Shrubs

Curry Plant Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Helichrysum Italicum”

Our Complete guide to Curry Plants for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Helichrysum Italicum”

Spring is here so it’s planting time! And what can be more suited for your plant family than a nice-looking shrubby companion? This plant is perfect for any type of gardener out there, no matter how much experience they have in the gardening world. And do not worry! We are here to make your journey an exciting and easier experience. Keep reading to find out more about the Curry plant and how you can give it the time of its life!

Helichrysum italicum, commonly known as the Curry plant, immortelle, or Italian strawflower, is a species of flowering plants in the Asteraceae family. This beauty grows mostly in dry, sandy, or rocky ground settings so it is native to several regions of the Mediterranean.

Curry plants are highly popular worldwide not only for their adorable bushy appearance but also their versatility and easy-going style. An interesting fact about these herbs is that they retain their vibrant color even after picking. Many people use them as cut flowers and they are one of our favorites for creating various dried flower arrangements.

These shrubs look absolutely gorgeous outdoors in beds and borders, prairie planting, gravel and rock gardens, or Mediterranean, city, cottage, and coastal gardens. Moreover, like most herbs, they make for superb potted plants in various indoor decorations.

About Curry Plants

  • Although named “Curry plants” and smelling similar to curry powder, the two have nothing else in common. These shrubs are not related to Curry trees nor with the well-known mixture of spices.
  • Curry plants have an intense fragrance that cannot go unnoticed. They play a big part in the perfume industry as fixatives, which prolong the retention of aroma on the skin.
  • A yellowish-red essential oil extracted from their flowers is very popular thanks to its unique perfume. Many described it as having a sweet scent that resembles honey.
  • These plants have many medicinal properties still appreciated in our days. They work well as an anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, moisturizer, fungicidal astringent, antibacterial, and antiseptic remedy.
  • In traditional medicine, people used Curry oil as a treatment for numerous problems including burned skin, wound healing, internal bleeding, fever, or coughing. Also, the flowers make for an excellent ingredient in herbal tea.
  • With these aromatic herbs, you can prepare various culinary recipes that contain rice, vegetables, fish, chicken, or beef. People used Curry essential oil in soft drinks, baked goodies, ice creams, sweets, and also chewing gum.
  • You can grow Curry plants safely around your curious pets and children. And, do not worry, your furry beloved ones won’t be attracted by their strong scent.
Flowering curry plant
Flowering curry plant

Curry Plants Features: An Overview

  • Curry plants belong to the Helichrysum genus that contains about 600 species of flowering plants. The species from this genus can be shrubs, annuals, or herbaceous perennials.
  • They are herbaceous shrubs with woody stems that can reach up to 2 feet (60 cm) in height. These perennials have a very-bushy overall appearance, growing up to 3 feet (91 cm) in width.
  • Their foliage consists of pointed lanceolate or needle-like leaves that look similar to those of Rosemary or Lavender. They can come in colors that range from silvery-gray to silvery-green.
  • In general, their blooming season lasts between late June to mid-September. In some regions, this period can be significantly shorter than usual.
  • Curry plants produce showy inflorescences that contain numerous tiny, sponge-like, and lemon yellow flowers. The cute and fragrant blossoms appear in dense clusters.
  • Once their blooming period has ended, fruits will develop where their flowers once were. They are achenes, having a nut-like shape and several brown, oval seeds.
  • Due to their lovely style, Curry plants can make for excellent companions to California Poppy, Coneflower, Creeping Thyme, Lavender Cotton, Lavender, Shasta Daisy, and Tickseed.

Growing Curry Plants

Like most shrubs, Curry plants prefer to grow in bright and direct light all-year-round. Make sure you keep your shrubs in a location where they can receive at least 6 hours of full sunlight daily. In indoor settings, east, west, or south-facing windows are the best options for these plants to thrive.

Curry plants do well in temperatures that range from 66 to 72 °F (19-22 °C) during the day and 62 to 64 °F (17-18 °C) at night. Although these bushes are hardy to temperatures down to 14 °F (-10 °C), they will not benefit from prolonged periods of frost. If you live in a region with harsh winters, grow your Curry plants in pots and bring them inside in autumn.

These shrubs are usually pest-free, but diseases like powdery mildew can affect them once in a while. This fungal disease appears as numerous white spots on stems and leaves. If you notice signs of infection, remove all the unhealthy parts right away. You can also treat your Curry plants with a spray mixture of water and potassium bicarbonate once a week.

Helichrysum Italicum
Helichrysum Italicum

Planting Curry Plants

Whether you grow your Curry plants in the garden or indoors pots, their soil type is essential for nice growth and blooming. Waterlogging is not an option for these shrubby friends, so you should plant them in soil that has excellent drainage. They prefer sandy soils, but you can also use loamy types and add a generous amount of sand to the mixture before planting.

Curry plants are pretty independent and do not require frequent fertilizing to thrive. However, if your babies grow in the same location for several years, you can spoil them every now and then! Feed your shrubs with a special herbal fertilizer or compost once every year right before their growing season in early spring.

If you want your Curry plants to have a certain size or shape, pruning is the key to success. Be careful, though, as low-quality pruners or too much pruning, in general, can damage these shrubs irreversibly. You can cut off spent flower buds to make room for new ones to emerge. Also, remove all the unhealthy, damaged, or dead stems to encourage new growth. Make sure you do not trim off more than half of the foliage in the process.

Watering Curry Plants

As with most Mediterranean species, Curry plants grow just fine in conditions of hot and dry climates. These shrubs are very tolerant of drought, making them perfect for any type of gardener, especially newbies. They can thrive without water for longer periods, but this does not mean that you should forget them for good!

In general, Curry plants require water only when the soil has dried out entirely. Make sure you always check the soil in-between waterings to avoid soggy conditions and over-watering. However, you must provide your thirsty shrubs with water more often than usual during very hot summer days.

Propagating Curry Plants

Want to have more of these bushy plants around to keep you company? Say no more! Curry plants are beginner-friendly and one of the easiest shrubs to propagate. And if you succeed on your first try, why not share these beauties with your family members or friends? When in doubt, just take a look at their stunning appearance and lovely flowers. Now let the worries behind and get to job, gardener!

You can propagate Curry plants through seeds or semi-hardwood cuttings. When using seeds, it is best to sow them in February or March before the next growing season. After collecting the seeds from the mother plants, sow them in fresh, well-draining potting soil. Provide with water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch and do not over-water.

Essential oil made with fresh blooming helichrysum italicum
Essential oil made with fresh blooming helichrysum italicum

In general, the seeds will germinate in 2-3 weeks if exposed to temperatures of 68 °F (20 °C). Because of this, you should place them in a greenhouse or any warm location indoors. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them in individual pots and keep them as warm as possible for at least a year. Once the last sign of frost has passed, bring them outdoors and plant them into their permanent spots.

If you want to propagate Curry plants through cuttings, you must use soft stems from the last growing season. Look for healthy stems and cut about 2 inches (5 cm) off them using a sharp, sterilized knife. Remove the bottom-half layer of leaves and dip the cut ends in rooting hormone for optimal results, but no more than a few minutes.

Fill a container or bed with a mixture of equal parts of perlite and pumice. Plant your cuttings in the substrate and place them in a well-lit location with some shade in the afternoon. Moreover, you should maintain the soil constantly damp to ensure root production. With proper care, you will have new baby Curry plants to transplant in individual pots after a month or so.

In Conclusion

If you like to grow interesting herbs, you must get your hands on some Curry plants. Besides their stunning and authentic look, these shrubbies are very easy to grow, care for, and even propagate. Also, their intense fragrance and aroma are a must-have in every collector’s garden. And, why not, a new ingredient in your kitchen to spice things up!

Are you growing Helichrysum Italicum? Share your experience in the comments below!

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

2 Comments

  1. Just purchased my 1st curry plant from a local greenhouse that has been operated by the same owners for 62 years. They are in their 80’s now. They always have the best cared for plants. Having no one to carry on the business, they will soon close due to health issues. Please support your local growers. We need their legacy of species & expertise.
    Excellent read! Thank you for giving me exactly what I was searching for in an enjoyable format.

  2. Hello – very useful article on Helichrysum Italicum, thank you.

    My own curry plant has collapsed in the middle and all the foliage is now away from the centre (it’s now in its second year). Any ideas as to how I can solve this?

    Many thanks!!

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