How to Grow Patchouli Flowers

A Fragrant and Shrubby Herb That Grows Well in Warm Regions

Close up of the patchouli flower blooms

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There are many patchouli species native to the tropical regions of Asia, but the one most commonly grown in the United States is Pogostemon cablin. This is an aromatic and tender perennial herb from the mint (Lamiaceae) family.

Cultivated on a commercial level predominantly for its widely used perfumed oil, this can be an interesting, shrubby addition to gardens where temperatures are suitably warm.

You may have come across patchouli leaves in dried potpourri without realizing it. Also used in cooking, they aren't as popular as some of their relatives—like oregano and mint.

The leaves and the oil derived from patchouli flowers are also popular in homeopathic medicine and aromatherapy. The oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, is an effective natural insect repellant, and can be found in perfumes and cosmetics.

Although they aren't showy flowers, their full, shrub-like qualities can be useful for adding contrast and filling up space in beds and borders that benefits from year-round warmth. They typically grow to reach up to three feet in height and can grow even taller if conditions are right. They fit well in informal, herb, and cottage garden settings.

They grow in spreading mounds and the little white flowers that appear in the fall and the green foliage, with purple hues, will add a pleasant fragrance in your yard.

Patchouli Flowers won't be for every garden, though. They're frost-sensitive and don't do well in temperate climates where cold snaps are common. Plus, these plants aren't exceptionally long-lived. Typically, they only last a few years.

They do, however, grow well in containers on window sills, but they need plenty of space because of their spreading qualities and height.

Botanical Name Pogostemon cablin
Common Name Patchouli, pucha pot
Plant Type Perennial, herb
Mature Size Up to 5 ft. tall
Sun Exposure Partial shade
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acid, neutral, alkaline
Bloom Time Fall
Flower Color White, with purple tones
Hardiness Zones 9 - 11, USA
Native Area Asia

Plant Care

Patchouli flowers are easy to grow, but only if the conditions are right. They thrive in warm and humid regions where they can benefit from moist, fertile soils and filtered sunlight.

Light

Patchouli flowers appreciate a partial shade position. While they thrive in warmth, too much intense and direct afternoon sun can be problematic, so filtered light tends to works best.

Soil

Although patchouli flowers can grow in a variety of soil types, they need it to be well-drained.

They thrive in moist and fertile conditions, so adding organic matter to less rich soils is worth considering. They also show a preference for slightly acidic pH levels.

Water

Patchouli flowers enjoy moist conditions, but care is needed when watering. They're susceptible to root rot if left in boggy, waterlogged soils.

If you have slightly neglected your patchouli flowers and they have become somewhat withered, don't panic. They tend to bounce back well after watering.

Container grown plants will need more frequent watering, especially when temperatures are high. You should check the containers every day to make sure they aren't becoming dried out.

Temperature and Humidity

If you live in a region that experiences freezing temperatures, you'll be limited to growing patchouli flowers indoors.

They flourish in warm, humid regions that more closely resemble the climates they experience in their native tropical locations.

Fertilizer

If you're feeding your patchouli flowers, great care is needed as they're sensitive to over-fertilization.

Once every month or two during the growing season with a diluted liquid formula should be sufficient. Indoor potted plants may appreciate slightly more regular feeding.

Pruning

If you want your patchouli flowers to form in densely branching mounds that fill up space in your garden, pinching the plant tips during the growing season is beneficial.

Propagating Patchouli Flowers

Propagating these plants from semi-woody stem cuttings isn't too tricky.

Make sure your cutting is long enough—it should be at least five inches, and it should have plenty of healthy leaves. It can take several weeks for the roots to take, and make sure you space them far enough apart to accommodate their bushy form. It's best to take cuttings in the fall or winter.

How to Grow Patchouli Flowers From Seed

Providing they're kept moist and warm, patchouli flowers germinate readily from seeds. The seeds are fragile, though, and care is needed when handling and sowing to ensure they do not get crushed.

Normally the seeds are sown in winter or early spring. If temperatures are lower, it's best to do this indoors. Seedlings also prefer a shady, rather than a sunny spot.