Friday, November 11, 2011

The Pandan Experiment

I have not been in synch with Mother Nature of late......She blessed me with 3 Torch Ginger ( Bunga Kantan) seedlings and I forgot to bring in the  seedlings one night when the temperature drop. I spent weeks trying to nurse the seedlings back to no avail, losing them one by one.....I took it hard. For years I had been looking for this beautiful, fragrant and delicious flower plant to complete my Malaysian herb garden. This year I found a source for the seeds and rhizome and a wonderful blog friend, Autumn Belle of My Nice Garden who cheered me on as each seedling came up and commensurate with me through the pain of losing my little ones :(

Lesson learnt.

November has been cold, stormy and rainy. I was not taking any more chances. 2 days ago I brought in my precious screwpine pandanus plant, another tropical plant that is sensitive to the cold. The nursery that I bought it from, had to, at one point of time, go back to its customer to buy back some pandanus seedlings, when it lost it mother plant to frost! I have tried over the years to grow this fragrant but never succeeded until this plant. My current pandan plant is 3 years old. Barely growing the first 2 years. I grow it in a pot inside the house during winter and spring. As the weather warms up during summer, I  take it outside, hook it up to the irrigation system and let it enjoy the sunshine and heat. This summer it took off, grown in size and had many baby plants.  I separated some of the baby plants from the mother, potting them up for my new garden in Temecula. 
Mother Pandanus Plant by a bright window indoors

The mother plant is safe inside the house while the baby plants are still outside. Until this year, I did not have `spare' plants to try this. The plan is to see how much cold the pandan plant can take and how to keep it alive outside the house. I know, it is crazy but the nursery I bought it from was in the Northeast US where it was subjected to snow and frost. San Diego coastal climate is milder, no snow and frost is rare. These baby pandan plants are larger and more establish than the torch ginger seedlings so I am optimistic. My theory is the pandan babies will survive, they will slow down and maybe even stop growing as it gets colder, but will survive. They will resume growing once weather warms up in spring. Since the mother plant has additional baby plants still attached to it, I think it is worth the experiment.
Baby Pandanus plants will be left outside
I did the same experiment with my curry leaf plant. For years I would keep it indoors, taking it outside in the summer. One year I planted it in the ground and it took a year or two to establish. Now it is almost as tall as my persimmon tree and has berries for seeds.

Curry Leaf plant next to the Persimmon Tree

Berries of the Curry Leaf Plant


  1. Pandan and curry leaf plants, their fragrances are a sure reminder of home. What we take for granted here are so fragile and precious due to the climate in foreign lands. By the way, I have never seen a pandan plant with flowers. The seeds of the curry leaf plant can be germinated. Some info says that the seeds are poisonous when eaten. I most love the fragrance of curry leaves infused in vadai, curry puffs and spicy crabs.

  2. You are making me so hungry talking about curry puffs and spicy crabs!! So far I have failed to germinate the curry leaf seeds. I think it is timing for example, it it setting seeds now when the weather is becoming colder. More care is needed to maintain the germination at the right temperature and as usual I am swamped with year end work. More effort is needed on my part.

    I am a chicken.. tonight's weather is dropping to the 20s. I took in the pandan babies...could not do it