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tips on growing curry plant...

Posted by nkt38238 Z9 CA (My Page) on
Thu, Nov 18, 04 at 19:32


I recently barked upon a project to grow South Asian Indian Curry plant. I did not know much about how to grow it, so I started searching web for information. I could not find any one place that provided this information.

Anyway, after searching for many email threads on this site and others, I found some information. I've decided to complile my findings and share with others. Feel free to add other tips if you think they may be useful to others.

Few things I noted during my research:

+ if you try to grow plant from curry plant seed, it helps if you have seed first put in moist paper towel for several days before putting them in soil.
+ Remove hard shell to expose the seed before planting, it may help germinate quicker.

+ Do not saw seeds too deep in soil. SuperSoil soil (sold at home depot) works very well.

+ I read that it works if seeds are picked and then saw'ed as soon as possible. The seeds should not be too old.

+ Curry plants florishes well in temperature around/above 65 degree temp.

+ Small curry plants do not do well in direct sun light during hot summer weather and don't do well if soil is too wet. Th soil needs to be well-drained soil. Also, let soil dry a bit between watering cycles.

+ During cold winter nights, bring [young] plants inside house and at least cover the pot with shade to avoid night frost which definitely kills them.

+ Leave small curry plants in the same pot for about an year (or about 4-5" tall) before transplanting it into a bigger pot.

+ It's very critical that curry plant roots are not disturbed. The best way to transplant is to move the plant with root around soil into a new/bigger pot.

+ Potted plant requires regular fertilizer, at least during spring/summer time. MicacleGrow fertilizer works fine as well. Do not give strong doze of fertilizer to young plant.

+ Plants can be grown either seeds or from suckers around an adult tree.

+ Have a look at this URl which provide some more information:
+ Lastly, I heard that there are 3 varaiety of curry plants. Have a look at this website:

Hope this helps.

Does anyone have curry plant/seeds for "Gamthi" variety to share?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

  • Posted by Eggo z10soCal LBC (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 28, 04 at 17:18

thanks for the info. I have mine planted directly in the ground, oddly enough I have never seen any suckers maybe due to the reason that it was started from seed. I think it may be a regular one, just due to its size and bronze leaf color. it seems quite hardy in my zone, much neglected by me.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Did you see anything about what to do when the middle part of the plant starts to turn brown and shrivel? I have one in a pot and two in the ground by it. The potted one is fine, one in the ground is okay, but the other seems to have new dark green shoots deep inside the plant, brown shriveled on the stem, and normal-looking leaves at the tip. ??????

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Hi Lhbham,

Curiuos about the region of US you live in.

Sorry, I can't offer any suggestion as I have not seen this problem w/ my few curry plants. How big is your plant (size, age-wise)? Make sure you don't overwater/overfertilize the plant.

The fertilizer-wise, I've found that general purpose Miracle Grow works fine. Lately, I've switched over to highly recommended Eleanor's VF-11 Plant Food (look up the site on the web). It's organic and seems to provide better balance of nutrients. Good luck.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Very interesting but:

There is no such thing as "curry plant".
Curry actually is a blended seasoning made up of about half a dozen spices. AS I have also learned from my internet search, curry , in Indian language means "sauce". Just as a salad can be made of various ingridients, curry also can be made up from vaious spices. The main ingredients in Curry (powder, seasoning) are turmeric, ginger, anise, pepper, Coriander and few other.

What is called and sold as "Curry Plant" is not even edible and it is used mainly in potpories and wreaths just for its smell.
To sum up, the so-called "curry plant" has no colinary use and it is not edible. It is also proned to various diseases. I am so sorry that I learned all these after I paying $4.00 for one and planted it in my herb garden. Tomorrow, I am going to dig it up , put it back in the pot and return it to the nursery that sold it to me, among other herbs, with the impression that it is an herb. A herb has to have some colinary usage.
Curry plant has no culinary use..

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

You are mistaken, cyrus_gardner. It is true that the Curry plant a.k.a. helichrysum cannot be used for cooking. nkt38238 is referring to Murraya koenigii, which is also often referring to as the Curry-plant but more often referred to as the Curry-leaf plant or Curry-leaf tree.

Here is a link that might be useful: What nkt38238 is talking about

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

OK! "curry plant" and "curry leaf plant" are two different things. I know that "curry leaf plant" is edible and the word "leaf" should not be omitted. The whole name of "curry" is confusing if not misleading. As I said, "curry" is a spice mix that can be made many different ways, and not from a single plant or source.


RE: tips on growing curry plant...

The Curry Tree (Murraya koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae, which is native to India. It produces the leaves known as Curry leaves or Sweet Neem leaves. Karivepillai in Tamil means black neem as the appearance of the leaves look similar to the neem leaves. The leaves are highly valued as seasoning in South Indian and Sri Lankan cooking, much like bay leaves and especially in curries with fish or coconut milk. Although most commonly used in curries, leaves from the Curry Tree can be used in many other dishes to add spice.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

I have a 2 1/2 foot tall regular curry tree (Murraya Koenigii) that a generous Indian friend of mine gave to me 3 years ago. When she gave it to me it was a 5 inch seedling when she gave it to me. She mentioned that I would have to chop off the main trunk at some point but I've been afraid to do that as I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do and also don't know where to cut it. It now seems too tall and spindly as it doesn't have any secondary branches other than the trunk. Can anyone give advice on how to prune so that it will form branches with bark.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

I like in PA USA, currently weather is cold, I have my curry plant pot inside, in fall it lots all leaves. Now it has main trunk. Its all brown, looks like its dried! I have been watering it regularly. Do you think it will have brances or leaves in spring/summer when weather gets better. And if some has seeds or baby plant, are you willing to send it to me. I would really appreciate it. Thank You

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Hi Ketiki,

I am in Northern CA. Even here, the most of the leaves of curry plant are shed during winter and it has to be put under the shade (to avoid frost). So, I would expect your plant to shade all leaves during winter. No worries, the leaves start coming back as soon as spring hits the road (just about now here!). Do not over water curry plant, but keep watering at regular schedule even during winter (although not as much as during summer and don't let soil completely dry up).

If your curry plant's branches are completely brown (and dry to bend), it might have died. You will just have to wait for summer/spring and watch. Even during winter, try to give it as much as sun as possible (e.g. keep near the window,etc.).

If you can get Alfalfa pallet (for Nitrogen) in your area, buy them (pet store usually carry them) and mix them up in soil. They are good organic option for fertilizer (actually, w/ it miracle grow will work better too). If you enjoy listening to garden show on radio, google "Bob Tanem" to listen to his past shows (mp3) or show on Saturdays.


RE: tips on growing curry plant...


If you're still looking for answer....if the plant is mature enough (4-5 years at least and tall (4-5 feet), you can cut off the shoot(s) coming out from very top. The best time to do would be just when spring is around the corner.

I'd beg to differ with Bruce's following statement:

"The leaves are highly valued as seasoning in South Indian and Sri Lankan cooking, much like bay leaves..."

Actually, it's used throughout India (North to South) and Sri Lanka in many forms of curries.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

To cyrus_gardner
"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!" In your internet searches you will find many experts who do not know what they are talking about. I always verify from several sources.
It is totally wrong to suggest that the Curry plant, "Helichrysum italicum", is inedible. It loses its strong flavour when cooked, so, it is best used RAW and very finely chopped, to add it's wonderful sweet curry aroma as a seasoning to salads, eggs dishes, meat dishes, yoghurt, fish dishes, or flavouring vinegar, cream cheeses, etc etc.
It is also a handy plant in keeping cats and deer away (so plant it near your roses, deer hate it!), and of course it looks really nice in the garden and in floral arrangements.
*** Do not dig it up and take it back to the shop! Rather go back to the shop and educate them a little. They will then sell loads more Curry plants, why?, because, the Curry plant attracts butterflies and other very useful insects (including wasps) which help you get rid of the other "pest" insects. Wasps, for example eat, aphids and caterpillars etc. (Note If wasps disturb your summer BBQs you can keep them away from your outside dining area very simply, as follows: Take a large 1.5 litre plastic coke bottle. Cut the top 1/3rd off and place it cap end down inside the bottle, but, smear a little jam around the neck first. Make a hole in each side and tie it in place with kitchen string. Make sure there are not gaps. Your bottle trap will be filled with the enticing sweet smell of jam. Now smear a little jam way down inside the opening, or drop some pieces of apple inside. Now half fill the bottle with water and a very little vinegar. Make a loop with string and then hang it up about head high in a tree a few meters away from your BBQ area. It might take a day or two, but it will soon start to fill up with wasps, flies, mosquitoes, hornets etc which are attracted by the jam, crawl down inside and then are unable to get out again. Just make sure that the water level comes to within 2 or 3 inches of the inverted bottle neck. This limits the space in which they can fly. You'll be amazed how effective this is and you'll be able to eat outside in relative peace and quiet.) I was worried that it might trap bees as well, but happily this has not been an issue.
Back to the Curry plant, which should not be confused with "Murraya koenigii", the Curry tree and it's spicy citrus flavoured leaves, which are widely used for cooking in the Far East.
As you correctly pointed out Curry is in fact the Tamil word for sauce. There are many different blends used for various dishes in the many regions of India. It is easy and fun, to obtain all the herbs and spices necessary to make up your own batch of curry powders, or Red or Green chilli pastes used in Thailand and all around the Far East.
Don't trust what you read on the net. Always triple check with other sources and then you reduce the chances of getting bad information. Happy gardening

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

I am shocked at the ignorance of the non-Asians about whether a curry tree is edible or not, or whether it is real! How embarrassing? I have been growing this bush-tree for over fifteen years, in Texas and Puerto Rico. Once established, it is a very hardy tree; but it needs warmth! If you are lucky enough to get a tree started, and it's really not very hard from seed, you will have one of the best kept culinary miracles of the world, on the same level as basil and oregano! My wife is from Sri Lanka, and we use the leaves on and in everything: rice, eggs, curry...if you have any questions about this tree, I guess I am really kind of of an expert; I have three really big ones in the yard, and yes, I do get lots of seeds from time-to-time.

Frank :)

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Hi Frank,
I purchased my Curry plant at a garden show, really just because of it's wonderful smell. On doing a little research I discovered that it works very nicely in various dishes such as salads, or eggs, or fish, but loses it's powerful aroma if cooked. The recommendation is to chop it up finely, as you would with parsley and add it to the dish like you would add salt or pepper.
It is very nice indeed! I also have a ready supply of frozen Curry leaves (from the other tree!!!), which I use regularly in my Asian preparations. It's strong lemony scent is superb!
Like yourself, I find it quite amazing and frustrating that some people present themselves as experts on a given subject and then proceed to write utter rubbish, demonstrating that they know nothing at all.
The Internet can be a valuable resource for researching all sorts of things, BUT, check and re-check because there are plenty of so called experts out there!
Thank you for your post anyway and Happy Gardening!

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

All great information... A few points. Both the Curry Plant and the Curry tree are real and edible. I have grown and eaten both. Also Curry not sure which has many medicinal values, including an anti-inflammatory.

My question is what is the best way to germinate the Curry Plant seed.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

I've had my murraya koenigii for a little while and it's a fascinating little tree. here are some observations:

the compound leaves stay green and viable only if the petioles are attached to still green growing tips of the branch. so always start harvesting the lower leaves first!

the petioles don't branch (because they are functionally just a few large compound leaves!) and can be removed freely without affect tree structure, but there is a lot of natural beautiful branching at the flowering tips, so don't mess with them too much!

the little tree can growing into a beautiful mature tree of 12-20 feet. ***Importantly if you want a full size tree; only head the main leader when it reaches a foot or two above where you want the lowest permanent branch to be (probably minimum of about 4-5 feet). of the branches that will grow that will grow beneath the severed head; the strongest two will be selected to be main leader and first branch respectively.

if you want a dwarf or bush, head it at 2 feet as mine was (which will never be able to reach full size). using the same strategy of eventually selecting only two branches to use as leader and first permanent branch, this will probably make a tree of only 6 to 7 feet max.

neat little tree; definitely recommend to everyone to give one a try!

This post was edited by farm96744 on Sun, Mar 16, 14 at 20:36

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

hi farm, thanks for the details on the curry leaf (murraya koenigii) plant. Could you please post some pictures.


RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Curry leaf plants in my backyard. I live in San Bernardino, California.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Upper leaves: The petioles are connected to the green part of the branch tips and are still viable;

Lower leaves:
once the green branch turns woody the attached petioles and leaflets will deteriorate.

This post was edited by farm96744 on Tue, Mar 18, 14 at 22:21

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

The flowering tips are where the natural branching occurs; so don't pinch them off. These two clusters/branches arose from one flowering tip.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Radial branches will arise if you head the plant. The stoutest widest angled lowest branch will be your first option for a lowest permanent branch. While the trunk will thicken over time, it will not grow much taller to the point of this branch. The most verticle stoutest highest branch will be selected as the new leader (trunk). All other branches will have to eventually be removed to prevent steal.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

It will eventually look very similar to this beautiful little tree; once all but two of the radial branches are removed.

To get a tighter looking tree, select the lowest branch to be more vertical-arising instead of one at a broader angle.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Thanks again Farm, you have a nice looking tree.

I wish I can grow curry leaf plant in ground in Dallas like yours but with the Dallas weather I can only afford to grow them in containers.

Weather is getting better here, i moved most of my curry leaf, Jasmine and couple more tropical plants from garage to outside. Will take some pictures tomorrow and post them.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

I have some curry trees in pots. Here in Tampa they grow very well into small 6 or 7 foot trees/shrubs. Could someone please provide reicpes? I would like to start with simple curry rice.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

@Fruits: Can't wait to see your plants. I'm planning on growing out a couple of my upcoming seedlings (hopefully) into braided topiary style trees.

@Shuffles: They are used as little leaf crispies. Fry them up in a little oil or butter until crispy and then use as garnish. Spiking fried coconut shrimp (yes the frozen kind will work just fine) with plenty curry leaf crispies will make them the best shrimp you will ever eat (this is a riff on the much harder to make but crazy delicious cereal/butter prawns recipe)

This post was edited by farm96744 on Thu, Mar 20, 14 at 1:43

RE: tips on growing curry plant...


here are the pictures of my curry leaf plants, it took a while.

Plant # 1 - I pruned this last year and after pruning it only got 2 branches and had grown to 4 feet. Plant in between is a sucker. I need to prune this plant to look like a tree, I would appreciate your suggestions to prune this plant

 photo IMG_3734_zps5d414c48.jpg

Plant # 2 - I got this plant from a friend 2 years back, last year it had several suckers and some of them had grown bigger than the parent plant. I'm planning to separate the suckers and also need to prune all of them.

 photo IMG_3732_zpsdf9e7f75.jpg

Plant # 3 - This is my other curry leaf plant, i pruned this last year and it got 3 branches, two of them grown big but the other one remained short, I need to prune this as well to look like a tree. This had 2 suckers last year, i plan to separate them as well.

 photo IMG_3733_zps5dd98737.jpg

This post was edited by Fruits.Veggies on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 13:43

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

@Fruits: Nice plants!

The first one has some nice potential actually.

Would suggest to head the thicker left branch first at maybe 3 feet+ or so from soil level (hard to gauge the actual height from the photo).

remove the middle branch altogether but be careful to leave a collar and not cut directly into the Y.

Leave the right branch to grow.

By summer's end you should have some nice radial branches from the headed left branch. And next spring, you can remove the right branch altogether since it won't be needed anymore. By the spring after you can remove all the radial branches from the headed left branch except for two (remember choose the most vertical highest arising one as the leader, and the lowest widest angled to be the branch).

And you'll have a great tree!

The last tree is a little less easy to do. If you want a tree shape, you'll have to remove the low branch/sucker even though it is growing the best since it is diverting away from the two taller branches, and then pick one to head to use for the radial branches.

And as far as the pot of little rooted? suckers, if I had those, I would definitely try to do a braided tree!

Good luck!

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Thanks farm,

Sure, I'll prune my curry leaf plants as per your suggestion.

Regarding braided tree, do I need to remove the suckers and plant them in a new pot and braid them? in the current pot the suckers are all over the place and in varying sizes. What would ideal number of plants for braiding, 2 or 3


RE: tips on growing curry plant...

@Fruits: Yep. This is a youtube video on braided hibiscus from rooted cuttings that uses 4 strands:‎
And this is a two stranded braided bay leaf tree:

I think the curry leaf has several really unique things going for it for braiding; it has mostly top only growth, and the stems are nice and thin and pliable and mature to a nice color.

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

@Fruits: by the way, do you know which variety you have? some of your leaves are keeping green on the woody portions and the numerous suckers makes me think it is a different variety from mine. Probably the dwarf according to bhatia. The gamthi is interesting; I take it to either mean gujerati and/or villagers/heirloom. I've come across research papers from india that found different compositions in the northern and southern varieties, so the differences are probably significant.

This post was edited by farm96744 on Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 16:28

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

@farm, thanks for the braiding links, it is really interesting and informative. Nursery folks deserve appreciation, it takes lot of hard work and time to grow braided hibiscus or for that matter any braided plant.

Regarding my curry leaf plants, all the three seems to be different varieties and I got them from 3 different friends who had curry leaf plants for the last 8-10 years.

Below plant numberings are based on my earlier postings.

Plant # 1 - leaves are large and dark green and petiole bulky area that attaches to the branches are reddish.

Plant # 2 - leaves are regular green and entire petiole is green as well

Plant # 3 - average size leaves with light red tone and the petioles are also reddish. As per my understanding this variety is prefered in western part of Tamil Nadu, a state in South India. It is called in Tamil as 'Senkaambu' curry leaf - meaning curry leaf with reddish (sen) petiole (Kaambu). Green ones are called as Patchai kaambu, meaning curry leaf with green (Patchai) petiole (kaambu). I circled them in blue color in these two photos, not sure whether it is clear. May be you need to download the photos to have a closer look.

I refer this below plant as Plant # 1

 photo IMG_3734-1_zps136e3939.jpg

I refer this below plant as Plant # 3
 photo IMG_3733-1_zpsdb36b09e.jpg

Surprisingly I couldn't find more details online differentiating curry leaf plant varieties by their petiole color.

Comparatively second and third plants get lot of suckers than the first one and another thing I observed is that only third plant had flowers last year.

This post was edited by Fruits.Veggies on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 10:33

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

@Fruits: thanks for the very interesting and useful information. wow. very very interesting. many people here go with bhatia nursery's classification since they've been selling these plants on the mainland for a number of years now. here is their page:

as you can see, what they are calling gamthi and regular (corresponding to your trees number 1 and 3) have red petioles while the dwarf (your tree number 2) has green petioles.

here in hawaii, curry leaves were/are grown commercially for indian restaurants on the mainland, so pretty sure mine is the regular (your tree number 1 or 3) especially since it has red petioles.
Do the trees smell any different? Is the Gamthi the "best" (tree number 1 or 3; likely number 3) as it is reputed to be?

This post was edited by farm96744 on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 4:29

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

Thanks farm, I updated my earlier posting for 'petiole' :-)

I never gave much thought about curry leaf plants earlier, even though I had grown up eating foods flavoured with curry leaves pretty much everyday. This forum in general and this topic in particular has sparked interest to do more research on curry leaf plants.

I remember almost everyone in my village back in India preferring to use/plant curry leaf with red petiole inspite of having green petiole curry plant in their backyard, not sure whether it was for smell or looks, may be it is time for me to get in touch with folks back home :-)

I went thru bhatia nursery website and it seems my plant # 3 is gamthi variety as per bhatia nursery's classification. I could map Plant # 1 to 'Regular' and
Plant # 2 to 'Dwarf' varieties respectively but not 100% sure.

Btw, my plant # 3 looks almost similar to your curry leaf plant, which is in this posting "Posted by farm96744 none (My Page) on Tue, Mar 18, 14 at 22:25".

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

@Fruits: :) same here. Reminds me of that Bon Jovi song ... who says you can't go home (apropos since Jersey now has a large desi population!)

I'm pretty sure our trees here in Hawaii are all regular Senkaambu and not Gamthi though since they were all grown for the restaurant industry, and fast growing is important to the commercial producers.

The problem with regular is that while the aroma is great when they are still fresh; being so thin and delicate, the leaves really can't seem to stand up to frying to make leaf crispies. After less than a minute, the leaves turn bright yellow and bland (only a faint citrus aroma remains). When I was a kid in Southeast Asia, the leaf crispies definitely retained the dark green color and deep aroma. Maybe I'm frying them wrong somehow, but the thinness of the regular leaves is definitely working against me.

So if your tree number 3 is most like mine; your tree number 1 may in fact be the slow-growing Senkaambu Gamthi variety. If so, take care with the pruning. Be sure to fertilize the plant well (I'm using dyna pro foliage which is really really good), and I wouldn't really harvest from the remaining branch so that it has a chance to regenerate.

Please share if you find out more and I'll certainly do the same!

This post was edited by farm96744 on Tue, Apr 1, 14 at 1:39

RE: tips on growing curry plant...

  • Posted by xman 7/8 (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 11:53


My curry leaf tree, it is over 14 years old, it was about 5 inches tall when I got it now over 8 feet tall. Has been growing in containers and moved into the garage every winter. Root pruned and re-potted every 2 years. Currently in a 35 gallon container. Fertilized with just compost and compost tree. I had pruned the branches over the years to get it to be more open have a nice branching structure.

 photo Curry1_zps60eeb027.jpg

 photo Curry2_zps6a3d0605.jpg

 photo Curry3_zps5180bc49.jpg


RE: tips on growing curry plant...

  • Posted by xman 7/8 (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 14:46

sorry, I meant fertilized with just compost and compost tea...not compost tree :)

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