The heart-shaped betel leaf (Piper betle) with reticulate venation is also called paan in Hindi. The Paan plant has played a crucial role in Indian culture for many centuries. In Assam paan and betel nut are offered to invite guests to marriage functions. While in Bengali culture, the bride enters the wedding mandap covering her face with two betel leaves. In the Southern states of India, no festival or religious function is complete without paan and supari being a part of return gift for the guests.
Indians love the herby paan as a chewable mouth freshener. Loved by both the erstwhile royals and the present-day commoners in their daily life, paan also has multiple health benefits.
This famed and well-loved edible plant is extremely easy to grow at home and does well in a variety of growing conditions. Let's take a look at the detailed care guide for growing betel leaf plants at home.
Betel Leaf Care
The paan leaf plant or betel leaf plant doesn’t have a rigorous care regime when grown at home. This creeper belongs to the pepper family that can be grown on moss poles, trellises, or in hanging planters. The following are some key points to consider in betel plant care
The betel leaf plant loves a rich but well-draining potting medium that stays moist but drains quickly. The plant does not like staying dry but hates being waterlogged even more. Use a deep pot with a potting mix consisting of garden soil, coco peat, and compost is a good mix. It is important to ensure that the container has ample drainage holes at the bottom.
Betel leaf plants are shade-loving plants that love partial light. If grown outdoors, plant it under the shade of a larger tree as ground cover or allow it to grow on the tree trunks. In homes, the betel leaf plant does great in east or north-facing corners where they receive bright indirect light through the day. They also love a few hours of morning light.
Water your paan leaf plant regularly to keep the potting mix moist at all times. But ensure that the potting mix is not soggy or waterlogged. Empty the base plate soon after watering to avoid root rot. In summers the plant might need watering on a daily basis depending on where it is placed, while in rains or winters the watering schedule will reduce.
While watering if the soil is too dry and cracked, water in batches. Watering the plant in one go will make the water run out of the potting mix without being absorbed by the soil. So it is essential to water in batches to allow the potting mix to absorb the water completely.
Betel leaf plants love frequent feedings and they reciprocate with bigger leaves and a thicker stem. Feed your plant every 20 days with a well-balanced houseplant fertiliser like the Ugaoo Plant tonic in the months of spring to monsoon.
Propagating Betel leaf
The betel leaf plant can be propagated by stem cutting. Take at least a 5 to 6-inch cutting from the main plant and remove the lowermost leaves and retain only the top two leaves. Place the cuttings in a bottle filled with water in a well-lit area till it grows roots. Once the roots emerge plant them in a deep planter with a well-draining soil mix.
Repotting betel leaf plant
Repotting betel leaf plants is fairly simple. Repotting of paan plant should only be undertaken when the current planter is full of roots or in other words, the plant is root-bound. If you notice roots coming out of the drainage hole or showing on top of the topsoil, then it's time to repot your plant.
Select a planter at least 3-4 inches larger than the current planter. Gently remove the plant from the current planter and loosen the root system by taking out as much soil as possible from it. Make sure to not damage the root.
Now plant it in the slightly larger planter with a fresh well-draining potting mix.
Types of betel leaf plant
There are several different types of betel leaf plants, the most famous being Calcutta, Banarasi, and Magahi. Ugaoo sells the very famous Magahi variety which is well known for its taste.
How to deal with the problem of betel leaf plant
Betel leaf plants can be infested with red mites occasionally. When you spot an infestation, physically remove the mites and then spray the plant with neem oil.
Leaf blight is another problem that affects the foliage with brown and black oily patches that leads to leaf necrosis. It can be simply treated by pruning away the infested leaves.
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