Curry leaves is native to the Indian subcontinent and is often mixed with Helichrysum Italicum (which is also called curry plant in confusion). Its leaves are aromatic — sweet and pungent, which releases the mouthwatering fragrance and used in cooking. Keep reading this article to learn Growing Curry Leaves Plant!
Botanical Name: Murraya koenigii
Other Names: Curry tree, Curry leaves tree, Curry plant, Sweet neem, Meethi neem, Kadhi patta.
USDA Zones: 9-12
Best Varieties of Curry Leaves
Curry leaf plant comes in three distinct varieties with their own set of pros and cons – Regular, Dwarf, and Gamthi.
- Regular Curry Tree: It grows up very fast and reaches a height of 6-15 feet and a width of 4-12 feet. The leaves of this plant are commonly found in the grocery stores and the most widely cultivated out of the three available options.
- Dwarf Variety: Helichrysum angustifolium ‘Nana’ is a short version. It is an excellent choice for a houseplant or to grow in containers to decorate your patio that could also be placed indoors during winters.
- Gamthi: It is even smaller than the dwarf variety and reaches 6-8 inches in height on full maturity. Though it does not spread as quickly but makes up for it by producing the most fragrant leaves of all curry plants.
Curry Leaves Propagation
Propagate it from cuttings (suckers of the plant) or seeds — remove the hard outer shell before sowing for faster germination. Use fresh seeds for a high germination rate. Sow them in good quality potting soil.
If your temperature is not warm around 65 F (20 C), layer it with polyethylene or keep it in the greenhouse because the seeds germinate at warm temperatures.
Planting Curry Tree
Planting a Curry Tree in Warmer Regions
If you’re living in USDA Zone 9-11, grow it outside. Plant it in the sunniest spot in your garden, do regular watering in the next two months. Pinch off its white flowers in the first two years to appreciate healthy growth. Once settled, it’ll start to grow up quickly.
Planting a Curry Tree in Cooler areas
Gardeners below USDA Zone 9 or where winters are harsh should grow it in a container. Spring is the best season for planting. Plant this in a 5-gallon container and upgrade the size of it as the growth progresses.
It can tolerate mild freezing temperature but needs a lot of care in winter, in too much cold it shed its leaves and goes dormant until spring and start a new growth again.
Requirements for Growing Curry Leaves Plant
Native to India, the tree loves full sun and grows best in it. While the plant is in the growing stage, avoid exposing it to the harsh afternoon sun for a longer duration of time. Once established, you don’t have to worry much about it.
Curry leaves plant is not at all fussy when it comes to soil requirements and will flourish in any type of soil. For best growth, plant it in a well-draining and fertile medium.
While the plant is in the growing stage, you have to water it regularly. After 3-4 months, water only when the topsoil feels a bit dry to touch. Once the plant attains maturity, you don’t have to worry about watering much.
Curry Leaves Plant Care
In the beginning, it’s a slow grower and reaches a height of 6-10 inches in a year (depending on the climate and growing conditions), so give it its time to settle.
Curry leaves don’t require a regular dosage of fertilizer. Use nitrogen-rich fertilizer in a month or two to boost growth. Also, don’t fertilize in the dormant stage of the plant, which occurs in the winter in cooler areas.
Regular pruning or picking of leaves is essential to promote fresh foliage growth. Cut off dead leaves and branches from the curry leaf plant to maintain it.
Pests and Diseases
Though the scent of curry leaves repels various insects, there are many pests that can hinder the growth of the plant. These include scales, aphids, mealybugs, and psyllids.
The harvesting of curry leaves is easy and improves the future growth of the plant. Once it has grown you can pluck off the leaves. You can use these fresh aromatic leaves to flavor delicious stews and soups.
In the natural tropical conditions, the curry leaf plant is hardy when matured and doesn’t die even in the severest of conditions like drought, extreme temperatures, and infertile soil. Here are some additional tips for growing curry leaves.
- Don’t overwater it, especially in winter.
- Let the soil dry out during water spells as it likes well-drained dry soil.
- Plant it in a small container and then regularly update the size as the plant progress its growth.
- Place it (colder zones) indoors or in a greenhouse in winter.
- Use compost and good quality nitrogen-rich fertilizer for lush green foliage.
- Don’t plant it in the windy spot when the plant is young, as it grows upright and has weak limbs and trunk.
Uses of Curry Leaves
They are often used to add flavor to chutneys, rice, soups, stews, dals, curries, vegetable dishes, chicken dishes, and so much more. For best flavor, it is most suggested that curry leaves should be fried first in oil. Then, you can add the sauteed leaves to the dish while other ingredients are cooking for taste.
It also offers many health benefits, mainly because of its potent plant compounds.
- May Help Reduce the Risk factor for Heart Diseases
- Helpful to Control Blood Sugar Levels
- Contains Anti-Inflammatory Compounds
- Provides Anti-Bacterial Properties
- Helps in Relieving Pain
- Contains Neuroprotective Components