How to Grow Kaduk (Wild Betel) in Container – a step-by-step guide in transplanting the kaduk (wild betel) plant to a container.
Kaduk (Wild Betel/Piper Sarmentosum) is a creeper plant that grows easily and wild in places with tropical climate like Malaysia. They have heart-shaped leaves with a glossy dark green color. These leaves are a popular herb in Southeast Asian cooking. They are also used as wrappings for minced meats and other fillings or as a base liner for decorative platters.
Popular Dishes Using Daun Kaduk (Wild Betel Leaves)
Two very popular dishes using daun kaduk that I have personally tasted are the Malaysian Nyonya Otak-Otak (Steamed Fish Custard) and Thai Miang Kham. My Grandma used to make Nyonya Steamed Otak-Otak when I was a kid. Since her passing, I have not eaten this Nyonya specialty and it is hard for me to recreate it because of the unavailability of this herb. Hence, my desire to grow this plant but it is proving to be quite a difficult task which I will explain later. That said, I recently recreated this special dish using a substitute herb and it turned out to be quite delicious.
First Attempt at Growing Kaduk (Wild Betel) in Minnesota
I have been searching for this Wild Betel plant forever and I was ecstatic to finally find it at Strictly Medicinal Seeds in Oregon. I ordered a galangal/lengkuas and two wild betel plants from them in November 2017. Since it was already cold in November in Minnesota, I repotted them indoors.
They did okay but were not thriving because of the cold weather. They got infested with aphids but I kept them alive by spraying them with neem oil throughout the winter. In late spring of 2018, I took them outside and repotted them. In the summer of 2018, we moved to Colorado. I transported my precious wild betel and galangal together with a few other plants with us in my car.
Kaduk Doing Well After The Move to Colorado
When we arrived in Colorado, we lived in a ground level apartment while waiting for our house to be built. I placed both plants in the balcony where there was filtered light. I was delighted that the wild betel plant finally started to grow healthy shiny leaves. Perhaps the plant will now thrive and not be attacked by aphids since the climate here in Colorado is much drier. My joy in this respect was short lived as it too got infested not long after this. There were too few leaves for me to use to make Otak-Otak and since we were in transition it was also hard for me to cook anything fancy in that tiny apartment kitchen.
I continued to nurture and spray it with neem oil right up to late fall when the weather turned cold again. It was too much to have to bring a sick plant indoors again and so I dumped it after promising myself that I will try growing it again after we moved into our new home.
In June 2019, I decided to place a second order for another try at growing this plant. This time they had even less of a fighting chance. Initially I placed the container outside but after 10 days I was super concerned that they were not taking root.
I quickly transplanted them into a smaller container and brought them indoors. For a while they got better and grew more leaves. Unfortunately, the dreaded aphids attack occurred again and I just gave up. 🙁 Maybe the third time’s a charm. Should I give it one more try?
These wild betel plants plants are supposed to be quite easy to grow but somehow the conditions here are not right even though they are brought indoors for the winter. I noticed that their roots are quite sensitive to moisture and susceptible to root rot. If I do try growing them another time, I will only water them when the soil is dry to the touch.
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- 1 unit 12 inch planter
- ¼ bag 1.5 qt organic potting mix
- 1 tbsp organic fertilizer
- 3 units kaduk (wild betel) plant
- Fill planter with a shallow layer of potting mix to about 2/3rd of the height of the planter.
- Sprinkle the organic fertilizer over the potting mix.
- Gently loosen the plant from its original container and transfer it into the prepared container. Space the plants out evenly.
- Fill the the container with more potting mix to cover up to the root ball of the plants.
- Spread an even layer of mulch over the bare soil.
- Water the plants thoroughly and check to make sure that excess water is draining from the holes in the container.
- Allow soil to dry out between waterings.