Jiaogulan Plant: Tips and Tricks for the Hardy Herb

Jiaogulan (other spelling Jiao Gu Lan plant) is an herb with a long history. For more than 500 years it has been used in various applications in Chinese medicine. During a census, it was noticed that in the province of Guizhou in southern China, the proportion of people over the age of one hundred was above average. In the mountainous regions of southern China, the plant is called «Xianco», which means «herb of immortality». The climbing Jiaogulan plant is robust and hardy and can also be used as a traffic light plant in the garden or in the house.

Useful information Location Planting Care Watering Fertilizing Overwintering Harvesting Pests & Diseases FAQ

Interesting facts about Jiaogulan

Botanical name: Gynostemma pentaphyllum
Other names: Immortality herb, Gulan, Vining indigo plant, Five-leaf ginseng, Xianxao, Dungkulcha, Amachazuro, Jiao Gu Lan Plant
Use: Climbing and climbing plant, summer green garden plant, green plant in the house
Origin: China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, India
Flowering period: usually mid-June to the end of August
Flower: relatively inconspicuous, star-shaped, yellow-green, there are male and female flowers
Special features:Gynostemma pentaphyllum belongs to the cucurbit family and is therefore related to the cucumber and the squash. As a perennial creeper and climbing plant, it can grow several meters long under optimal conditions. In our vegetation, however, the deciduous plant grows to a maximum of 2 m long outdoors, and it can be even more luxuriant when cultivated indoors. The plant is gaining more and more followers and whether planted out in the garden or as a potted plant in the house, the herb of immortality is an attractive foliage plant.

In which location does the Jiaogulan feel most comfortable?

As houseplants, jiaogulan plants grow indoors all year round. Planted out in the garden, the plants are decorative climbing plants from May to September in full sun. Without much care, Gynostemma pentaphyllum offer decorative privacy with rich foliage all summer long. In autumn the leaves fall and the Jiaogulan plant survives the winter thanks to underground, thickened storage roots. The next spring, new shoots will grow from the rhizomes. The Jiaogulan plant requires a well-drained soil, waterlogging will not be tolerated. In sites with heavy, loamy soil, good soil preparation before planting is important. Use gravel and sand for good drainage, because the perennials will not grow well if they are waterlogged. You should improve light sandy soils with high-quality potting soil or herbal soil before planting. A sunny to partially shaded location is ideal.

Our gardening tip: A trellis for the twining shoots is recommended both as a houseplant and as a garden plant.

What is the best way to plant my Jiaogulan?

As a houseplant, the Jiaogulan herb can be planted all year round. Ideally, plant the «herb of immortality» in a larger container immediately after purchase. With a large pot you ensure that the roots can develop well, the Jiaogulan plant can grow well and the soil never dries out. Planting outdoors can take place from April to July, so the plant is rooted by autumn and is not damaged in the first winter. Young plants that have only come from propagation should not be planted out in the garden until spring. Overwintering indoors is recommended.

Tips on planting Jiaogulan herb

  • Place the pot in a container well filled with water and submerge the root ball until no more air bubbles rise. This ensures that the plant is sufficiently watered.
  • Dig a planting hole twice the size and depth of the creeper’s root ball.
  • If necessary, you can put a thin layer of drainage in the planting hole.
  • Repot your jiaogulan and place it in the planting hole.
  • Fill the space between the root ball and the planting hole with high-quality potting soil or herbal soil. The pH of the soil should be between 6 to 7.5.
  • Sprinkle organo-mineral fertilizer around the plant and work it lightly into the soil.
  • Press the soil lightly so that the so-called ground contact is created.
  • Water the plant with 3 to 5 liters of water.

    How do I care for my Jiaogulan?

    Jiaogulan plants are absolutely easy to care for and undemanding and only need regular pruning for rejuvenation. It is optimal if you continuously harvest leaves and shoots and thus stimulate the plant to grow. Pruning is not necessary, but beneficial for indoor plants and can be done all year round and at any length. After pruning, the beautiful plant thrives well and quickly forms new shoots. You can also just shorten individual shoots, which will have the positive effect that more fresh leaf mass will grow. Specimens planted in the garden are cut down to the ground in spring and all dead shoots are removed from the trellis. As with many other plants, cut back after winter in March before new growth. Further care measures are not necessary. Strong plants quickly form a dense foliage and decorate the garden and balcony for many months.

    How do I water my Jiaogulan properly?

    Thorough watering of the Jiaogulan plant immediately after planting is important. The amount depends essentially on the size of the root ball and the soil moisture. However, as a rule of thumb, 3 to 5 liters can be given per plant. Repeat watering once a week for the first 3 to 4 weeks depending on sun exposure and rainfall. Once your Gynostemma pentaphyllum has established itself and new roots have formed, watering is only necessary in extremely hot and low-rainfall phases. Waterlogging is not tolerated and should be avoided. It is best to water in the morning and directly to the root, never over the leaf. As a houseplant and container plant, need-based watering is necessary all year round, only in this way can the herb of immortality grow continuously. The root ball should dry out a bit between the individual waterings. Water requirements vary depending on temperature, plant size and location.

    How do I fertilize my Jiaogulan properly?

    Jiaogulan plants grow quickly and quickly develop a large leaf mass. An even supply of water and nutrients is essential for lush growth. After the initial fertilization when planting, regular re-fertilization with organic herb fertilizer or organic garden fertilizer is recommended. It is important that you only fertilize the plant when the root ball is well moist to avoid root damage. In the field, the last fertilization takes place at the beginning of August, then you should pause fertilizing until next spring. As a potted plant, fertilizer can be given all year round according to the recommended dosage. The herbaceous perennials only grow in winter if there is a sufficient supply of nutrients. With a lack of fertilizer, the shoots are weak and light in color.

    How do I overwinter my Jiaogulan?

    The herb of immortality can be in the house all year round as a potted plant or enjoyed as a container plant on the balcony and terrace from May to October and overwintered at 15 to 20 °C and light. If you hibernate in the dark, you should set up the container plant at a maximum of 5 °C. Planted out in the garden, Jiaogulan plants are conditionally hardy and usually sprout well. In climatically unfavorable locations and at temperatures below -15 °C, the plant suffers in winter. In the first year after planting, winter protection in the root area is recommended. A layer of compost, leaves or straw is suitable for this.

    What pests and diseases can the Jiaogulan get?

    Jiaogulan is a very robust garden herb that is rarely attacked by diseases and pests in the optimal location. If the site and climatic conditions are not right, the following abnormalities can occur:

    powdery mildew

    The fungal disease of jiaogulan is common in warm, dry temperatures and primarily affects the leaf surface and stems. The white coating can be wiped off and spreads quickly under optimal conditions. Generously remove the infested shoots and treat the plants with Bio Aktiv agent for plants susceptible to powdery mildew and fungi. Special plant extracts strengthen the cell walls and thereby prevent re-infestation. Mist the plant dripping wet weekly.

    FAQ — Frequently Asked Questions about Jiaogulan

    How can I preserve Jiaogulan?

    The easiest way is to spread the freshly harvested leaves of the jiaogulan plant flat on a wire rack. This allows air to reach the leaf mass from all sides. A warm, dry location without direct sunlight is ideal. After 1 to 2 weeks the leaves are dry and can be stored in airtight jars in a dark place.

    Why do the leaves of the Jiaogulan turn brown?

    Browning of the leaves is often the result of too sunny a location combined with an insufficient water supply.

    With which plant can the herbaceous plant be compared?

    Visually, five-leaf ginseng resembles various forms of virginia creeper. In 1825 the species was first known under the name Vitis pentaphylla. The plant was only given the name Gynostemma around 1900.

    What if black berries develop on Jiaogulan?

    Spherical berries up to eight millimeters in size can develop from the female flowers. These are used for reproduction and can be harvested when fully ripe. After a drying phase you can sow the seeds. It is important that the seed is covered, because Jiaogulan belongs to the group of dark germs.

    What if my jiaogulan doesn’t seed?

    The herb of immortality has male and female plants. If you only have one specimen, no fruit will form. This dioeciousness is also found in kiwi, holly, yew or nettle.

    How can the special plant be propagated?

    In addition to propagation by seeds, Gynostemma can also be propagated by cuttings (so-called vegetative propagation). Young plants do best in a grow house with a clear cover. Within a very short time, roots form on the cuttings and the young plants continue to grow rapidly. After a few weeks, the offshoots can then grow in a large pot or in the garden. To be on the safe side, plant young plants in the garden in spring or summer.

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