Ask the Plant Doctor! How to deal with non-aromatic pandan leaves

Pandan plants prefer consistently moist soil, but do not tolerate waterlogged conditions. Photo:

Do you have a question about plants or how to maintain your garden? Send your questions to the Plant Doctor! Email your questions to with "Plant Doctor" in the subject field. Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Q I took some pandanus saplings from my friend whose pandan shrubs at his backyard sent out a strong aroma, but after my saplings settled in my house and matured over the years, they did not have any fragrance at all. What went wrong? My friend does not take care of his pandan patch, but the leaves thrive, and the fragrance can be smelled from the front gate! – Margaret S.

The aromatic quality of pandan is due to the presence of essential oils and aromatic compounds within the plant. One key component responsible for the characteristic fragrance of pandan leaves is a compound called 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline (2-AP).

The production of 2-AP and other aromatic compounds in pandan leaves is influenced by various factors, including environmental conditions and soil nutrition.

Consequently, if the conditions in your location differ significantly from where the saplings were originally grown, this could affect their development and aromatic qualities.

For instance, less sunlight or lower temperatures (perhaps because of shading) could affect a plant’s ability to produce the compounds responsible for its fragrance.

Soil quality and nutrition also play a significant role. Even though your friend might not actively care for his pandan patch, the soil in his garden could be naturally rich in certain nutrients essential for the plant’s aromatic properties.

It is worth testing your soil and comparing it with that of your friend’s garden.

The balance of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, along with trace minerals, can influence plant health and characteristics.

Both overwatering and underwatering can induce stress in plants, potentially affecting their ability to produce aromatic compounds.

Pandan prefers consistently moist soil, but does not tolerate waterlogged conditions.

A very common error among gardeners is to err on the side of overwatering rather than underwatering.

Additionally, signs of pests or diseases should be checked. Stress from these factors can divert the plant’s energy from the production of aromatic compounds to defense mechanisms.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In Living

How you perceive stressful situations could help minimise their health impact
The climate crisis is here. Why do so many continue to ignore it?
Batteries in electric cars: Does it makes sense to rent or swap them?
How mauve and black are back in style, with a twist
What's in a leap year? Eternal youth, wedding bells and tech bugs
Why this US soccer program is a hit with children with disabilities
How Paris' grittiest suburb awaits Olympics dividend
Dating: When’s the best time to make a move?
The true cost of food would be very different if environment costs were reflected
7 tips on how to keep indoor plants healthy

Others Also Read