Saturday, March 5, 2011

Herbs and their friends

I've had some difficulty growing herbs here in the tropics as I don't know whether I'm giving them too much water, or not enough. A lot of them find it tough as they aren't naturally used to the humidity, but when I saw some lovely plants in the supermarket, I had to try again. This time I thought I'd do it differently.
Firstly, I didn't put them immediately out on my balcony. I left them in my kitchen, which is dark when not being used, for a few days to have some quiet time and to acclimatise to the humidity. I don't know where they were grown, but they'd been in the supermarket air conditioning for several days at least.

While they were sitting there, I tried to research herbs in the tropics and found this useful page which has some good general information and a list of individual herbs as well. What I got from it was the new plants should be watered daily for the first week, that most of them seem to prefer morning sunshine and they need shelter from heavy rain. The first was easy, but the second was hard - I face west, so my plants get the harsher afternoon sun. Most of my current plants like that. My bird's nest fern, for example, adores it and sulked when I was living facing east for a while.

So, with that in mind, I decided to plant them in with established plants that will temper the sun by giving them some shade yet not cover them completely, and will also give them some protection from the local heavy downpours and strong winds.

So far, they seem to be going quite well, which is great. So now, I want to go and get more!

The basil with my red hibiscus

Basil loves the sun, but it has soft stems, so I paired these two as the hibiscus is bushy and will protect the basil from the wind and rain, but it isn't so high that it'll block all the sun.

The chives and the white hibiscus

I felt that I didn't have to worry too much about the wind with the chives as its leaves are very resilient, but I was concerned about the rain and the strong early afternoon sun. So I paired it with my white hibiscus which will give protection from overhead, but not block the lovely late afternoon sun.

The French tarragon and its local companion

The tarragon (on the right) has woody stems and is fairly strong, but I wanted protection for it as it settles in and gets going. I think it will eventually tower over its partner, but they will give each other support. I don't know the name of the local herb. I was told its properties, but not the name. If anyone can tell me, I'd really appreciate it.

And these are my spinach seedlings.

They are ready to be transplanted to other pots and places. I think I'll pair them up with others as well, as I don't have enough space!! But they grow really easily, the only thing is not to let them grow too big as their roots take over the pot and you can't pull them out without emptying the pot. That's fine if they're by themselves, but tough if they're with other plants.


  1. The local plant (local to Asia) is Karpuravalli,
    Coleus ambonicus. Karpuravalli is it's Tamil name which apparently means Camphor. My friend Jane kindly found out for me. She sent the link Which has a picture and some information.

  2. Plectranthus amboinicus is another name that's been found. Also known as Indian Borage!