Are you wondering how to grow curry leaf tree at home? Did you know growing Curry leaf plant at home means you will have an endless supply of fresh curry leaves on hand? If yes is your answer, find out this full guide that will help you grow curry leaf tree at home.
Curry leaves are widely popular in India and Sri Lanka and are used to give an aromatic flavor to the cuisine. The aromatic scent and the citrusy fragrance of curry leaves add a subtle flavor to soups, Indian curries, and chutney.
Curry leaf tree is a tropical plant native to India and Sri Lanka. Botanically known as Murraya koenigii, Curry leaf had a recent name change to Bergera koenigii.
Curry leaves are an essential ingredient in many Asian countries like Thailand, India, etc. It can also be used as an ornamental plant due to its glossy bush-like foliage that stands out in the garden.
So growing a curry leaf plant is rewarding as it has both culinary and Ayurvedic benefits. The curry leaf features tubular white flowers during summer, which are incredibly robust with citrus-like fragrance.
If you live in moderate and temperate zones, you can grow curry leaf plant in a container and outdoors at certain times of the year.
Curry leaf plants require low maintenance and are easy to care for. So in this article, let’s find out how to grow curry leaf plant and how to care in detail.
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All About Curry Leaf
The Curry leaf plant, also known as Murraya Koenigii, comes from the Rutaceae family. So don’t confuse between a culinary herb and the so-called ornamental curry plant, Helichrysum italicum, a small grey leaf perennial in the daisy family.
It might smell like curry, but it’s not used in cooking. The leaves of this ornamental plant have an intense scent that looks appealing with its yellow flowers in the garden, but it’s not edible.
Both Murraya koenigii and Helichrysum italicum are not used in making spice blends like curry powder. Curry leaves are not even an ingredient used in curry leaf powder.
So basically, curry powder is a mix of bold and delicate spices like ginger, turmeric, and coriander seeds.
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Do you know curry leaves are also called curry leaf tree, sweet neem, curry tree, or Kadi Patta? Curry leaves can grow up to 20 ft tall, and their trunk grows up to 16 inches.
It is usually cultivated in smaller units. There are three different varieties of curry leaf plants – Regular, Dwarf, and Miniature.
Curry leaf is an edible herb that features silky white flowers in early summer, and the flowers grow into jet shiny black fruits during July and August.
Though one should avoid using the seeds as it’s poisonous. The berries of the curry leaf plant are used for Ayurvedic, Unani, and homeopathy medicine.
Curry leaves are primarily valued for their aromatic and medicinal benefits in most South Asian countries. It is primarily cultivated in Sri Lanka, the Pacific Islands, and other parts of Southeast Asia these days.
Varieties of Curry Leaf
There are three varieties of curry leaf plants, namely Regular, Dwarf, and Miniature. These are commonly referred to as ” morphotypes with different sizes.
1. Regular Curry Leaf Plant
A regular curry leaf plant is also known as a large or standard leaf plant commonly cultivated for commercial production.
It is characterized by its fast growth and tall leaves widely available in grocery stores and supermarkets. Moreover, they can be grown outdoors all year round.
2. Dwarf Curry Leaf Plant
The Dwarf variety curry leaf plant doesn’t grow tall as the regular ones. But the leaves are longer and slightly lighter in color than those of full-size plants.
They tend to grow from 12 – 24 inches tall and 12 inches wide at maturity. The dwarf curry leaf plant is an ideal indoor house plant during winters. Dwarf varieties are best planted in containers as they spread out quickly when planted in the garden.
3. Miniature Curry leaf Plant
Commonly known as the Gamthi variety, this miniature curry leaf plant is slow-growing among the other varieties. It has thick leaves and produces the most fragrant scent among all the curry leaf plants.
Ideally, it can be used as a flavourful herb for cooking. It grows about 6 – 8 inches tall at maturity. Moreover, it can be grown indoors in cooler regions.
These are some of the curry leaf plant varieties that can be grown. You can choose according to the place you have in your home or where you want to grow. If you want to grow curry leaf plant, follow the below guide.
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How to Grow Curry Leaf
There are two ways to grow curry leaf plants. Either cuttings or seeds will help you to grow curry leaf plant.
Murraya koenigii is usually propagated by root cuttings. But you can use fresh seeds for high germination.
So, without further adieu, have a look at both the methods that will help you to grow curry leaf plant with ease.
Method 1. Grow Curry Leaf Plant from Cuttings
To grow curry leaf plant from cuttings, cut a 3-6 inch piece of healthy stem from a well-established plant that has at least three sets of leaves. Clip the branch close to the main stem and cut the base at a 45 – degree angle.
Remove the bottom part of the leaves and plant the stem deep into the soil. Carefully push the cutting into the hole and gently firm it. It’s best to dip the bottom in rooting hormone powder.
You can use a container with a soilless potting mixture. Also, you can use a biodegradable container that is easy to transplant.
So place the biodegradable container in an area that gets indirect sunlight. Then poke a hole into the potting mixture and insert the cut end of the stem.
Keep the potting mixture damp and place it under indirect sunlight for at least six hours per day. You have to mist the cuttings every day until the roots have been established.
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After three weeks, your curry leaf plant is ready to transplant. If you have warm temperatures and you plan to move your tree outdoors. First, harden the rooted cutting by gradually introducing the plant to the sunlight and wind.
On the first day, give your plant an hour of sun. Then the next day increases the time your plants spend outside and so on in the coming days. After a week, your plant is ready to go in its permanent place, which can be either a container or aground.
Regular curry leaf plants reach up to 6-15 ft tall maturity with a 4 – 8 foot spread. You can space them apart at 4 – 5 feet to keep the distance away from other plants.
If you plan to keep your plants indoors, select an area that gets direct sunlight for at least 5 hours a day. Don’t just put it into the spot right away. Slowly increase the period for your plant to spend under the direct sunlight and acclimate your cuttings to these bright conditions.
This way you can grow curry leaf plant by using the cuttings from a mature tree. If you fancy growing curry leaf plants from seeds, then follow the below method that will help you do so.
Method 2. Grow Curry Leaf Plant from Seeds
You can grow curry leaf plants by seed. You need to know that it takes almost 1 – 2 years for the seedlings to become established. You need to purchase fresh, dried seeds for a faster germination process. Then remove the outer shell by rubbing the seeds between your hands.
If this doesn’t work, you can put the seeds in the plastic bag and roll a rolling pin over them. If you are using fresh berries, soak them to extract the seed inside for a whole day. After soaking, rub off the flesh and the pulp surrounding the seed area.
To sow the seeds in the container indoors, sow them in a potting soil mixture, cover the container with plastic, and poke the holes in the soil to retain its moisture. Seeds at least need a soil temperature of about 68°F to germinate.
Read our super easy guide for how to prepare soil for planting.
You can also use a heat mat for the faster germination process since the germination rate of curry leaf plant seeds is usually low. You can plant several seeds per tray to improve the chances of a healthy plant.
Make sure you plant your standard plant a few distances away from any structures. Moreover, keep the soil moist until the seedlings have emerged. When your seedlings have emerged thin, then out to one seedling per cell and sow directly into the ground outdoors above 65° F temperature.
When your plant is about six months old, it’s time to start pruning. Make sure to pinch back and prune two or three branches to encourage enormous growth.
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Growing Tips for Curry Leaf
Here are some growing tips for the curry leaf plant. Following these tips will help you to grow curry leaf plant healthy.
- Growing a curry leaf plant requires 4- 6 hours of direct sunlight to thrive. If you live in a colder region or grow your curry leaf plant in a container, make sure to place it under direct sunlight.
- The curry leaf tree is a subtropical herb, and it prefers warmth and heat. However, it would help not expose your plants to excessive heat below 40°F.
- Curry leaf plants need loose, well-drained soil to grow. So it is always recommended to use soil with a pH level of 5.6 – 6.0 and is slightly acidic.
- So make sure to add well-rotted manure or compost to the soil to get enough nutrients. These nutrients, such as nitrogen, will encourage the leafy growth of the curry leaf plant.
- Curry leaf plants are prone to iron deficiency. Suppose you notice any leaves turning yellow with dark green veins. Make sure you add two tbsp of 20 per cent iron sulfate to the soil once or twice a year.
- Fertilize your plants during summer with liquid fish fertilizer every four to six weeks to boost enough nutrients to the plants.
- Water once a week regularly and sincerely when the topsoil feels dry to touch. Avoid watering too much and never let that plant sit in the soggy soil for too long.
- Once the curry leaf plants have been established, it is more likely to survive in drier conditions. So if you live in a windy area, you might prevent your plant from bending or breaking in strong gusty winds.
- Select a stake that is twice taller than the bush at its mature height. Then gently place it six inches away from the stem of the plant.
- To provide enough stability, you need to insert one-third of the stake into the soil firmly. Adjust the stake positions gently and avoid damaging the roots.
- Plants leaves fall off and turn yellow during the winters, so this doesn’t mean the plant is dying. But just that it’s going dormant; if this happens, the leaves will re-emerge during spring. You can use a tie or loop tap and hook to stake with the twine in several places for stability.
- To prevent root rot, you need to reduce the irrigation in the soil. Moreover, when the temperature increases, you can place the plant indoors to prevent the yellowing of the leaves.
- Pruning is an excellent way of encouraging bushier growth. Pruning helps the plant maintain its health and increase the harvest. So you should prune the plant once a year during spring if you want to control the plant’s size.
Curry leaf plants are self-fertile, and if you plan to harvest the leaves pinch off the buds that form on the plant. You can also snip off the flowers before they become fully mature fruits. You can use them medicinally or save seeds for planting.
These are all the tips to curry leaf plant growing tips. Following all these tips will ensure a healthy and bushier curry leaf plant at your home.
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How to Care for Curry Leaf Plant
Curry leaf plants require low maintenance. However, young plants take 2 years to become fully established. Here are a few tips to take care of curry leaf plants.
- Make sure your pots have ample drainage to drain the excess water.
- Keep your younger curry leaf plants out of direct sunlight, especially during hot summer.
- Prune back your curry leaves to encourage leaf growth during spring.
- Harvesting earlier will help in producing plant leaves as much as possible.
- Pinch the tip of the branches of the young plants to encourage leaf production and multiple branches.
- Plucking off the flowers right off the branches will help in leaf production.
- Shift your mature young plant to a large container. When you notice the root coming out of the drainage holes.
- Ensure you take care of the transplant process without disturbing the root system.
- Bring your curry leaf plants indoors during winter dormancy.
- Feed when you are growing the Gamthi variety plant feed your plant with a light fertilizer weekly during summer.
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How to Harvest Curry Leaf
After your curry leaf plant has become fully established, the harvesting period starts from year five. And so on it gradually increases each year.
For standard variety, it takes 2 years to reach harvesting at this point as the plant reaches a matured height of about 6 ft tall.
For Dwarf and Miniature (Gamthi), it takes more time than standard variety to reach a harvestable size of their half of the mature height. There are two methods of harvesting curry leaves:
The first method is to pluck leaves as you need them or take a larger harvest two or three times a year. Harvesting allows you to promote bushier growth. Thus, it leads to harvesting the plants regularly.
The second method of harvesting is cutting off the branches every two months during the growing season. New growth will continue to pop up as long as you don’t take more than half of the leaves at a time.
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How to Preserve Curry Leaves
You can preserve the curry leaves in the refrigerator for about two weeks in a sealed bag. Then wash them until just before use.
Moreover, you can freeze the curry leaves, but they lose their color and flavor.
Another way to preserve the curry leaves is to remove the stems by washing and drying the leaves. Then toss them in oil until they are lightly coated. Please place them in a resealable plastic bag, Press out the air and freeze for up to six months.
You can also place the leaves in a food dehydrator. They will be kept in a dark sealed container for up to a year.
How to Use Curry Leaves in your Food
Curry leaves have a robust flavor when used as fresh. Due to its citrusy and aromatic flavor, curry leaves are used in south Indian cooking, such as Daals, Soups, Chutneys, and Stews.
It is an essential ingredient in many curry dishes, especially in India, Thailand, and other South Asian countries.
It is similar to bay leaves, where you can steep in the food as it’s cooking and fish it out. Another option of using curry leaves is to dry them and crush them. Please store them in a jar in the dark and take them out when in use.
Grow Curry Leaf Plant in your Home Garden
If you are interested in growing a healthy herb, you can grow curry leaf plant in your garden. The pungent aroma of the curry leaf plants helps eliminate the pests and diseases away from the plants.
These steps offer you the ultimate way of growing curry leaf plants at home and how to take care of them.
So, would you grow curry leaf plant at home? Do you think that we have covered almost everything that you would need to grow curry leaf plant? If not, do let us know what did we missed and we will try to update our article.
How do I make curry leaf plant grow faster?
Put 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt 1-liter water and put it in curry leaf plant. Do it every 3 months.
Which fertilizer should I use in the curry leaf plant?
Use liquid fish fertilizer once a month from March to October.
When should I water the curry leaf plant?
Once every 3 to 4 weeks is fine or when the soil is totally dry. Make sure you do not overwater your curry leaf plant.