By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Gardening offers an opportunity for people to grow a variety of plants that they can enjoy looking at, eat, and even earn from. One example of a plant that’s eye-catching, edible, and has a good potential for income is the blue ternate.
Blue ternate (Clitoria ternatea), also known as Asian pigeonwings, is native to tropical areas in Asia and is a perennial vine that flowers all year-round, producing delicate deep-blue blooms.
Although grown as an ornamental plant by some, the blue ternate is edible. Its seeds are safe to consume when tender and its petals are used to make blue tea or as an edible garnish.
It also has various recorded health benefits such as being a memory enhancer, antistress, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, and is a tranquilizing and sedative agent.
The unique plant is among the bestsellers of a Tarlac-based urban garden, Lush Herbs and More, which aims to provide its community with quality herbs and plants.
Joshua Bondoc, the urban garden’s head of marketing communications, said that the plant is popular not only because of its striking blue-colored flowers but also because of its versatility and how it can be incorporated into many culinary dishes, baked goods and beverage concoctions.
Growing blue ternate from seeds
To grow blue ternate from seeds, Bondoc shares a few tips.
First, he advises to nick or file the seeds, then soak them overnight in room temperature water before planting. A healthy seed should be dark brown or black.
Afterwards, place two or three ternate seeds in a five-inch container full of potting soil and cover with about an inch of soil. Place the container in a shaded area and water every morning and evening.
The seeds will germinate in one to two weeks and should be ready to transplant within 30-45 days after germination.
Maintaining the plant
When the germinated seeds are transplanted into a more suitable container, the maintenance part of the plant begins to make sure that it grows to its full potential.
“Blue Ternate enjoys full sun and moist soil for vital growth. This plant tends to get leggy quickly, so pinch the growing tips often to induce bushiness. Fertilize by feeding organic matter weekly,” Bondoc said.
Pinching or removing flowers during the plant’s early stages will help keep the vine from growing lanky and prevent it from going into the seed production phase too soon, thus helping it focus on growing more.
He added that blue ternate plants should be provided with support or trellises for the vines to climb onto.
Earning from blue ternate
One of the most popular ways to earn from blue ternate is by processing it into tea. To make blue tea, Bondoc said that either fresh or dried flowers can be used.
“If you are using fresh flowers, add fully washed flowers to hot water and cover the surface to retain heat. Allow the tea to seep a few minutes until the water turns a deep shade of blue,” he said.
Other ingredients such as cinnamon, ginger, lemongrass, and honey can be infused into the brew to enhance its flavor and even add to the health benefits that it already possesses.
To make dried blue ternate flowers, which can then be sold for consumers to store and use at a later date, spread it on a clean plate and just air dry it near a window for a few days until crisp. Store in a dry and clean container for future use.
Lush Herbs and More sells blue ternate for P80.
Growing blue ternate has various advantages. Aside from its noted health benefits, the edible plant is also pleasing to look at and it can also be used in a number of dishes. But most importantly, growing blue ternate can also open opportunities for gardeners to earn from what they grow.