Growing Pandan Locally in Singapore
Pandan plants (a.k.a. Pandanus amaryllifolius, chinese name : 班兰) which are native to the South East Asia region are a household goddess for its countless uses around the home. From culinary and baking purposes to warding off house pests, the fragrant scent of pandan leaves can help to tackle all of these needs.
It is the pleasantly light fragrance scented in the leaves of pandan that allows it to be complementary to a vast variety of flavour profiles. Described as providing a floral-nutty-vanilla-like fragrance, South-East Asian cuisines frequently use the leaves of pandan to impart this unique flavour to both sweet and savoury foods. It is particularly used in the making of Malay and Indonesian desserts (known as kuihs); and to remove the gamey smells of meats in a stew or when used to wrap pieces of marinated meats for roasting.
Thai Style Pandan Chicken
Fried chicken wrapped with pandan leaves that gives that the distinct vanilla like aroma
A method familiar to many local bakers is to also blend pandan leaves with water (or any other liquid medium) to extract the flavour of pandan to make pandan extract or juice. This bright green “gold”is then mixed into cake batters, icings, syrups to make delectable treats!
How to grow from seed?
Although possible to be grown from seeds, a pandan plant may take anything from 10 to 12 months to germinate, so it’s important to have a fair bit of patience. Now if you want to learn to be a more patient person, perhaps growing a pandan plant from seed might help!
How to grow from cuttings?
Pandan plants produce suckers from its base. Each of these suckers are capable of growing into a new plant. Simply look out for these suckers or “tiny baby pandan plant” emerging from the side of a bigger main pandan plant. Cut a sucker from the main plant with a clean knife and place it in a container filled with water to allow roots for this cutting to grow. Change water daily to prevent base/root rot. If there are yellowed or dried leaves on the outer ring of the pandan sucker, gently remove the ill leaves exposing the good parts of the plant to the water. The suckers root in four to six weeks. After soaking in water for 2 days or so, you may pot them into the ground or a pot of soil.
Water plenty and keep in the shade at the beginning till the plant stabilizes. Afterwhich, you may expose the pandan plant to full sun.
Soil types for optimal growth:
Pandan plants thrive optimally in well drained soil. Being a garden toughie, it can adapt well to a range of soil types which includes peat, quartz, and coral sand.
6.0 – 10.0
Pandan plants young or mature love the sun, so much that if a seed were to germinate in a shady place it could use its stilt roots to crawl its way to a sunny position.
For mature plants, you would be looking at providing at the very least 5 hours of sunlight to the plant.
Water the plant thoroughly after planting the cutting so the soil settles in the planting hole and the soil is evenly moist throughout the root zone.
Once the plant stabilizes, it can tolerate some drought stress (a little dry soil is okay).
When first planted, position it in an area that is bright but receives indirect sunlight till the plant stabilises. Do also note that the plant should not be grown in a windy place as the constant wind will dry it out quickly.