The sandalwood tree can grow in almost any part of India (which
is why any Indian will recognize the fragrant wood, even though
they might refer to sandalwood by one of its many aliases.) The
sandalwood tree flourishes in regions where the climate is cool
with moderate rainfall, plentiful sunshine and long periods of dry
Planting your own Sandalwood Tree
The sandalwood is a root parasite so you have to provide other
plants for it to grow along with, especially by the time it is 8"
high, Alternatively, when you plant the sandalwood seed, also throw
in some toor dal or butterfly seeds.
Plant the sandalwood seed ¾" to 1" below the soil and water it
lightly everyday. If you don't have access to a strip of soil, you
can plant the seed in a soil bed or a pot, or recycle a milk-bag by
punching holes in it, adding soil and turning it into a tiny
planter. You can move it to a larger bag or a larger pot as
required, and gift the sapling to someone else if you run out of
Mix red earth, farmyard manure (cattle manure) and sand in a
ratio of 2:1:1 i.e 2 parts of red earth, 1 part of manure and 1
part of sand. Silt also provides very good nourishment to plants.
The seeds will start sprouting only in 4 to 8 weeks so don't stop
watering if you don't see results - and don't over water, because
that certainly won't hasten the process! The soil should always be
moist, never water logged, so after it has sprouted, water it only
on alternate days.
Eventually, if you have no place to transfer the plant to, you
can keep the sandalwood tree in a large container (cement chilla
/pot/etc) in your balcony or terrace, strip compound.
When your saplings are about one month old, transplanting them
to a larger area will give them a much higher chance to survive and
Clear an area for planting and dig a pit about 30cm3 in size.
Plant the sandalwood seedlings along with the host seedlings - keep
a distance of 2.5 to 4m between two sandalwood plants. Usually,
sandalwood is transplanted in the months between May and
To prevent contamination of local varieties, plant these seeds
only in urban areas, not in protected forest areas.
Just like human babies, your sandalwood saplings will need most
care in the first year, and will be increasingly independent in
following years. You will need to weed around the plants and work
the soil for the first year, and, if necessary, in the second year
too. In case the host plants outgrow the sandalwood seedlings, tip
them a little to provide enough light to the seedlings. If any
climbers surround your seedling, cut and remove them.
Sandal trees grow mainly on red ferregenuous loam, overlying
metamorphic rocks, chiefly gneiss. They can tolerate shallow, rocky
ground and stony or gravelly soils, voiding saline or calcareous
soils, and are not exacting about the depth of the soil.
Rich and moist soils such as well-drained alluvial soils, do not
support sandalwood well; the heartwood in such trees will be
deficient in oil. Trees grown on poor soils yield better oil,
though they cannot withstand water-logging.
The roots of sandalwood saplings attach themselves to the root
of the host plant with the help of haustoria. There are also
instances of sandal thriving off other sandal trees too.
Sandalwood grows well with hosts such as Acacia, Albizzia,
Bombusa, Cassia, Erythrina, Erythroxylon, Gossypium, Pongamia,
Semecarpus, Strychnos, Tectona, Thespesia, Vitex and Zocypus in
natural forest Spike disease has been reported to be transmitted
form hosts, such as Lantana, Acanthaclous Ocimum Dedroclamus,
Dodonea, Vinca and Eucalyptus.
The tree flourishes best between altitudes of 600 and 1050 m,
though it may go up to 1350 m and descend as low as 360m. The
important sandal tracts lie in places where rainfall varies from
In general, the sandal tree flourishes in regions where the
climate is cool with moderate rainfall, plentiful sunshine and long
periods of dry weather. The ideal temperature for its growth is
between 12° and 30°C.