Pandanus - Screw Pine
DESCRIPTION: This tropical plant comes from Africa, Polynesia, Australia, and India. In their native lands they can reach a height of 60 feet. Their trunks are ringed with horizontal leaf scars, and roots, which act like props, grow from miscellaneous spots on the trunk and main stems into the ground and reduce the danger of the tree being blown over during storms. The leaves grow in clusters right out of the ends of the branches. They are shaped like long, thin swords, 2-3 feet in length. They are green or they may be a combination of green with white or yellowish stripes. They have sharp tips and little prickles along their perimeters and midveins. They produce large clusters of hidden flowers that are male and female on different spikes. The female flowers are followed by large, fleshy fruits that resemble cones. They don't produce flowers when they are small, but are often grown for their ornamental foliage. They are easy to grow and make nice houseplants. The fibers from several kinds of Pandanus are used for making rope, baskets, fans, and so forth, and the natives use the fruits as food.
POTTING: These plants need a winter temperature of 60-70 degrees. The best compost to use consists of two parts of turfy loam and equal parts of peat moss, leaf mold or humus, with a generous amount of crushed charcoal, sand and bone meal added. Repotting should be done from February to April. The new pots should be clean and a layer of crocks should be placed in the bottoms. Over the crocks, place a layer of the rough siftings from the compost or rough leaves. Firm potting is necessary. They need plenty of light at all times but shade them from the very bright sunlight in the summer and keep a humid atmosphere by frequently spraying the benches and floor and the leaves. Let the soil dry before watering, then thoroughly saturated it. Established plants should have plenty of water during the summer, but throughout the winter they should only be watered when the soil becomes fairly dry.
PROPAGATION: Suckers or offsets can be detached in the spring or summer and potted in 3-inch pots filled with sandy soil. Place the pots in a propagating case with a bottom heat of 70-75 degrees. When they are established, they can be repotted in 5-inch pots and, later, in larger pots. Small plants in 5- to 7-inch pots are nice for decorating the greenhouse and house. Since the leaves are so prickly and it's hard to sponge them, they need to be kept clean by spraying them with insecticide.
VARIETIES: P. Veitchii; P. Sanderi; P. Baptistii; P. utilis.
Back to our botanical home page.