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Hardiness: USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F) USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F) USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F) USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Sun Exposure: Full Sun Sun to Partial Shade Light Shade
Danger: Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Bloom Color: White/Near White
Bloom Time: Mid Fall Late Fall/Early Winter
Foliage: Grown for foliage Aromatic
Other details: Flowers are fragrant This plant is suitable for growing indoors Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Soil pH requirements: 5.6 to 6.0 (acidic) 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets) From softwood cuttings
Seed Collecting: Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
On Mar 2, 2013, Anna_Falactique from Albany, OR wrote:
I am a passionate gardener and rarely have I met a plant I didn't like...well maybe not ragweed...poison ivy...ahem. Anyway. My purpose in commenting is cautionary...apparently, patchouli is a plant which earned its association with death the old-fashioned way---by killing people. And not very nicely, either...patchouli is so highly allergenic to a significant percentage of people that ingesting, physically contacting or breathing the scent molecules into their lungs causes a sudden tightening of the airways that can be so severe and last so long that the person is literally strangled to death from the inside out.
It's called an anaphalactic allergic reaction and even in this day of modern medical miracles, people can and do die this way with appalling frequency --- some just by breathing the scent of patchouli.
I am one of these people for whom the merest whiff of patchouli makes the airways clamp tightly and stubbornly shut. I have learned caution in public places which are frequently laded with wafting patchouli, as it is used in many commercially-marketed popular fragrances to make the scent last longer. I avoid crowds...meaning, I avoid church, sporting events, concerts, meetings, parties, crowded shops, hugging people, you get the picture. The most beautiful gift I ever received was when every single person who came to celebrate my wedding arrived without fragrance on. I had to cancel my pre-arranged honeymoon hospital stay and find a hotel instead! (ok kidding...but we did choose our hotel to keep within my provider network just in case...not kidding)
Well this is fun and all but why am I here...getting to that. I have a hope that when people are aware that peeps like me are not as rare as we would like to be, the more we spread the word that this is a plant that can be suddenly deadly, those who love it for its better qualities can perhaps be part of the solution.
1 - LABEL the buggers in your garden and maybe put a couple of those cute skull-with-a-pink-bow stickers on it. Oh heck put half a dozen. You'll thank me for this when you don't come home from vacation to find you were robbed of everything you own because your house sitter has been laying dead amongst the perenials for a week.
2 - join the growing throngs of people demanding studies to find solutions. Call your state university's botany department and ask them if they are developing allergen-free varieties of patchouli and if they aren't, make strangled noises and threaten to alert the local media to this appalling misuse of taxpayer funding. If they are, go to your local nurseries and suppliers and ask them to be first in line when the non-dangerous versions become available.
3 - try to remember that the human olfactory process is one of diminishing returns...we often need more and more of a fragrance to smell it, because our nose is so used to it that it tunes it out...while my airways are so sensitized to the stuff, that one person wearing one drop of patchouli oil in an elevator with me may have signed my death warrant if the thing breaks down. Wear half a drop instead...every second counts. Buy your kids gardening tools instead of fragrance for those special days...ya they will cry but come the zombie apocalypse, those rakes and hoes are gonna be just the ticket for fending off the undead at the end of each row. On the other hand...if your offspring needs a science project, the kids can push the zombies into the perennials and let them find the original deadly specimens. Does chemical strangulation work on zombies? The Defense Department may never need to buy bullets again. Good thing too, because Homeland Security has cornered the market on them.
So you see...a little awareness goes a very long way, just like that everlasting patchouli oil. ~canned laughter~ Just by reading this tedious comment you are well on the way to avoiding lawsuits from mothers of dead housesitters and the headache of pecuniary insurance adjustors; you may have frightened an entire university department, or at least the department secretary, into doing your bidding ~mwah haha ha haaaaaa~ and given your hometown newspaper something to scream about besides the economic sky still falling, and single-handedly stimulated your local economy through the ordering pandemonium of area nurseries all vying to obtain non-allergenic stock; you will be saving money by wearing less fragrance, encouraging your children to develop a love of gardening or at least of smacking beastly people with sticks, not to mention saving the free world from threat of invasion if not all human life as we know it.
Alright I'll admit, I quite selfishly hope that one of those lives will be mine. It's a little past its prime but I am fond of it and at any rate, it's the only one I've got. ~insert winsome smile and fluttering blue eyes~ Thank you for not choking me!
Oh...also...if you held your breath while reading this, your lungs would be on fire at this point. Even better...hold your breath while reading backwards! I hope you see my point buried in all this...the plant you love can kill me personally, never mind all those other poor buggers. Be careful, be aware, and be an activist in your own small corner of influence. Perhaps one of you will be the ingenious plant breeder that cashes in on a scentless patchouli oil for the fragrance industry...a patchouli varietal that lacks the allergenic compounds...or a daily allergy pill that protects against such deadly reactions for the vulnerable and while you're at it, against poison oak and poison ivy and poison sumac and stinging nettles and fire ants (yes, fire ants. One is all it takes to convince anyone that FAPPP --- Fire Ant Personal Protection Pills --- will make someone a billionaire someday).
Alright you have all heard quite enough from me...go back to your sinful propagating...thank you for listening...you've all been lovely...try the veal...and try not to kill me next time I'm choking in an elevator with you. If you're still holding your breath...you know how much I will appreciate it.
On Jan 2, 2010, savagefrog from sydney Australia wrote:
I bought 2 small patchouli plants at a nursery 6 weeks ago. One I planted in the garden in compact clay soil, with afternoon sun. The other I put in a 12inch plastic pot with wetting gel and rich potting mix, with morning sun. The plant in the pot is growing rapidly it is about 4 times the size of the other one. The plant in the garden has grown very slowly but is just beginning to spread. Both have yellow patches on their leaves. Does anyone know what might be causing this?
On Jul 7, 2009, frankyrydell from Campton, NH wrote:
I have had my mother patchouli plant for about 2 years. I have propagated the mother 10+ times. Propagated her children 3+ times each. The mother was looking ill for a while but came back to full beauty shortly after giving her a break. I kept about 12 of the clones, gave the rest away. They were all thriving and growing large and strong. For some reason, within the past month all of mine have been dying off for no reason I can think of. 3 in the last week, leaves just start dropping till there is nothing left but stems which are shriveling. Just wanted to know if anyone had any idea of why this just started happening... Guess my plan at the moment is to take as many clippings as I can before they are all gone. But then my question is, are the plants too weak and produce unhealthy offspring? I will do what I got to do, but if anyone has any good advice it would be much appreciated... Thanks!
On Sep 27, 2008, Nurafey from Polk City, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
I'm in the patchouli fanclub, so I hunted down and bought one. (Online, can't find any local)
As I live in Central Alaska, it's an indoor plant. Spent the summer in a partial sun/shade window did... okayish.
Now that there isn't sun 20 hours a day, it's... looking sad. Leaves grow, drop off, more grow, drop off. :(
I neither underwater nor drowned it. I have daylight spectrum lights inside as well as it sitting on the windowsill.
Not really sure what I can do to make it happy. :/
This particular plant has never had very much smell at all. If I take a good-sized leaf and rub it in my hand, I can very very faintly get a hint of the well known fragrance.
Not sure if I should get more plants... maybe this one is just grumpy or if I should give up. It looks like it *could* be a beautiful plant... And all my other houseplants are gorgeous... I want this one to be as well!
On Jul 7, 2008, Katja144 from Royal Oak, MI wrote:
I had one of these back in college....it was really happy and deep, bright green in a pot in my dorm room with a grow light. Until I killed it with root rot. :(
I've been searching for another for several years now and finally found one. Unfortunately this one isn't doing so well either. I took it to the "plant doctor" at my local English Gardens and he said it looked like it was being overwatered again and "don't even think about watering it" any time soon. That was about two weeks ago and it's only had a small taste of water since and has been under a grow light for the past couple of days and it's looking worse, if anything! I don't know if it's got too much water or not enough at this point. I guess I just am not good at keeping patchouli alive (my other plants are fat, sassy, green, and happy!). If this one dies and I can get another from the same place, I'll try once more, but I think I'll mix some sand in with my potting soil; I asked the plant doctor if the soil was too heavy for it and he said no but I'm not so sure about that.
I love patchouli to death, and am often wearing the essential oil in my hair (much to the chagrin of some people, I found out, after a couple ladies in the church choir with me sort of ganged up on me about my "perfume"--having not said anything for at least 6 months since I joined! Unfortunately, as someone else said, the patchouli scent does indeed get into everything and it does NOT leave--my mom has commented about how good I smell even if I've washed my hair a few times since last putting the EO in!). I am surprised by how many times I'll walk past somebody and they'll say, "oh, PATCHOULI!" Who knew that many people would recognize it?
On Jul 14, 2006, TxTurqoize from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:
I've had my patchouli plant for about a year and a half...and it seems to be flourishing...even blooming for me last year. When the summer really heats up here in Central Texas, alot of the leaves start to look wilty and yellow, even tho I water it about every 2 days....so THAT part is a bit frustrating. But I also wear patchouli oil, have for 25 years...and this plant is just wonderful to have on the porch. :)
I like this plant for the aromatic properties -- just break off some fresh leaves and put in a potpourri simmer pot to give the house a lovely smell. Won't take even mild freezes well. In the winter, I put it on my south porch and bring it indoors at night for the small handful of freezes we get here.
On Jun 4, 2006, turtlelvr2 from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:
I live in Jacksonville, Fl and have had good fortune with my patchouli plant. Last year it gave me quite a scare, not knowing too much about it, I put it in the greenhouse with the rest of my plants and it turned yellow and spindley and I thought I had lost it. But when I took the plants out after the cold, I just put that one aside and thought I'd deal with it later. Well, in about 3 weeks, the leaves had fallen off and new ones were coming in. Now it's the most gorgeous plant! I couldn't believe it. It's bushed out, lush green -huge- leaves and of course the fragrance is just short of heaven. I'm looking to propogate it and would love any suggestions.
On Apr 23, 2006, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:
I kep one patchouli plant for a season or two and in my desire to put everything into the ground that I could and give up the bother of having potted plants, I put it in my herb garden. It didn't survive our north Florida winter which has a few nights of freezing temperatures each year.
I got another patchouli in a 4" pot during a north Florida DGer's nursery tour last summer. This plant is now about 24 inches tall and about to flower. I overwintered in my greenhouse.
The plant is easy to propagate by stem cuttings -- easy enough that bothering with collecting and growing the seed (if any) would never occur to me.
A friend of mine grows her own herbs for homemade soaps and lotions. She has described to me the process for distilling the essential oils from herbs using something like a double boiler with a lid that will allow the oils, when they steam out of the leaves, to drip back down into a collection pot. I've not tried distilling patchouli oil as I seldom have enough time to keep up with all the projects that I have going on at any one time. I'm sure the instructions could be found on-line for anyone that wants to distill their own patchouli oil.
As mentioned above, just rubbing your hands across the green growing leaves can produce a nice, light whiff of the patchouli scent. A pleasant bit of "aromatherapy" when outside on a hot, humid sub-tropical summer day.
I used patchouli oil as a body fragrance in the 1970's (as did a lot of us Latter Day Hippies - LOL). The essential oil is very pervasive. Using only a few drops per day as a cologne, it wasn't long before the sheets smelled like patchouli, the car smelled like patchouli, the furniture smelled like patchouli, even the dog smelled like patchouli!! A little bit goes a long way.
On Apr 22, 2006, ElysianFields from Arcadia, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:
I have been searching for a Patchouli plant for a few months; against my better judgement I even consider buying one online. I finally found a nursery about an hour from me that had one and picked it up. I have been wearing patchouli oil as a perfume for years; I can't believe how lovely this plant smells! I harvested some of the dried seeds that were on the plant and have just this evening set them and put them in my greenhouse. I am anxious to see how they do. I just joined this forum after reading comments for a few months on several varieties of plants and an looking forward to seeing more posts on this particular one.
On Apr 10, 2006, ladygold from Houston, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
I grew this last year in an Earth Box. It was very happy but I didn't get it out and in the house fast enough when we had a cold snap. This year I'm getting a bigger plant which I'll leave in its pot in the ground so I can bring it in more easily. Seems like the Earth Box kept it properly watered and I avoided many of the problems mentioned about watering.
BTW - I didn't hear about Dave's issues with the Earth Box folks until I had already bought two. I've joined the boycott now.
On Jul 31, 2005, iluvperennials from Mount Joy, PA wrote:
Mount, Pennsylvania...grew one outside. It is now seeding and doing quite nicely...18" around. It's planted on the south side of the house and shaded by some tall trees; therefore, it gets direct sunlight from about 1 - 4 p.m. but shaded most of the morning. I do nothing special with watering unless it hasn't rained for awhile...then I water once or twice a week for about 1 minute. I hope to propagate the root into 4 plants and bring it inside for the winter. As far as I know, this plant is indeed a perennial.
As far as the one negative comment goes, patchouli is a rich earthy fragrance from my day in the 60's and 70's. I still wear the oil and love this aroma. I'm happy to share any growing tidbits with anyone...just write.
On Jul 3, 2005, jadewolf from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
I was given a rooted cutting of patchouli by a friend. At the time, it was just one tall stalk with a pair of leaves at the top (which promptly fell off two days later). Kept watering it and gave it a little fertilizer, but nothing happened still. Six months later, when the rains started up steadily, it sprang back to life and put out new branches and leaves everywhere. Now it's one of my most prolific plants and seems to survive all sorts of crazy near-disasters! It's very attractive and always impresses people with its fragrance... And now the garden smells like dirty hippies! ;)
On Jul 2, 2005, chicochi3 from Fayetteville, AR (Zone 6b) wrote:
This plant was sold to me as a perennial which I later found out it is not in this area. It doesn't matter. Nothing I do with it makes it happy. Leaves keep turning brown and falling off. Indoors, outdoors, this plant is not happy. I'll keep watering it until it either dies off completely or comes back. Other than that, I can't be bothered with it.
On Jun 5, 2005, mike3k from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 11) wrote:
I've had one growing in my garden for several years now. It spread like crazy and I've had to cut it back a few times. It got torn up by hurricane Wilma last year but it came back in full force. I've tried to root the pieces I cut off when I trim it, but I've never been able to get any to root. It's flowering right now, so I'll try to collect the seeds.
On Jun 3, 2005, erthmother from Midland City, AL wrote:
This is one of my favorite plants due to it's earthy scent. Just rub your hands across the leaves.. umm.
I grow it in pots that I place under some pecan tree shade in the summer and inside during the winter months.
I have rooted cuttings in water and soil.. both with same amount of ease. Do Keep moist.. or the plant will not survive.
Place next to rosemary for a super delight to your senses.
On Mar 27, 2005, cetude from Winter Haven, FL wrote:
I live in florida, and I had mine for several years now. I have a really huge pot and it looks like a huge shrub about 3 to 4 feet high. I'm sure if I put it in a larger pot it will grow taller.
You MUST water this plant almost daily, but not soggy. It's a heavy drinker. It will quickly die if you neglect watering it.
I completely enjoy this plant. The scent is fabulous. You can make sachets from dried leaves; the dried leaves actually smell better than fresh ones!
I keep mine outdoors. During winter I store it in the garage and let it have sun when it's not freezing outside. Mine tolerates cold weather just fine--but *NEVER* freezing.
I'm going to try propagation via cut stems, although I did see some seeds sprout before. It very heavily seeds when winter approaches-at least mine does. Some of the leaves tend to fall off when it issues forth flowers and seeds.
You do have to water this plant, like I said, virtually daily. If you are not willing to do this, then don't get this plant. Only takes a few seconds and 100% worth it
I got a patchouli plant today, it is really fragrant and is nice. Propogation is by cutting off a part, and soaking it in water till it has roots, or dip it in rooting hormone. The plant I got has six in one pot and need to be thinned out.
I came to this site via a search engine to find information specifically on patchouli. I recently purchased a plant at Home Depot being sold as a perenial herb. I love the fragrance....it reminds me of my days in Ann Arbor. Mine is planted in a southern facing outdoor herb garden and after one week is doing very well. I have learned here it will not take the Michigan winters, so I will bring it indoors.
I grew this plant indoors in North Carolina. Elizabeth City. It bloomed beautifully and I only watered it thoroughly once a weak. Kept near a very sunlit window. It lived for 2 years before i moved south to Puerto Rico and planted it outdoors.
On Sep 18, 2003, MotherNatureCA from Van Nuys, CA wrote:
I am in Southern California where temperatures stay over 100 degrees in July and August. I planted four 4inch pots of Patchouli in different parts of my garden in early summer. Two get full sun most of the day, and two get partial sun morning only. All of them are thriving, they get watered more in hot weather, but I use a lot of mulch to smother weeds, and promote tilth. I love the smell of this plant and can hardly wait to see how it blooms. Oh... I think it likes acid soil.
These have grown very well for me so far this year in the Washington, DC (U.S.) area. I have propagated a few from cuttings and they have grown quite quickly and stoutly.
I am trying to figure out what soil pH this plant would prefer. i may just experiment and find a good one. Since several of my plants need a more acidic soil that will probably be the first test. Hasn't bloomed yet, but waiting for that to happen too.
On Sep 6, 2003, squashman from Elizabethtown, PA wrote:
I found a small plant while looking at herbs at a local nursery (it may have been Wal-mart believe it or not).I bought it and planted it in an olive oil can...punched holes in the bottom..and it's been on my porch all summer...southern exposure. I brought it in tonight because I want to keep the plant and I'm hoping it will continue to grow indoors this winter. I found this site while looking for information on patchouli.I've learned alot about it already...now I know why some of the leaves are turning yellow, but I'm encouraged that I can keep this plant going and maybe can help it to flower. p.s...I live in Elizabethtown, Pa.
On Jul 31, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:
I too live in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, and bought my one plant at a gardening fair from an herb plant specialist, and he said to grow it in a pot here. The plant has gotten two feet taller in one summer and now needs repotting. It grew very bushy without pinching or any real care other than frequent watering and occasional fertilizing. I noticed it really doesn't like to get dry--the lower leaves will turn brown.
I will keep it in a greenhouse this winter, and will try to take tip cuttings next summer, or grow from seeds, if I ever get any. It's really a very attractive plant, and of course has an ancient history as a perfume plant, which makes it very interesting to me.
I am in North Florida and have one plant in a pot growing in filtered sun. It is doing very well and needs to be repotted to a larger pot. The one I had last year flowered but died because it was in direct sunlight. It smells great and is very bushy. I thought about planting it in the ground but see here that it would not survive the winter.
On Jun 25, 2003, dremingrl from Seminole, FL wrote:
This is a wonderful plant. I grew mine in Florida in a large pot, from a baby plant and I am happy to hear that it can be grown from the seeds. It seems to always have the buds on it and every now and then it flowers. It has absolutely gorgeous leaves with beautiful purple undersides. This plant has a deep earthy scent that I find heavenly. As for the previous author, You have to grow one to see why they are so enchanting.
On Jun 13, 2003, ImpulseGuy from Albuquerque, NM wrote:
I have successfully grown patchouli from seed every year in New Mexico. It is a joy to tend though I have yet to have any plants flower. Each year I try slightly new conditions in an attempt to promote flowering. I keep the plants sheltered from the intense direct sun here, but they thrive on the ample light and regular but not excessive waterings. They do not seem to be susceptible to any bugs or diseases that I have noted. I germinate them in a 6 inch pot broadcast with seed slightly covered with damp soil. I cover the pot with plastic wrap with holes and keep it under grow light for slight warmth. Eventually a practically microscopic carpet of green will appear. One marvel is how the miniscule seedlings and their imperceptible growth rate seem, at some point, to simply explode with growth.
I live in Wisconsin and have a patchouli plant that flowered and died in my grrenhouse becuase I under watered it. I waited till it completely dryed out and gathered the dryed seedheads and had about 20 seeds ...I lightly covered and watered and gave up on this but noticed 3 weeks later tiny plants emergings. I planted the 2 that survived last year and this year did cuttings and now am up to 12 plants... My greenhouse tempuratures go from 55-110 degrees during the year and as long as you keep it watered it grows fine in a 12 inch pot...
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Midland City, Alabama Fairbanks, Alaska Albany, California Clayton, California Fresno, California Los Angeles, California (2 reports) Sacramento, California Stockton, California Cheval, Florida Citrus Ridge, Florida Jacksonville, Florida Naples, Florida North Andrews Gardens, Florida North Sarasota, Florida Rockledge, Florida Seminole, Florida Spring Hill, Florida Woodlawn, Illinois Breaux Bridge, Louisiana New Orleans, Louisiana Columbia, Maryland Centertown, Missouri Helena, Montana Campton, New Hampshire Albuquerque, New Mexico Moyock, North Carolina Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania Hummelstown, Pennsylvania Mount Joy, Pennsylvania Oakwood, Pennsylvania Kiawah Island, South Carolina Moncks Corner, South Carolina Austin, Texas (2 reports) Bedford, Texas Cut And Shoot, Texas Deer Park, Texas Farmers Branch, Texas Fort Worth, Texas Houston, Texas (2 reports) San Antonio, Texas Sunset Valley, Texas Volga, West Virginia Wild Rose, Wisconsin