 when she submitted a piece entitled "Discovering the Writer Within Me." Her story, "The Drawing of the Shoe," was voted best in class.