White licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare) is an indigenous plant to Africa but is now found growing wild along the central coast of California. It is a tender herbaceous perennial that is usually grown as an annual because it is killed by frost. White licorice is hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11. It can grow to about 1 1/2 feet high by 3 feet wide and often requires trimming back to prevent it from becoming scraggly. It has silver-grey, aromatic foliage and 1 1/2 to 2 inch wide white flowers which appear in mid-summer. White licorice can easily be propagated by seed.
Pour a good quality seed-starting potting mix into a germinating tray or into individual planting packs until it's within 1/2 inch from the top. Tamp down the seed-starting mix using the base of a glass, a spoon or your fingers.
Place the germinating tray or planting packs into a watering tray or shallow basin. Pour in enough water to let the germinating media soak up the water until it is saturated. Let the germinating tray or planting packs drain before proceeding.
Create shallow 1/8-inch deep rows in the germinating tray using the long side of a 12-inch ruler, or any object which can create a straight line. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch up a small amount of the white licorice seeds and sprinkle them down each of the shallow rows. Try and plant about two to three white licorice seeds every 1/2 inch. Place three to four of the white licorice seeds into each of the cells if using planting packs. The seeds of white licorice are small, so you might want to use a pair of tweezers if you experience problems spreading the seeds.
Press the white licorice seeds into the surface of the germinating media using the blunt end of a pencil, a spoon or the 12-inch ruler.
Place the planting packs or germinating tray where there is about 8 to 10 hours of indirect light every day and where the temperature will stay right around 60 to 70 degrees F. Keep the germinating media moist, not sodden wet. Mist the germinating media with water as needed. At the above conditions, white licorice seeds should begin sprouting between seven and 14 days.
Thin down the white licorice seedlings once they each have a set of leaves. If using a germinating tray, snip the scragglier seedlings off at the soil line leaving approximately one white licorice seedling for every 1 inch. If using planting packs, snip off at the soil line in each cell the least hardy appearing seedlings leaving one white licorice seedling per individual planting cell.
Water the white licorice seedlings only after the soil has been allowed to dry out a little. Once the seedlings have grown to about 1 1/2 inches tall if using a germinating tray, or about 2 to 3 inches tall if using planting packs, you can transplant them into baskets, tubs or into the ground.
Things You Will Need
- White licorice seeds
- Germinating tray or planting packs
- Seed-starting mix
- Watering tray or basin
- 12-inch ruler
- Pencil or spoon
- Sprayer bottle
- To make your own germinating media mix together 2 parts loam, 1 part perlite and 1 part fine sand.
- Plant on starting white licorice indoors about 12 weeks before spring.
- According to Michigan State University, white licorice plants like prefer being grown in full-sun to partial-shade in soil that is sandy and fast draining.
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