Pandanus amaryllifolius (Fragrant Pandan/Screwpine)
a lone ranger in a terracota pot at our backyard, was almost wrecked but ended remarkably well eventually!
Usually, the edible P. amaryllifolius or Fragrant Pandan suckers freely when grown in the ground with ample space to expand but very rarely in pots due to space constraints as observed and experienced by us over many years. However, a fluke incident showed us that it can be achieved, though somewhat differently.
This was what happened when the cat’s away, the mice were at play! The wild monkeys that prowled behind our backyard had a field day during our absence when we were holidaying at Felda Residence Hot Springs, Sungkai in December 2009. And, with our beloved miniature pinscher, Maxi, away too at a boarding home, they targeted our luxuriant Pandan Leaf plant and destroyed its growing tip as pictured on the right.
Were they rabid monkeys, we wondered? Should we throw away the damaged plant? Anyway, we opted to trim back on the tall and top-heavy potted plant, leaving behind just a 10-inch tall leafless stem with its aerial and stilt roots. Simply to experiment and see what will happen eventually with just usual watering.
Lo and behold, a couple of months later, we were delightfully surprised when a bunch of aerial offshoots emerged unexpectedly at the cut area of the stem. How wonderful …so many plantlets that can be propagated by growing them as new plants!
Really a blessing in disguise that also gave us new insights on how to get numerous pups from a single matured plant. Just need to cut off its top to induce its production! Can shorter sections of the leafless stem with just an aerial root or two be planted to get more plants, I wonder? Nonetheless, the tip cutting that has some aerial roots can be replanted to continue its growth.
Propagating the Pandanus amaryllifolius (syn: P. odorus)
The edible Pandan Leaves (Daun Pandan in Malay) does not produce seeds, hence it is propagated in the following ways:
1. By separating the suckers or offsets that emerge naturally from the soil at the base of the parent plant. To propagate, just detach one offshoot with its roots from the parent plant (either pull it with a slight force or use a garden spade or a sharp knife if necessary). Then, wash off any soil from its roots, trim away some of the basal leaves and replant it as a new plant in moist potting/garden soil with good drainage. Ensure that it is planted with soil level up to the neck. Best to site your plant in a semi-shaded spot and with regular watering, it should flourish with least care.
2. By removing aerial offshoots or plantlets that emerged atop the cut end of a pandan stem as seen in the above second image.
To get a matured Pandan Leaf plant to produce these offshoots, just cut its tip with a sharp knife. A cluster of plantlets will develop subsequently and once they form their own roots, you can cut them off from the parent plant and plant them individually as new plants in well-drained soil.
We propagated our cluster of aerial offshoots somewhat differently though. Knowing that it’s a little more difficult to propagate pandan plantlets with somewhat hardened aerial roots, we didn’t want to wait too long for that to develop. Once we observed that there were signs of tiny new root growth on the plantlets, we decided to prune off the whole cluster and remove the lower section of old stem and hardened aerial roots. Then, we planted them altogether in a single pot filled with garden soil (hehe…knowing pandan is not fussy, we conveniently used some recycled soil) to allow them to easily grow and develop their own roots. See illustrations below.
As seen in the photos below, the plantlets grew and matured very well over a period of a year. Hardy and fuss-free, they just require regular watering in our tropical heat, some sunshine and occasional feeding. Eventually, new suckers were added and number increased to 14 plants.
Looking closely at our potted plants recently, we realized that it was definitely time to propagate them as individual plants. Gosh, we had procrastinated in our garden chores far too long!
To propagate, as illustrated below, separate each sucker with its roots, snip off some older roots and basal leaves. Then pot it up to its neck in well-drained moist medium. It’s sure to grow with normal care – water regularly and provide sufficient sunlight. An occasional feed a month later will make it happy too.
Some tips on propagating Pandan amaryllifolius:
- provide sufficient ground space for the mature plant to produce numerous suckers for propagation.
- separate the offsets only when they have their own roots for optimum growth.
- you may need to soak the plantlet (especially if it has only 1-2 aerial roots that are rather thick), in clean water for a week or two to encourage more secondary root growth before potting in soil. Soak only the root section, not the leaves.
- in temperate or non-hardy regions: propagate during the warmer months, preferably in pots so that it can be overwintered indoors during winter and protected from frost. During winter too, water sparingly on the soil, not on the crown of plant to prevent trapped water that will lead to rot and its eventual demise. Learn more about winter care, where to buy them, etc. from this 3-year old Daleys Fruit Tree forum thread on Pandan amaryllifolius that’s to-date still active.