How to Grow Pandan in Temperate Climates

pandan plants tubestock

Pandan plant (Pandanus amaryllifolius) (Chinese Name : 班兰) is a tropical plant native to South East Asia. It’s a perennial evergreen tree with fragrantly-scented leaves, growing into a small shrub 1 – 1.6 m tall when the leaves are harvested often, or a small tree 2 – 4.5 m tall in it’s tropical native habitat. Picking the leaves prevents it from growing into a tree form and keeps it small. The plant eventually forms an upright trunk, with a canopy of long, strappy leaves with thick aerial roots hanging down from the trunk.

How is the Pandan Plant Used?

Pandan leaves are used in South-East Asian cuisine to wrap chicken, pork, fish and glutinous rice before they are barbecued or steamed to impart the distinct and unique flavour, which is described as being a milky-sweet, floral-rose-almond-vanilla-like.The fresh or frozen leaves need to be be bruised or boiled to release their flavour, and dried pandan leaves are described as having little to no flavour at all.

In soups and stews, the leaves are tied in a knot and placed in the food as it’s cooking to give flavour and fragrance. In many dishes the leaves are cut into large pieces and cooked with the food, then removed afterwards, as they are fibrous and inedible. Pandan leaf is also used to flavour curries in Balinese, Malaysian, Sri Lankan and Thai cooking.

Fresh leaves are also used in cakes and other desserts, confectioneries (such as agar jellies) and drinks. The fresh leaves are crushed or boiled to extract the green chlorophyll pigments, which are used to colour foods bright green. Commercially produced pandan extract can also be purchased for the same purpose.

This versatile plant is also used medicinally, infusions of the leaf are used as a calming sedative for restlessness, while infusions of pandan leaf in coconut oil are rubbed on the skin to treat rheumatism. The roots contain the compound 4-hydroxybenzoic acid which is a potential anti-diabetic drug.

More than just culinary, pandan leaves have pest repellent properties too, they contain the compound 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline which is a repellant to the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) and German cockroach (Blattella germanica).

Growing Conditions for Pandan

Being a tropical plant, pandan doesn’t like too much sun or wind, and is best grown in a protected, part-shade position. A position that gets direct morning sun and a bit of dappled midday sun is ideal, but keep it away from hot afternoon sun! It’s also drought and frost tender, which means that the plant wont survive dry conditions or low temperatures, so keep the soil moist during the warm seasons and protect it from the cold. In fact, if the temperature falls below 10 C°(50 F°), the plant is best moved indoors for protection in cooler climates, as the plant is damaged by temperatures of 7 C°(44.6 F°) and below.

In its natural environment, pandan prefers light well drained, moderately fertile soils. In cooler climates, grow pandan in a pot with a good quality potting mix.

Pandan Plant Care in Temperate Climate Warm Seasons

Since tropical plants grow in climates which have hot, wet, humid summers and drier cool seasons, ensure that the pandan plant is kept moist (but not wet) during hot weather periods. Do not sit the plant pot in a saucer of water, that will rot out the roots. You can use a spray bottle to mist the leaves on hot days to maintain humidity around the plant, or sit the plant on a humidity tray (see below) to maintain humidity around the plant. Having other plants around the pandan will also provide protection from winds and increase the humidity levels. During spring and summer pandan can be grown outside in a protected spot. Locate the plant on the east side of the house where it will mainly get morning sun, use shade-cloth (50% screening grade) to reduce the effects of sun and wind when the plant is in a more exposed location.

Pandan Plant Care in Temperate Climate Cool Seasons

When the weather begins to cool down, it’s important to reduce the amount of water, keep the soil just moist, as tropical plants dislike wet soil in cold weather. When overnight temperatures fall to 10 C°(50 F°) or below, bring the plant indoors. When day and night temperatures remain cold, keep the plant indoors until the weather warms up again. Make sure that the plant pot is placed in a location which receives good light during the day, don’t place it too close to the window, as it’s colder near the glass in winter, especially at night!

It’s important to choose the right indoor location for growing pandan, most houses have heating systems, such as ducted heating, which blows hot, dry air – this will provide the warmth but dry out and kill a pandan plant. Either choose a room with good light and no heating duct, such as a laundry perhaps, or use a humidity tray to keep the humidity levels high around the plant. Once again, you can use a spray bottle to lightly mist the plant leaves to maintain humidity levels around the plant, or sit the plant on a humidity tray to maintain humidity around the plant. If the pandan plant is kept in a cold room, don’t wet the leaves as water will sit in the spaces between the leaves and the stem, become cold water and rot the stem.

Any sudden or extreme change in growing conditions will stress a plant, so it’s best to make any changes gradually. If a pandan plant has been kept indoors through autumn and winter, gently acclimatize it to outdoor conditions in spring by placing it in a shady, wind-free protected location for an hour or two, and gradually increase the time outside every few days. Once the plant has adjusted to outdoor conditions, remember to monitor the overnight temperature forecasts, and to bring the plant indoors if the nights get cool!

How to Repot a Pandan Plant to Avoid Overpotting

pandan plants in tube pot and small rectangular pot

When repotting any plants, avoid potting them in an overly large pot, it is better to move them up to the next pot size only.

If a small plant is placed in a much larger pot, the small root system won’t be able to take up all the water, so the bulk of the potting medium will stay wet. Many plants don’t like constantly wet growing conditions, as this can cause the roots to rot. Pandan plants definitely don’t like excess water in the cooler seasons in temperate climates, they like to be kept barely moist.

When a small plant is placed in a very large pot, this is called overpotting – don’t overpot pandan plants, if they need to be transplanted to a larger pot, select a pot that is the next size up, and only transplant in the warmer seasons when the plant is actively growing, the best times are from spring through to early summer.

In the picture above, the pandan plant in a 50mm forestry tube has been transplanted into a 100mm wide seedling pot, next pot size will be 15cm wide, then 20 or 25cm, depending on the size of the plant. Going from a 50mm forestry tube to a 15cm wide pot would still be fine as long as it’s not too late in summer, just ensure that the plant has enough growing time to extend its roots into the pot.

When transplanting or repotting plants, its a good idea to water them with seaweed extract (sold as Seasol in Australia), as it contains compounds called cytokinins, which are plant root growth stimulating hormones, they help the plant establish itself better and reduce the effects of transplant shock. When repotting, transplanting or planting, use 30mL of seaweed extract in a 9 litre watering can, water once at planting time and again 1 week later.

Since pandan is a tropical plant, it grows in warm, humid conditions. It will dry out if exposed to dry heat or windy conditions. It’s easy to create humid conditions around the plant with a simple DIY humidity tray.

How to Make a Humidity Tray

Constructing a humidity tray is very simple, just take a plastic tray which can hold water, fill it with stones or pebbles, then add water below the level the top of the stones or pebbles, so that a plant pot sitting on the surface is kept out of the water below.

Water evaporating from the wet stones will increase the humidity around the plant, it’s that simple!

diagram humidity tray for pot plants
A humidity tray increases moisture in the air around pots for plants that dislike dry air

For the plastic tray, a deep plastic pot saucer works well, the one pictured below is filled with scoria, which is a porous volcanic rock. Shiny pebbles work just as well, it makes no difference

Humidity tray made from a large plastic pot saucer, and filled with coarse scoria, a very light and porous volcanic rock which holds more water

Larger plastic trays can hold much more plants, and aggregating a number of plants together helps retain the humidity around them.

A humidity tray made from a deeper plastic tray, and filled with scoria

Here’s a pandan potted up and sitting on a humidity tray. This can be placed near a well-lit window indoors, and an occasional topping up of the water is all that’s required. A regular misting would also help in heated areas with warm dry air, just keep the plant away from the heating ducts and the flow of air coming from them.

pandan plant on humidity tray
Pandan plant potted into a larger pot sitting on humidity tray for indoor use

To create even more humidity around the plant, use a clear plastic storage tub, place the humidity tray and the plant inside it, the surrounding walls of the container will retain a lot more humidity around the plant.

diagram increasing humidity around pandan plant
Humidity around pandan plant can be increased by placing the humidity tray inside a clear plastic storage tub or other similar transparent container that lets light through

For those who want to go a step further, it’s possible to raise the temperature a bit more too!

An electric heat mat for raising plants seedlings can be used, just sit it under the humidity tray, it will warm the water, increase evaporation and create a nice warm humid microclimate for the pandan plant.

A heat mat with a thermostat can be set to 20°C (68°F) and left running. In winter it will switch on to maintain warmth, and will switch off during the warmer seasons. Remember to check the humidity tray for water, as it evaporates faster when a heat mat is used.


National Parks Board, Singapore.Government, Flora & Fauna Web, Pandanus amaryllifolius Roxb.

20 thoughts on “How to Grow Pandan in Temperate Climates

    1. Apparently in places like Singapore pandan grows as a wild plant along the sides of the road! Some places have the best ‘weeds’ lol!

      1. I noticed pandan growing wild (in pictures) on the northeast coast of Australia. To those who consider it to be a weed, it is just as bothersome as our weeds are to us; but that does not make their weeds any less enviable.

      2. The pandan plant used in Asian cooking and basket-making is Pandanus amaryllifolius, while our Australian native pandan here in Australia is a different species, it’s Pandanus tectorius, which produces edible fruit and seeds! A lot of interesting plants grow in the tropics!

  1. Great article. Do you have advice on how often to water them indoors? Mine has leaves that are very dry and breaking to the touch. I have built a humidity tray now, as suggested in your article.

    1. I water my pandan plant when the pot feels a little light, it feels very heavy when just watered. Sounds like your plant may have dried out completely, the leaves should be soft!

      1. Thank you very much for your quick reply. I watered until the water would come out of the pot and then empty out the water. I guess that was too much. Oh well…

      2. That’s how I water my pandan, but you need a decent quality potting mix to retain the water. If the weight of the pot hasn’t increased after watering it, then it’s not retaining water and has to be watered again till the potting mix becomes moist.

      3. OK I see. Ive repotted the plant and will try to get a grip on how much I water it.
        Thank you!

  2. My 3.5 years old pandan plant is dying after re-potting it a few months ago. The leaves are turning brown and the whole plant (including the stem) is drying up. It was previously a healthy and strong plant and it produced many side shoots. How do I revive it? Any tips would be grateful. Thanks.

    1. Hi Lindsey, pandan should only be repotted in spring or summer when it’s actively growing in temperate climates. In the cooler seasons, it’s dormant, so if it’s repotted into a bigger pot, the roots won’t grow into the extra potting mix and it will become ‘overpotted’ and stay too wet. You can put it back into its old pot and water with bit of seaweed extract to help with transplant shock.

  3. Hi Angelo, thanks for sharing how to grow pandas. I just bought one 3 weeks ago, but I didnt know I need to keep it indoor in early winter. I kept it in garage and exposed in direct sun during daytime. Now the leaves are brownish and turning yellow as well. How can I revive it please? Im in Sydney.

    1. Please take your pandan plant indoors and just keep the soil barely moist, maybe water with some seaweed extract as the plant is stressed, and give it time to hopefully recover.

      1. Hi Angelo,
        Forgot to say thank you for your reply and unfortunately I’d killed my lovely pandan plant. I’ll try to buy other pot when it’s in summer. Tks again.

  4. Hi Angelo, thank you for your article which is very useful. I live in Sydney and have a pandan plant, just want to know how can I keep my plant alive if I am going away for 3-4 weeks during autumn in April, thank you.

  5. In Melbourne- Winter I kept plant in partly covered spot where it gets sun during the day But the lush green leaves are drying up It has some water, Should I take it indoors? Night temperature is about 8C average

    1. The temperatures in winter have been way colder than 8 degrees Celcius this winter, it should be brought indoors some time in autumn when the cold nights start.

  6. Hi Angelo, do you think your method would work for Canberra climate. I have killed several plants during winter even when I had them indoor. I also think the heater (dry air) contributed to it. I haven’t tried your method (keeping in a tub with suspended pot).

    1. Hi Annisa, using this method will work, even with your cold winters. The humidity tray provides the necessary moisture in the air to stop the plant drying out. My pandan plant is growing well with my setup – I have the plant in a shallow humidity tray filled with scoria that all sits on a heatpad that is set to 20 degrees Celsius in an unheated room. It had survived several cold winters indoors!

  7. Hi

    Recently the top of the plant was damaged so removed the top; however, the root is still good. Do you think the plant can be saved ? or Once the top is damaged the plant is done?


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