I’ve been looking for the patchouli plant and seeds for about two years or so, when my neighbor’s young son contracted an adult’s version of leukemia, and his mom asked me (knowing that I grew plants) if I was able to get it for them. I looked everywhere, including online, but nurseries abroad either wouldn’t ship out of their country, or required us to purchase a phytos cert, which would cost terribly much. The boy’s parents have spent tens of thousands of dollars on his chemo so far, and I felt bad for them; yet, I had little cash to offer in buying a plant with phytos and pay for both that and the freight.

And so…the idea went forgotten, somewhat, and my neighbors turned to drinking the infusions made by leaves of the rose cactus plants.

Out of nowhere, my friend suddenly mentioned that he had the plant, and extremely kindly provided me with cuttings. The cuttings root terribly easily – I just stripped most of the adult leaves off, plonked the cuttings into either well-draining compost with volcanic sand, or perlite, and within less than a week, the sad-looking drooped leaves came back looking perky and happy.

Websites and people claim that the patchouli plant smells earthy. Maybe my nose has some problems, or else my definition of earthy is way different from everyone else’s, because the plant just smells like fresh, uncooked vegetables to me, kinda like the daun dewa when I was first growing it.

No matter how it smells like, though, the patchouli is a very useful plant, like many other herbs are. According to the entry on Wikipedia, “In several Asian countries, such as Japan and Malaysia, patchouli is used as an antidote for venomous snakebites. The plant and oil have many claimed health benefits in herbal folk-lore and the scent is used to induce relaxation. Chinese medicine uses the herb to treat headaches, colds, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Patchouli oil can be purchased from mainstream Western pharmacies and alternative therapy sources as an aromatherapy oil.”

But uh…I haven’t yet smelled the essential oil, so I can’t say how similar it is to the fresh scent of its crushed leaf. Whatever the case, it’s a plant I’m happy to have in my garden.

Care: Not too fussy about the soil mix, but keep it on the moist side
Fertilizing: Does well with frequent weak fertilization
Sunlight: Full sun to bright shade
Propagation: Easily by cuttings

Addendum: I passed some cuttings to my neighbor to plant, and the plants seem to be quite happily acclimatizing. I hope it helps them keep their son’s body healthy.