Growing Betel Leaf Plant is not difficult, but you need to be aware of its requirements. Here’s a detailed guide to grow it easily in containers anywhere!
Betel leaf plant (piper betel) belongs to the pepper family. Its waxy green, heart-shaped leaves look great as a potted plant and are used for medicinal and culinary purposes. If you want to add a different specimen to your collection, then Growing Betel Leaf Plant makes perfect sense!
Learn how to grow betel nut tree here
Betel Leaf Plant Information
When crushed, the leaves of the Betel Leaf plant exude a cool peppery scent. It’s used in making a famous dessert called ‘Paan,’ which is chewed with betel nut as a mouth freshener in India. This mildly stimulant herb is popular in whole South Asia (Indian subcontinent), Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
USDA Zones: 9 to 11, *can be grown Indoors, or Outdoors as an annual in colder zones
Planting Season: Spring and summers in a cold climate. But anytime in a warm, tropical climate.
Other Names: Wild pepper, kadok, bai cha plu, daun kaduk, betel pepper, la lot, paan, piper betle, pan, paan patta
Propagating Betel Leaf Plant
Take a 4-6 inches long cutting from a healthy plant. Make 45 degrees cut using a sharp knife just below the leaf node. Remove all leaves from the cutting except the top 2 ones.
Dip the end in a rooting hormone and plant the cutting in a well-draining potting medium. Water well, and keep the pot where it gets bright, indirect light.
You can also propagate the plant in water, but it’s not that effective—Put the cutting in a glass of fresh water and place it on the spot like a windowsill in indirect sunlight. Keep changing the water every 3-4 days. Once several roots appear, transplant the cutting into a pot with a well-draining potting mix.
A Tip: It’d be a good idea to buy a healthy plant from a nursery to save time.
Requirements for Growing Betel Leaf Plant
The plant does best in filtered sunlight, so keeping it at a dappled or shaded location would be best—also, avoid keeping it in a totally dark spot. Never expose the plant to the harsh afternoon sun for long, as it will burn the foliage.
It prefers slightly acidic, sandy-loamy, and lightly damp soil but it should not promote waterlogging. Use a well-drained potting mix rich in organic matter like aged manure, you can also mix coarse sand to improve drainage.
Take care of watering the plant in a way where the soil remains slightly moist. Avoid overwatering and stagnant water around the plant as it will cause fungal issues. The best method to follow is to let the topsoil a wee bit dry between watering while maintaining the regular moisture.
Quick Tips on Betel Leaf Care
- Prune regularly for harvesting after it reaches a height of 3-4 feet. Plucking of leaves encourages new growth and sweet and tender leaves.
- Occasional feeding every couple of months in the growing season of the plant with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer is recommended. Alternatively, you can side dress the plant with aged manure or compost 2-3 times a year.
- In cold climates, keep it indoors in winters when the temperature starts to fall below 41 F (5 C) in a warm and cozy room under grow light.
- Overwatering can cause root rot, so avoid it at all costs.
- Be careful of red mites—if noticed, they can be treated with insecticidal soap.
- Leaf blight is another problem that affects the betel plants. Simply snip away the infected leaf or stem.
Growing Betel Leaf Indoors
You can also grow betel leaf plant indoors to enjoy the look of its large and lush foliage while getting a fresh supply for the amazing Indian staple “Paan!” Just ensure that you keep it near any window that filters indirect light on the plant.
Go with a small 6-8 inches pot, water the plant so that the growing medium stays a little moist always—however, avoid too much moisture.
Harvesting Betel Leaf
Within four to six months after planting, it’ll be ready for harvest. You can pick off the fresh aromatic leaves for various uses, like making the tremendous South Asian mouth freshener paan. Do make sure that you are not harvesting more than 1/4 plant at a time. Use a clean pair of scissors to take the leaves off.
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.