Growing Betel leaf plant is not difficult but you need to be aware of its requirements. This rare, mildly stimulant herb can also be grown in containers, in a balcony, and even indoors in partial sunlight!
Betel leaf plant (piper betel) is a creeper grown in India. It belongs to the pepper family. Its waxy green, heart-shaped leaves are used for medicinal and culinary purposes. When crushed, it exudes cool peppery scent. It’s used in making a famous dessert called ‘Paan’ which is chewed with betel nut as a mouth freshener. This mildly stimulant herb is popular in whole South Asia (Indian subcontinent), Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Learn how to grow betel leaf plant, follow this short guide.
USDA Zones: 9 to 11, *can be grown colder zones as an annual
Planting Season: Spring and early summer (anytime in warm, tropical climate)
Other Names: Wild pepper, kadok, bai cha plu, daun kaduk, betel pepper, la lot, paan, piper betle
It’s a perennial herb, which can also be grown in containers and hanging baskets. You can grow it from cuttings and root division. It thrives well in subtropical and tropical climate but growing betel leaf plant in a cold climate (as an annual, mostly) is also possible with extra care, in containers.
Plant’s primary stem grows up to 1 m. long, after that it forms creeping stems having heart-shaped leaves that contain mild scent and exotic white spike-like flowers. It can be either trained as a climber or grown as a ground cover.
Propagation & Planting Betel Plant
It’s better if you buy a plant from a nursery, however, if you want to propagate it from cuttings, take about 18 cm long stem. Make 45 degrees cut using a sharp knife just below the leaf node. Remove all leaves from the cutting except top 2 leaves. Put the cutting in a glass of fresh water and place it on a spot like a windowsill in indirect sunlight. Keep changing the water every 2 days. Once several roots appear, transplant it into a deep container or in the ground.
Requirements for Growing Betel Leaf Plant (Paan)
It prefers slightly acidic, sandy-loamy and lightly damp soil but not waterlogged. Use the well-drained potting mix to plant it in a way that water will drain out from it quickly. Pick a less windy spot with partial shade for planting. *Choose a medium sized deep planter, if you’re growing it in the container.
Betel Leaf Care
2. Prune regularly after it reaches 2 m. height to control the plant, regular pruning and plucking of leaves encourage new growth and sweet and tender leaves.
3. Occasional feeding in every couple of month in growing season of the plant with nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer like manure or compost is recommended.
4. (In cold climate) Keep it indoors in winters when the temperature starts to fall below 41F (5C) in a warm and cozy room under grow light. It becomes dormant in brutal cold and sometimes shed its leaves too, but get to grow again in spring and remain in growth until fall.
In such conditions keep care of watering, over watering can cause root rot.
Pests and Diseases
It’s not pest free of course, and attacked by red mites occasionally, which can be treated with insecticidal soap. It also suffers from fungal diseases, especially in rainy season or when overwatering is done. To save the plant, watering should be reduced. Leaf blight is another problem which affects betel plant in which brown and black oily patches cover the leaf. Leaf blight can be treated by simply pulling off the infected leaf or stem.
Within four to six months after planting, it’ll be ready for harvest. You can pick off the fresh aromatic leaves for various uses.
Betel Leaf Plant Medicinal Uses
Betel leaf is a rare herb except in Asia, though it has many medicinal benefits. The leaves are especially helpful for clearing the bronchial passages, cough, and cold and for the female reproductive system. Click here and here to learn more about the medicinal uses of betel leaf plant.