Do you like the smell of curry, the classic seasoning of Indian cuisine?
If so, you should think about growing curry plant (Helichrysum italicum). Its fragrance is identical to that of curry seasoning.
However, before you start using it in your favorite Indian dishes, be advised that curry seasoning itself does not come from curry plant!
The curry seasoning of Indian cuisine is actually a mixture of several spices. Its principal ingredient comes from leaves of the tropical curry tree (Murraya koenigii), a citrus relative, which may be propagated from seed in frost-protected areas. You can find curry tree foliage and fruit (which contains the seeds) at Asian markets.
The wiry gray foliage of curry plant — as opposed to curry tree — will remind you of lavender, although the two have no botanical relationship. Curry plant is a member of the daisy family, but you probably will not recognize this when you see its flowers.
They are petite and look more like buttons or pompons than the classic discs and rays of larger daisy species. By the way, the highly pungent leaves of curry plant may be used, in sprig-by- sprig quantities, for subtle flavoring of soups, salads and poultry.
In addition to curry plant, there are several Helichrysums worth cultivating. All are suitable for easy-care and water-thrifty gardens. Most prominent among these would be the strawflower (Helichrysum bracteatum), notable for its 2-inch everlasting flowers that appear over a period of many months in white, yellow, gold, orange, pink, lavender or bronze.
When planted in well-drained soil, this species is famous for producing ever-renewable crops of seedlings and flowers through self-sowing.
If you want to have fun making a container garden, you will definitely want to play with licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare).
Its small, gray, heart-shaped leaves spill out of pots or over garden walls with child-like glee. `Select Form’ is a licorice plant cultivar available from San Marcos Growers that develops into a robust shrub, 4 to 6 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide.
`Limelight’ licorice plant, suitable either for containers or as a ground cover, has distinctive, iridescent chartreuse foliage and a trailing growth habit.
Two plants that used to be classified as helichrysums — but have recently received new botanical names — are hardy perennials that can handle a mild freeze (down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit) without a problem.
The first is Ozothamnus diosmifolius `Pink,’ another 4- to 6-foot shrub, which shows pink and white flower clusters throughout the year. The second is Plecostachys serpyllifolia, a demure and decorous mound that flowers in pink throughout summer and fall. Both of these plants are also available through San Marcos Growers, who do not sell to the general public, but supply nurseries throughout the Valley. Upon request, most local nurseries should be able to supply you with the above

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