Curry Plants are hardy to USDA zones 7-10. It is a shrub that can grow up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The plant should be grown in full sunlight and in an area that is sheltered from wind or wetness. Curry plant grows best in sandy or loamy soils that are well-drained. The pH level of the soil can range from alkaline to neutral (1). The plant should be watered sparingly and does not require mulch. It is a natural repellent toward deer and other pests.
The seeds of a curry plant need to be planted in February or March. After 2-3 weeks, the seeds should be placed into pots and grown in a greenhouse for the rest of winter. Since they are frost tender, they should be transplanted outside in late spring or early summer (2). In spring, the curry plant should be pruned down to the old wood. Doing so will preserve the shape of the plant and encourage growth. In late fall, the curry plant should be cut down to 3 inches since it will go dormant. It can be propagated from 2-inch cuttings of an established plant.Since the plant requires low levels of watering, it is perfect for xeriscaping, a landscaping technique for conserving water (1).
The curry plant is well-known for the oil extracted from its flowers. The oil has medicinal properties that can heal burned skin or chapped lips. It serves as an anti-inflammatory and fungicidal astringent for skin (2). It is an anticoagulant that can help thin the blood and decrease the risk of heart attacks for those who have high cholesterol levels. The oil can act as a catalyst to stimulate enzymes in the body which dissolve blood clots that form from internal hemorrhaging. It can also treat symptoms like coughing and fever. Oil form the curry plant can be utilized for aromatherapy to reduce anxiety and stress. It is often applied to skin as a moisturizer or to help fade scars. Since the oil has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, the oil can also be applied to cuts or wounds (4). Flowers from the curry plant can be used to make herbal tea. The plant’s leaves can be freshly plucked and added to salads. The essential oil extracted from the plant has been used in making ice creams, sweets, baked goods, soft drinks, and chewing gum in order to enhance fruit flavors(2).
Significance to Cultural Communities
The curry plant is native to the Mediterranean region. The plant’s young shoots and leaves are used in Mediterranean dishes to give meat, fish, or vegetable flavor (3). Recently in Britain, people started to add the plant’s leaves to dishes for flavoring (5). The essential oil extracted from the curry plants is used in perfumes. The plant has also been used in making potpourris and wreaths due to its strong aroma (2).
- "Helichrysum italicum." Plants for a Future. Plants for a Future, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014. <http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Helichrysum+italicum>.
- "Curry Plant." Folia. Nic & Nath, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://myfolia.com/plants/111-curry-plant-helichrysum-italicum>.
- "Helichrysum Italicum." Encyclopedia of Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014. <http://eol.org/pages/6230897/details>.
- "Health Benefits of Helichrysum Essential Oil." Organic Facts. Organic Information Services Pvt Lt, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-helichrysum-essential-oil.html>.
- Eland, Sue C. "Rubus idaeus." Plant Biographies. N.p., 2008. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://www.plantlives.com/docs/H/Helichrysum_serotinum.pdf>.