At the end of a March, I had an epic battle of untangling laksa leaves – also called rau ram, Vietnamese Coriander, and daun kesum – causing a mud explosion that looked like this:
And was doubtful whether I was doing more harm than good to the plant. Good news is 21 days later, the plant is now showing signs of a mini-tree in the making. Bad news is I had to move the plant to a bigger pot again.
The journey in images:
March 31: 6 days after the transplant, the plant was no more wilted-looking and showing promise for vigorous growth.
April 1: Spotting sprouts on stems!
April 6: Lots of leaves and stems growing upwards (the previous overcrowded plant was overflowing downwards)
April 13: Bigger leaves and taller stems
April 15: They love the sun but can tolerate shade, a very hardy plant that just wants to grow! I’ve been debating if I should move it into a 12-inch pot for the following reasons:
- Some roots are starting to peek out from the container’s drainage holes
- The soil was getting compact (I’m guessing from all the roots), affecting its ability to retain moisture.
April 20: Time to move to a bigger home.
April 20: Amazing how in just three weeks the plant has formed the amount of roots to solidify all soil into a soil brick. After loosening up the edges of the container with a shovel, I could easily wriggle out the entire contents of the container – plant, roots and soil.
April 20: Transfer to 12-inch pot complete! A mini-tree in the making!
But there’s more! Because I am who I am, and I love experiments and trying wonky things, I experimented with propagating laksa leaves with trimmed stems in water as well as soil.
Stems in water showed quicker results. In six days, they went from this:
To having significant roots:
I was having an overabundance of laksa leaves at this point, so it was a good time to experiment. I decided to try planting them indoors in water gels.
April 1: Moving the stems (now with super long roots) into water gels pre-soaked for 12 hours in water.
April 1: I used a mixture of transparent and blue beads to cover up all the roots, stopping below where the leaves were growing.
April 1: Moved the plant indoors as an ornamental plant in our bedroom.
If I can only use one adjective on this plant, it would be hands down hardy. It survived being indoors with minimal to no sunlight. Every six days or so, the water gels will substantially lose their size. I would then soak up the entire container – with the water gels and plant – in water overnight.
April 13: In the process of rewetting the water gels. Added some pink beads to the mix for additional color. When soaked in water, the beads turn semi-transparent allowing us to clearly see the stems and roots.
April 16: Was feeling guilty and gave the plant some sunlight.
April 20: Rewetting the water gels again. The plants are not doing bad indoors, it even gained some height. But obviously this growth rate is nothing compared to her fellow plants in soil. So in conclusion, laksa leaves in water gels are okay for fun and having something different indoors, but definitely not the choice to grow a herb plant for consumption.
The ones in soil had a really rough start. Just a day in their new environment, their leaves started wilting, and I eventually trimmed off all the dry leaves.
March 31: 6 days after the transplant, they were a sad sight with too much brown and barely there green. But I didn’t want to give up on them just yet.
April 3: Is that a new leaf?
April 6: I now officially announce that they are back from the dead!
April 11: Their will to survive is inspiring.
April 14: They are starting to look like a plant now, hard to imagine that two weeks ago there was no leaves at all.
April 20: Still growing! Will transplant them into larger pots soon.
All in all, they are a no-fuss plant that:
- Loves the sun but can tolerate shade, and loves water but are generally forgiving if under-watered.
- They are not too picky with soil and fertilizing, just good quality potting soil and occasional all-purpose fertilizer will be sufficient for them.
- I have not encountered any pest problems with them, and with biweekly insecticidal soap spray, occasional plucking out of wilted leaves (if any), plus being careful of not wetting the leaves when watering, no fungal problems so far either.
The Vege Girl Project: Day 48