Pandan, otherwise known as screwpine leaves, is one of the must-haves in your backyard garden. As I’ve outlined in this post, pandan has many uses, to wit: cockroach repellant, natural car freshener, potpourri, food flavoring agent, gout remedy and of course, rice add-on.
I keep several pots of pandan in my garden because it’s one crop that I use on a daily basis — because well, us Filipinos eat rice thrice a day! If you’re new around here, you may want to check out my blog post on how I use pandan as a rice add-on. It’s amazing how fragrant your rice becomes because of this simple addition.
Here are my tips on how to grow pandan or screwpine leaves:
Start with a pot of already-growing pandan plant.
I bought mine from the farmer’s market for just 20 pesos. I transferred it to a bigger pot filled with rich, dark soil. I have read that pandan grows so fast that if you plant it on the ground, it will overrun your garden in no time. Keeping it in a container does a good job of really limiting its growth to a manageable level.
You will find pandan to be quite a lovely plant to keep. It has this perfect radial symmetry with its spray of thick, robust leaves. You can certainly use it as an ornamental plant. However, it would be such a waste not to use it as a food flavoring agent especially as it has many health benefits.
Grow pandan in two ways.
You can multiply your pandan plant in two ways. Firstly, you can look for those smaller plants shooting out from the base of the main plant and either transplant them into separate pots or just let them grow alongside their mother plant. Secondly, you can cut off the mother plant and transplant it.
Here is a pandan plant from which I regularly break off a couple of leaves every morning. You can see that it has grown tall and spindly and has grown many sturdy roots. It is high time to cut it off, taking care to include as many prop roots as possible so it can live on its own right away. You can see that there are several plantlets at the base and so cutting off the mother plant would allow these baby plants to live on their own, so to speak.
Use a sharp knife to make a quick, clean cut. A sharp, clean diagonal cut is the ideal way of cutting it. You may also trim off extra leaves so the transplant can have better chances of surviving. Plant the cut into a rich soil and water it right away. Shield it from the sun for a couple of days or weeks and water it everyday. Pandan is a sun-loving plant and so you the moment you see the new plant thriving well, transfer it to a sunny spot where it can get almost half a day’s worth of direct sunlight.