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Patchouli is a tropical perennial herb grown for its fragrant foliage. Its essential oils are used in perfumes and insect repellents. Grow patchouli in partial shade, and protect plants from cold temperatures. It is hardy in Zones 10-11 but can be grown as an annual in colder Zones. The plant thrives in hot, humid weather, and in midsummer it bears pale pink or white flowers.
Clip the flowers when they are in bloom, or harvest leaves throughout the summer. Bundle cut stems and hang in a warm, dry location. Remove dried leaves and store in an airtight container. Add the flowers to potpourris, or use the dried leaves to repel moths.
Though patchouli oil has many uses, patchouli is not eaten. Instead, it's often an ingredient in incense, insecticides, and perfumes.