Gardening on a Budget, Thrifty Asian

Striking betel leaf cuttings

It’s lunar new year this weekend and one of my favourite snacks to eat from the street-festival vendors is bò lá lốt, beef wrapped in betel leaves. I’ve recreated it at home, using Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen’s recipe (via Secrets of the Red Lantern). Nguyen and Jensen use pork mince and pork fat to enhance the flavour, but Luke Nguyen also has a pork-free version up on the SBS website.

Because betel leaf is a such rare commodity in Melbourne, I’ve struck my own with the stalks leftover from cooking. It’s taken three months, but my sole surviving betel leaf cutting is finally producing it’s first big leaves:

My very own betel leaf plant. Totally FTW.

To strike betel leaf cuttings, choose stems with nodes. Prepare the stem by stripping all or most of the leaves and then cut at an angle 1-2cm below the node. Nick the stem a little at the cut to increase the stem’s ability to absorb water.

Place stems in a glass part-filled with water and let them sit in a warm spot.

It will take weeks, but eventually roots will start to form.

Once you see the roots, pot the stems in worm castings and help them settle in with some diluted Seasol. Place them in a warm but shaded spot (I left mine behind some big pots in the courtyard) and water daily.

3 thoughts on “Striking betel leaf cuttings

  1. Could you please tell me where to get the bêtel leaves. I’m fro melbourne, and have striped ere very Asian grocery store, yet still could not find it.

  2. Greetings Fellow Betel Leaf enthusiasts 🙂
    I too am attempting to strike some cuttings this spring/summer. I have read so many variations on method and live in a Victorian rural region so I am going to try the water and soil methods with some cuttings and see which work and profile times.

    I looked online to source a more established plant, and plenty of online nurseries advertised them, but when I went in to order they were all listed as ‘currently unavailable’ – so what’s a girl to do?

    I had to go to South Melbourne the other weekend and so I stopped by the Asian Groceries there and grabbed two packets of Betel Leaves as they had good long stems of about 10-14 cm on them.

    Also in the past I have sourced great bunches of them from the asian grocers on Victoria Street, Richmond which is also great for green and purple Perilla Salad herbs and other beauties that you just will never get at ‘Mr Coles, Mr Safeway and Mr Aldi’ LOL!

    Apparently you can grow them from seed, but the word is in Tropical Australia, the minute they touch soil they sprout in the lovely warmth and humidity, so if you were driving back from QLD you may be able to bring one home as a travel momento even :).

    Good Luck and best wishes everyone having a go at growing their own, a great outcome is so rewarding when we put in the time and patience.


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