Jiao-gu-lan, Japanese (Gynostemma pentaphyllum)
(Immortality, Amachazu, Jiao-gu-lan)
Native to China, Tibet, Japan and Southeast Asia, the blue-green leaves of this perennial vine may be taken fresh or dried and made into an excellent tea. Does well in pots. The taste of the tea is similar to nettles, and it is similarly fortifying and rich. Containing about 4 times more adaptogenic saponins than ginseng, the effects are energising. The herb has been successfully used in weight loss programs and for normalization of blood pressure. There are also marked antioxidant and antitumor effects. Ours is a potent cultivar from Japan, which is hardy to 20 degrees F. Thick mulch will assist these beauties in surviving harsh winters, or you can overwinter them indoors (they grow!) or in a cold greenhouse to add some protection.
This plant may be grown outdoors in a suitable environment, but it is also recommended for indoor growing as a houseplant and especially as a hanging plant. If potted up on a windowsill, the vines will creep up the curtains in a most engaging manner! Following, find some recommendations for growing this plant in indoor culture (an indoor windowsill, under a skylight, in a sunroom, but without auxiliary growlights):
Pot size: Quart to gallon. Does well in deep pots.
Soil: Standard potting soil mixture for houseplants as described extensively on page 107 of "The Medicinal Herb Grower" by Richo Cech, but in short: Mix together 1 gallon of hydrated coir, 1 gallon of compost or composted manure, 2 Tbsp micronutrient mix, 1/2 gallon coarse, sharp sand, 1 gallon pumice. Jiao Gu lan really does like a fast draining soil, so you can double the pumice in the above recipe.
Light requirement: Medium
Watering requirement: Medium. Water every 3 to 5 days.
Fertilization: Heavy feeder. Weekly foliar or root feeding of kelp tea, mycoblast, or compost tea.
Potential toxicity to pests or young children: ingesting large amounts of the fresh herb could upset the digestion or even prove emetic. Normal pets and children would not find it attractive enough to ingest on the scale that would cause them discomfort. It is best to dry the leaves and make tea, in which case the herb is healthy and harmless.
Setting outdoors: OK, but protect from hard frost and keep shaded.
Vacations: Probably OK to leave unattended for a week without water. If necessary, it may help to encase the plant in an inflated plastic bag, in which case it could hold for 2 weeks, more or less. If the tops die back, then cut them off, water again, and more green shoots should soon show.
Other recommendations for growing this plant indoors: Due to the relatively low light requirements of this species, and its delightful climbing habit, it really does make a reasonable houseplant. If it starts getting old having vines climbing up the wall, over granpa's photo and up the clock, just cut it back, make some tea, and the plant will have to restart its roaming. Propagate by crown division or replanting of the budded rhizomatous portions.
Feel free to order this plant at any time, but please be aware that we SHIP PLANTS APRIL 1 to AUGUST 1 AND SEPTEMBER1 to DEC 1 only. Orders received outside these months will be automatically backordered. If you are ordering plants out of season, you may wish to order them separately from your seeds, in order to streamline the process.
If you have chosen a PLANT* (marked with a *), shipping costs are as follows:
1 to 6 PLANTS* will ship for $14.90
7 to 8 PLANTS* will ship for $19.90 (The shipping may be more if you buy other things in addition to plants.)
For 9 or more PLANTS* or if ordering plants NOT marked with a *, we will contact you with a UPS shipping estimate.