The white licorice plant is a small, compact, evergreen shrub. Its stature earns it the category of "sub-shrub." Its scientific name is Helichrysum petiolare, and it is also known as Helichrysum petiolatum. According to the USDA, the plant's origin is in the United States, and it is native to the lower 48 states. White licorice is grown for distribution in California.
The white licorice plant is classified as a small shrub, and grows very close to the ground. A typical white licorice measures 9 inches tall and 3 feet wide. White licorice is a trailing plant that sends out runners of growth. The plants leaves are grayish-green, oval and hairy. Small, dull white flowers are produced during the spring.
White licorice prefers well-drained soil. If the soil is water-retaining or clay-like, there is a risk of the plant succumbing to root rot. The addition of gardening sand, peat moss, perlite or pine wood chips mixed in with the existing soil improves its drain rate and makes it more conducive to supporting white licorice successfully.
White licorice plants prefer moist soil, but cannot tolerate wet, water-logged soil. The plant does tolerate drought, so underwatering is better than overwatering. The plant requires additional water when the top 2 inches of soil feels dry to the touch.
The white licorice requires full or partial sun each day. Ideally, the plant should receive at least six hours of full sun exposure each day, but it requires at least three. Typically, the southern and western sides of a home have the best sun exposure.
With its trailing behavior, white licorice lends itself to use as ground cover or in hanging baskets. In the garden, white licorice is used as ground cover to fill in open areas around taller plants. Hanging baskets of white licorice develop cascading growth, with its runners falling over the sides of the container.