This is a blog post on growing and harvesting Pandan (Vanilla Grass) leaves. Pandas leaves or Vanilla grass grows well in tropical countries. The leaves are used a lot in South East Asian cuisines. From main courses to desserts. It’s a natural green leave vanilla flavoring hence the name Vanilla Grass. I love cooking with it as well that is why I was looking to grow it at home.
Growing and harvesting Pandan plant (Vanilla Grass)
It is impossible to grow from seed as pandan plants hardly ever produce seeds. It is normally grown from offshoots or rhizomes from its mother plant.
In Asia, it is not a problem as they grow like weeds. However, to get hold of it in the UK is quite rare. I manage to find a UK based seller that sells a pandan plants. While I am not against international sellers buying a live plant is different. Try to source it locally. the pandan plant would not grow as rapidly as it well as it would in the tropics. Therefore it will yield a lot less than it can use in desserts. In order for the pandan to produce flavour, the mature the plant the stronger the flavour and colour. So try to source a more mature plant however it would definitely cost more.
It arrived well boxed up with no hassle. To grow in the UK can be an issue as the pandan plant crown doesn’t like cold and moisture trapped in the leaves. I grew it in a pot of manure compost in a sunny spot. The only way to water it is just by watering the soil, not the leaves. I have kept it indoors over winter. However, after a few months, the leaves were eaten by some bug. I put the pandan plant outside in late springtime for some outdoor time. This lasted for the season it was happy it even produce some offshoots/ young plants. However, come autumn I left it in a drafty greenhouse. The pandan crown didn’t like the trapped moisture and that was the end of its life.
It’s a tricky plant to grow outside the tropics, it likes filtered sun and humid conditions. A sunny bathroom will be the best place.
Buying pandan plant
Would I grow it again yes if I can get hold of some young shoots on the cheap? The average price for the pandan plant in the UK is around £15 to £25. If it is probably not again. Not unless I am desperate to get hold of them. Or there is a supply network been but away for fresh or frozen pandan leaves. Even with the current pandemic, it is possible to get hold of Pandan plant. Facebook groups like Malaysian Food in the United Kingdom. I even recently sellers in Germany using google image search. Here is one link to it. It doesn’t come cheap with delivery it set back 32 euros. The supplies are limited everywhere so don’t be surprise it is not in stock anymore.