- Ylang Ylang trees originate and thrive in tropical climates like the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
- They grow best in zones 9-11 and need full sun (6-8 hours daily) and acidic to neutral soil.
- Ylang Ylang can also be cultivated in containers or conservatories in temperate climates.
- The trees can reach 10-12 meters in height under ideal conditions.
- Other areas where Ylang Ylang is grown include Madagascar, Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and the Comoros islands.
The sweet, floral scent of Ylang Ylang essential oil is unmistakable in many perfumes, soaps, and other beauty products. But where does this iconic tree actually grow? Ylang Ylang trees originate in tropical Asia and are best suited to warm, sunny climates.
This article will provide a comprehensive guide to where Ylang Ylang thrives, including its native habitat, ideal growing zones, soil preferences, and cultivation in temperate climates. With key facts and considerations covered, readers will gain valuable insight into the conditions needed for successful Ylang Ylang cultivation.
Understanding where Ylang Ylang grows helps appreciate why its essential oil commands such high demand. The information here will enable gardeners, farmers, and businesses to make informed decisions regarding growing or sourcing this highly sought-after plant. Read on to become an expert on Ylang Ylang’s native home and how to create an optimal environment anywhere in the world.
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Where Ylang Ylang Grows Natively
Ylang Ylang trees originate and grow natively in tropical locations within Southeast Asia.
The conditions found in this region suit the Ylang Ylang perfectly. Let’s look at some of the countries that serve as its native habitat:
The Philippines offers ideal growing conditions for Ylang Ylang trees. Temperatures stay consistently warm throughout the year, providing the heat Ylang Ylang needs. The Philippines also receives abundant rainfall, especially during monsoon season. Ylang Ylang thrives in moist soil.
The hot, humid climate of Malaysia also suits Ylang Ylang trees perfectly. Malaysia’s tropical environment includes year-round high temperatures and heavy rainfall.
Indonesia shares a similar tropical climate to Malaysia and the Philippines. Temperatures average around 80°F to 90°F year-round while humidity stays high. These steamy conditions allow Ylang Ylang trees to flourish.
Within these Southeast Asian countries, Ylang Ylang trees grow freely in the wild. But they are also widely cultivated on plantations to meet demand for Ylang Ylang essential oil. The conditions found in its native lands provide the ideal environment for Ylang Ylang to grow successfully.
Ideal Conditions for Growing Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang thrives when provided with the right cultivation environment. Gardeners and farmers in both tropical and temperate locations can support healthy Ylang Ylang growth by providing the following conditions:
Ylang Ylang needs abundant sunlight to grow. The trees should receive at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun daily. Partial shade can cause reduced flowering and oil production.
Select planting spots that receive sunlight for the majority of the day, such as along the south side of a structure. Ylang Ylang grows best with no shade competing for sunlight during the brightest parts of the day.
Ylang Ylang thrives in locations with warm temperatures all year long. Daytime highs around 80°F to 90°F suit the tree best. Nighttime lows should stay above 65°F.
The tree can tolerate short periods of cooler weather but may drop leaves or enter dormancy in prolonged cold. Protect young trees from frost or freezing.
Moist, Well-Draining Soil
Ylang Ylang needs soil that retains moisture but also drains well. Loamy, sandy, or clay-based soils amended with compost work great.
The soil pH should range from slightly acidic to neutral, around 6.1 to 7.0. Avoid planting Ylang Ylang in very alkaline or saline soils.
Water young trees regularly to keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Mature Ylang Ylang can withstand short periods of drought.
While Ylang Ylang trees grow quite tall, they have relatively fragile branches and shallow roots. Protect young trees from strong winds, which can damage branches or topple the tree.
Plant Ylang Ylang in sheltered areas or provide a windbreak using taller plantings. Stake young trees to stabilize root development during their first 2 to 3 years of growth.
With those ideal conditions met, Ylang Ylang will flourish. Gardeners in tropical climates will find it easy to provide the right environment. But it’s also possible for temperate location gardeners to create the right microclimate for Ylang Ylang.
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Growing Ylang Ylang in Temperate Locations
Gardeners in temperate climates with cold winters can still cultivate Ylang Ylang trees. But they will need to create greenhouse or conservatory conditions. Here are two options:
Growing in Containers
Plant Ylang Ylang in large containers that can be moved indoors or into greenhouses during cold weather. Use wheels under containers for easy mobility.
Select fast-draining potting soil suited for container growth. Fertilize regularly and water to maintain evenly moist soil. Moving the pots into sunlight and out of the cold seasonally will help the trees thrive.
Cultivating in Greenhouses
A heated greenhouse also provides the right microclimate for growing Ylang Ylang. Keep daytime temperatures around 80°F and no lower than 65°F at night.
Plant in beds enriched with compost and keep soil consistently moist. Ventilate the greenhouse during warm sunny days but keep it sealed at night and when temperatures drop.
With either approach, gardeners in temperate climates can reap the rewards of growing this beautiful, fragrant tree.
Where Ylang Ylang is Cultivated Commercially
Beyond Southeast Asia, Ylang Ylang trees are commercially grown in tropical locations around the world. The essential oil and blossoms are exported globally from these countries:
Madagascar has a warm, tropical climate perfect for cultivating Ylang Ylang. Ylang Ylang was introduced to Madagascar in the early 20th century. It quickly took hold and is still grown extensively for export.
The scattered island nations of Polynesia have subtropical climates supporting abundant Ylang Ylang growth. Tahiti and nearby Pacific islands produce high quality Ylang Ylang essential oil.
Melanesia and Micronesia
Countries within these regions such as the Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia also grow Ylang Ylang commercially. Their tropical climate and fertile soil help Ylang Ylang thrive.
This volcanic island nation off Africa’s east coast produces Ylang Ylang for both local use and export. Its tropical environment suits large scale Ylang Ylang cultivation.
From these far-flung locations, Ylang Ylang essential oil and flowers make their way around the world. They satisfy demand from perfume makers, natural health companies, and more.
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Maximizing Growth and Yield
Once established, Ylang Ylang trees can grow up to 10 meters or over 30 feet tall under ideal conditions. But gardeners will need to nurture trees through each phase of growth to maximize size, flowering, and essential oil production. Follow these tips:
- Fertilize young trees monthly with a balanced 10-10-10 formula or compost to encourage strong roots and branches.
- Prune trees minimally, only to shape or remove damaged branches. Ylang Ylang produces flowers on both old and new wood.
- Water generously during flowering periods to enrich essential oil quantity and quality.
- Harvest flowers around midday when oil concentration peaks. Distill flowers immediately after harvesting.
- Let trees rest after heavy flowering before the next harvest. Nutrient reserves need time to recover.
With attentive care and perfect growing conditions, Ylang Ylang will reach its full potential for both visual appeal and oil production.
Choosing the Right Ylang Ylang Variety
Several varieties of Ylang Ylang trees exist, but not all are equally suited to essential oil production. The most common are:
- Ylang Ylang Extra: The best variety for essential oil, with large, aromatic yellow flowers. Slow growing but highest yield.
- Ylang Ylang 1: Very fragrant, pale yellow flowers. Moderate growth rate and oil yield.
- Ylang Ylang 2: Fast growing with greenish-yellow flowers. Lower oil yield and aroma.
- Ylang Ylang 3: The most vigorous variety but with smaller, less fragrant flowers. Only suitable for perfumes.
For essential oil production, Ylang Ylang Extra is by far the best variety, followed by Ylang Ylang 1. Their slower growth is offset by higher flower and oil quality. Seek out reputable suppliers that can provide genetically verified clones or seeds of these premium varieties.
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Growing Ylang Ylang in the United States
Gardeners in the warmest parts of the continental U.S. can cultivate Ylang Ylang outdoors with care. Zones 9-11 in states like Florida, Texas, and parts of California provide sufficiently warm climates.
Provide the ideal conditions outlined above. Plant in zones 9 or 10 for outdoor growth during the warm season. In zone 11, Ylang Ylang can remain outdoors year-round. In cooler zones, grow Ylang Ylang in greenhouses or containers that can be moved indoors seasonally.
With global importation possible, gardeners everywhere can enjoy Ylang Ylang flowers and oil regardless of climate. But flowering and growth will be greatest when trees are grown in their ideal tropical environment.
Ylang Ylang is a tropical tree requiring full sun, warm temperatures, moist soil, and shelter from wind in order to thrive. Native conditions in Southeast Asia offer the perfect habitat. But Ylang Ylang can fruit successfully in suitable microclimates anywhere from Madagascar to Micronesia to backyard conservatories.
Gardeners and farmers now have a detailed guide to where Ylang Ylang grows best and how to cultivate it successfully. With this knowledge, it’s possible to replicate the warm, lush environment that allows this highly valued tree to reach its full potential for beauty and aromatherapy use.
Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang is an exotic tropical tree coveted for its sweet floral scent and essential oil. If you’re considering growing it, you likely have some questions. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about successfully cultivating Ylang Ylang.
How fast does Ylang Ylang grow?
The growth rate depends on the variety. Ylang Ylang Extra is the slowest growing, while Ylang Ylang III is the most vigorous. In ideal conditions, seedlings grow around 0.5-1 meter per year and reach maturity in 4 to 6 years. Mature trees can reach 10-15 meters tall.
Does Ylang Ylang require a lot of maintenance?
Ylang Ylang trees are relatively low maintenance once established. Annual pruning to shape and fertilizing in early spring are sufficient. Water regularly while flowering and harvest flowers by hand when blooms are at their peak.
What spacing is best for planting Ylang Ylang?
Space trees around 3-4 meters apart to allow good airflow and sunlight penetration. Closer spacing can work but requires more frequent pruning and thinning.
How long do Ylang Ylang trees live?
With proper care, Ylang Ylang trees can remain productive for over 100 years. The oldest trees reported are around 200 to 300 years old but slow down flowering after their first century of growth.
Can Ylang Ylang tolerate any cold?
Brief exposure to temperatures as low as 50°F is tolerated once established. But prolonged cold below 65°F or any frost can damage the tree. Young trees need protection from cold.
What pests or diseases affect Ylang Ylang trees?
Ylang Ylang trees are prone to root rot if overwatered, but otherwise have few serious pest or disease problems. Occasional issues include leaf spot, scale insects, mites, and cankers.
How is Ylang Ylang propagated?
Ylang Ylang can be grown from seeds, but cuttings from mature trees are preferred. Cuttings retain desired flowering and oil characteristics. Grafting onto seedling rootstock is also sometimes used.
With its sweet floral fragrance and medicinal qualities, Ylang Ylang is a joy to grow. Following the tips provided here will help you succeed in cultivating this beautiful and aromatic tropical tree.