How to grow a sandalwood tree

The fragrant sandalwood is a root hemiparasitic tree, a plant that requires the presence of another to provide nitrogen to its roots. This tropical tree is also a valuable fragrance source for the cosmetics industry. Its scented oil goes in soaps and perfumes, and the wood is ground for incense or used whole for carvings and furniture. You'll find various sandalwood species native to different warm areas, such as Indonesia and Hawaii. Climate should be your first consideration before planting a sandalwood.

Grow sandalwood where you can provide the tree with 12 hours of sunlight, and temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius year-round. Sandalwood also does better in dry rather than humid weather.

Select a planting site with a blend of loam and sand that drains well. Dig a hole about a foot deep, and fill it with water. If the liquid disappears underground within 24 hours, the area offers adequate drainage.

Plant 6-month-old acacia trees in the same lot along the area that is to become rows of sandalwood trees. Space them 7 feet apart. The sandalwood attaches its roots to the acacias' root systems for a mineral source. Cultivate the acacia trees until they're 1 to 2 years old, keeping the surrounding area free of weeds, before sowing sandalwood seeds.

Sow two sandalwood seeds 1 foot away from every other acacia tree. Bury the seeds 3/4 inches deep. They will germinate in one to two months. Thin the saplings to one for every two acacias.

Irrigate the sandalwood seeds at planting, and continue to keep the soil moist to a depth of 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Established sandalwood trees require little water. In the wild, they receive 1 to 12 inches of rain a year, depending on where they're growing.

Raise the sandalwood trees in a weed-free environment their first two years to allow them to fully develop without having to compete for nutrients.

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