Curry plant (Helichrysum italicum) is a delightful and fragrant herb plant. Curry plant is native to Turkey and thrives on sunny slopes where it attracts beneficial insects to its unusual flowers. Curry plant looks very similar to a lavender in its leaf stage.
Seeds sow in February/March in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 3 weeks at 20°C. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Take stem cuttings in spring or fall.
Curry plant is an evergreen subshrub with thin silver-grey leaves and small yellow flowers. In the garden it is used as an edging plant but can be grown in containers as a focal plant in a group of herbs. The leaves and flowers are intensely aromatic and give off the smell of curry when brushed against. The whole plant smells of curry, especially after rain.
Some people recommend it is used as flavoring but this is not really a good idea as the plant is not connected with curry in the true sense of the word and if consumed sometimes causes an adverse reaction. The flowers can be cut and dried for use in flower arranging or used in pot pourri. The leaves can be used fresh or dried to give a subtle seasoning to soups or stews. An essential oil (from the leaves) is used as a flavoring to enhance fruit flavors in sweets, ice cream, baked goods, soft drinks and chewing gum.
Curry plant prefers to be planted in full sun in a sheltered area of the garden. Not suitable for growing indoors, but can be grown in pots outdoors. It has to be grown in well-drained soil so it requires little water if grown in a container over winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.