Acorus calamus or Ratroot, Vacha, Bach, Vekhand belongs to the family Acoraceae and is said to have originated in India. The plant dates back to the Bible era where it was used in the holy anointing oil. It is often considered a symbol of love and affection.
It has sword-shaped yellowish green leaves which emit a sweet smell especially when crushed and a cylindrical spadix which is filled with greenish flowers.
Vekhand can easily grow in soils with high moisture content. It is also a great addition to a water garden.
The plant prefers direct sunlight so plant it in a sunny area where it will receive a lot of light throughout the day. However in really hot summers, a few hours of shade would be a good idea.
The flowers are quite negligible. The main attraction is the leaves and the rhizome. The rhizome of the plant can be harvested in late winter or early summer. Harvest after 1-2 years of plant growth when the rhizome has grown large and firm. Don't cut the leaves during the early growth period as that may stunt the growth of the plant.
Vekhand grows the best in slouchy soil so water the plant frequently. The plant is almost aquatic and prefers stagnant water. It cannot stand drought. Keep the soil filled with at least 6-7 inches of water.
It can grow in shallow waters or boggy soil. The plant requires a lot of moisture. Other than that it can survive in sandy, loamy or clayey soil. Organic matter mixed with the soil would be good.
The average height of the plant ranges from 2 to 3 feet.
They spread around 2 feet in the ground cover.
You can use the NPK 19:19:19 fertilizer mixed with water (1gm/1 liter) once a month.
They do not have any major pest issues. The plants can sometimes suffer from leaf spots but that will not affect their yield. Also they can dry if the soil does not have enough moisture.
The medicinal benefits of Verkhand have been known to man since the earliest civilizations. Almost all parts of the plant have insecticidal properties. The oil can be used to cure gastritis.
Dried rhizome is used as an infusion to treat chronic diarrhea, throat infections, foul breath, insecticidal worms, bites of poisonous reptiles etc.