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How to Grow a Curry Plant

curry image by Sebastian from

The curry plant is a member of the large Helichrysum genus, which also includes strawflowers and other plants that are often dried for flower arrangements. Native to Africa, Eurasia, Australasia, Turkey and Madagascar, the Helichrysums range from tender annuals to hardy shrubs. The curry plant, Helichrysum italicum, looks a little like lavender, except it grows small yellow flowers. It favors warm, dry growing conditions with poor to average soil. The foliage is used sparingly in cooking to simulate the flavor of curry powder, which is a combination of herbs and spices.

Fill nursery pots or flats with standard potting soil and then water until water comes out the drainage holes.

Broadcast curry plant seeds on the soil surface, but do not cover them with additional potting soil, because these seeds require light to germinate. Set the pots or flats in a sunny area that is protected from frost and keep the soil surface moist by watering daily.

Transplant the young curry plant or plants to a sunny outdoor location about one month after the final spring frost. Sandy or poor soil is acceptable for the curry plant--you needn’t add compost or other soil amendments. Dig planting holes slightly larger than your plants’ root systems and 8 to 12 inches apart. Set your plants into the holes, fill with additional soil and water well.

Water the curry plant during extended dry periods, but it is drought tolerant, so avoid giving it excessive water.

Fertilize your curry plant with a balanced fertilizer, such as one having an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 about one month after you plant it. If you want your plant to bloom profusely, fertilize it with a low nitrogen or “blossom booster” plant food (0-10-10) when you first begin to see flowers forming.


If you start your curry plants in pots, you can get a head start on the summer growing season if you begin about two months before your final spring frost. You can keep your pots outdoors in the daytime and move them indoors at night to ensure the seeds receive adequate sunlight. You can also grow the curry plant in a pot--use standard potting soil, make sure your container has a drainage hole, and keep it in a sunny spot. To make more plants, take cuttings of the curry plant in summer. You can also let the plant flower and form seeds, which will drop to the ground and result in more plants the following summer. Harvest leaves as you need them. Pull or cut the entire plant off at ground level before your first fall frost--this plant dries well in a warm, dark, dry, well-ventilated place.

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