Curry Leaves Plant Care

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Curry leaves plant zoomed in

To successfully grow a curry leaf plant, give it full sun, well draining acidic soil, water when top of the soil is completely dry, fertilize with an organic nitrogen-rich fertilizer once a month, prune dead or old leaves regularly and bring the plant indoors in winter season. When propagating, keep it in shade and avoid direct sun for 1-2 weeks. 

 

The main reason the plant may wither or die is if you overwater, underwater the plant (extreme drought) or at record high temperatures. Plants will also die if you do not bring the plant indoors during the winter season when the temperature falls below 70°F (21°C).

 

If you read this article completely,  you will be an expert in Curry Leaves plant plant care, how to grow and propagate, what Soil to use, Repotting, Pruning and how much Water, Sunlight and Fertilizer is needed. You will know the best and most recommended ways to care for your Curry Leaves plant.

 

Origin

Asia

Genus

Murraya

Scientific Name

Murraya koenigii

Common Names

Sweet Neem, Meethi Neem & Kadhi patta (India), Curry leaf tree, curry tree

👪Family

Rutaceae

🌵Type

Tropical/Subtropical Tree

🌵Climate

Tropical/Subtropical

🌡️Temperature

70°F  (>21° C). Hardiness Zones: 9 to 12

💧Watering

Only when 2-3 inch of topsoil is dry

Soil

Well draining, porous, acidic (5.6 pH to 6.0 pH)

☀️Light

Full sun, at least 6-8 hours per day

Fertilizer

Nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer, once a month during spring to summer season.

🌼Growing season

Spring and Summer

🐛Pests

scales

☠️Toxicity

Seeds of the fruit are poisonous

🧴Use

Food ingredient in Indian cooking

Propagation🌱

By seed or by stem cuttings

Height📏

13 to 20 ft (4 to 6m) & 4 to 12 ft wide

🍃Leaf Colors

green curry leaves

🌼Flowers

Yes, white flower that turn into light pink (immature) to black (mature) fruit

 

How to water💧

Water your curry leaf plant when the top 1-2 inches of the soil is completely dry. During summer, you may need to water curry leaf plants every day to make sure the soil does not get too dry under full sun. During spring and winter months, you may need to water the plant just once a week. During the cooler days, the plant will very likely be dormant so you will need to reduce the frequency of watering as it does not need much when dormant. 

 

The best way to know when to water Curry Leaves plant is to do the finger test where you stick your finger and see if 1-2 inches of the topsoil has dried out completely before giving it more water. If it's still moist, don't water it. Overwatering will waterclog and kill the plant so avoid overwatering, especially during the winter.

 

Sunlight Requirements ☀️

Curry leaf plants love full sun and thrive in 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. However, the plant can also survive and grow if it gets just 1 hour of sunlight per day as well.

 

If you have just re-potted or propagated using a stem cutting, do not keep the plant in direct sun. Keep it in a shaded area for a week and gradually introduce the sun.

Soil

Curry Leaves plant needs following properties in its soil

  • Well draining
  • Slightly acidic (5.6 pH to 6.0 pH)
  • Porous soil

 

  1. 40% Peat moss
  2. 40% Compost
  3. 20% Perlite or Vermiculite
  4. 2 tsp Garden Lime (to neutralize peat moss acidity)


 

Fertilizer

Once a month from Spring to Summer (March until October), feed your curry leaves plant with a cow manure fertilizer, vermi-compost or any nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer. Nitrogen helps in the foliage growth while Phosphorus helps in root growth. Curry leaf plants can become iron-deficient, so it is also a good practice to add 1 tsp of iron sulfate once a month to the soil. 

 

Do not fertilize when the plant is dormant (winter).

 

Fertilizer options for Curry Leaf Plants:

  • All purpose liquid plant food
  • All purpose slow release fertilizer
  • Blood meal
  • Fish/seaweed emulsion
  • Well composted Manure

 

Jaggery Water: You can also feed the plant with jaggery water. Jaggery contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur and many other micronutrients. Just crush 50 gms of jaggery in some water and leave it overnight. Add 1 tsp epsom salt to this mixture. Feed the curry leaves plant with a half cup of Jaggery fertilizer once every 15 days.

 

Sour Buttermilk: You can also feed your curry leaf plant with sour buttermilk once a week.

 

Rice Water: You can feed rice water to your Curry Leaf Plants as well. It contains starch which promotes the healthy bacteria growth in curry leaf plants. 

Pot Size and Repotting

Choosing the right size of the pot is crucial for leaf growth. If you pick a very large pot for a small curry leaf plant, all the plant's energy will be spent in building the root system rather than producing foliage.

 

You will need to repot your curry leaf plants at least every year, but no longer than 2 years. Spring is the best time to repot, so the plant has established itself and is ready for the summer season. Curry leaf plants grow very extensive root systems and may need frequent repotting. If you do not re-pot the curry leaf plant and it is severely root bound, the plant will not be able to gain water and nutrients from the soil and will die.

 

When you get a curry leaf plant from a nursery, make sure to see at the bottom for any protruding roots and re-pot into a bigger container if required. After repotting, water thoroughly.

How to Prune✂️

Pruning curry leaf plant is done for the following reasons:

  1. To get rid of old or yellow leaves
  2. Removing stems of old leaves
  3. For harvesting curry leaves

 

Prune 2-3 inches of curry leaf shoots to maximize the production of more leaves as new branches emerge after pruning. Pruning will make your curry leaf plant more bushier. When pruning, prune the entire petiole without leaving any skeleton on the plant so the plant’s energy does not get distributed to unused skeleton parts. 

 

Do not prune your plant as soon as you have repotted. Other than that, you can prune your curry leaf plant anytime you want.

Harvesting Curry Leaves

When you are harvesting curry leaves, take the entire branch out of the main stem. Do not leave the skeletons behind.

 

Start harvesting from the bottom leaves. Just pluck them and they should come out easily. 

 

Wash the leaves and air dry them for some time. Once the leaves are dry, store the leaves in the container and can be used for months. Curry leaves have the best aroma and flavor when freshly plucked. They lose their aroma and flavor quickly as they dry, but having a bushy curry leaf plant ensures constant supply for your curry leaf needs.

How to Grow & Propagate🌱

You can grow and propagate Curry leaves plants by stem cuttings or by curry leaves seeds. It is difficult to propagate curry leaves in a very hot climate but March to April along with the rainy season is the best recommended time to propagate and grow curry leaves.

Propagation by Cuttings

  1. Cut a 5-6 inch long stem of the Curry Leaves plant plant.
  2. Remove any leaves at the bottom of the cutting
  3. Place the cutting in the soil and mist thoroughly. Keep the soil moist always.
  4. Once the roots have developed, transfer the plant into a new pot with soil.
  5. Stem cutting will start to root in about 3 weeks.

Propagation by Seeds

  1. Clean the harvested black fruit from the curry leaf plant and place it on a paper tower.
  2. Peel the fruit carefully. Pick the biggest seeds that you can find in the fruit.
  3. Clean the seeds and remove any fruit residues.
  4. Place the seeds on the soil. Do not feed the plant with any fertilizer for the first 6 months of growth.
  5. Add a ¼ inch fine layer of potting mix. Do not sow the seeds too deep.
  6. Press it down lightly, firm the potting mix with the palm of your hand to create a smooth, even surface.
  7. Mist the compose with a spray bottle to settle it. Spray the potting mix until it feels wet at a depth of 1 inch.
  8. Place the container in a partial shade and keep the potting mix moist all the time while the vinca seeds germinate.
  9. Seeds will germinate and you will see curry plants emerge in 2-3 weeks.

Temperature and Humidity 🌡️

Ideal temperature for curry leaf plant growth is anything greater than 70°F  (>21° C). Temperature should not be too cold: cannot survive in heavy frost and snow. If you live in a place where the winter temperatures go below 70°F (21°C), do not grow curry leaf plants in the ground and use containers, and bring the plant indoors during winter.

Winter Curry Leaf Plant Care Tips

  • If the temperature is below 70°F (21°C), keep the plant indoors.
  • If you keep the plant indoors, keep it in a location that receives sunlight.
  • Do not re-pot or change the soil during winter. It can cause root damage and affect plant growth. You can re-pot when spring arrives.
  • No need to fertilize during winter. Continue with monthly fertilization when spring arrives.
  • Do not prune during winter as the plant growth is slow during winter. You may prune 1 month before the start of winter.
  • You may overwater during the winters so watch out for that. Only water when topsoil feels dry.
  • If the plant is kept indoors, rotate the container weekly so all the leaves can get enough sunlight for growth.
  • If the plant starts drying out, apply Hydrogen Peroxide solution. 2 tsp HP + 1 ltr water. Mix well and pour into the soil.
  • Do not remove the baby plants that you see at the bottom. It will affect the root and plant growth during winter. You can remove the baby plant when spring arrives.
  • Once the winter has passed and the temperatures are not greater than 70°F  (>21° C), move the plant outdoors again and gradually introduce light to the plant by keeping it in part shade for a week.

How fast does Curry Leaves plant grow

If you are growing curry leaf trees from seeds, the seed will germinate within 14 to 21 days (3-4 weeks) provided that the soil is kept warm and moist. However, it can take upto 2 years for the plant to establish. Once it’s established and mature, it will be worth it. You may go this route if you are living in a tropical country and planting the curry leaf plant in the ground.

 

If you live in a place where winter temperatures go below 70F, or you don't have the patience to wait for 2 years, you can get a mature plant in a container from any nearby nursery and further propagate using stem cuttings.

Pests 🐛and Diseases🦠

Scales may attack your curry leaf plants. To get rid of them, just use 91% iso-propyl alcohol and a cotton swab to clean and remove the scale insects. If the leaves change colors or become sticky, the plant may be infected with a disease.

Curry Leaf Plant Toxicity☠️

The curry leaf plant produces an edible fruit, but the seeds are poisonous and should be removed before consumption.

Benefits of Curry Leaves

  • Rich in vitamins
  • Good source of iron and calcium
  • Helps in weight loss
  • Good for diabetics
  • Good for eyesight
  • Helps in hair growth

You can use curry leaves in making a variety of indian dishes and chutneys. You can also make herbal hair oil.

Flowering🌼

Spring is the time when Curry Leaves plants bloom. Curry plants start producing buds and flowers in spring. Once the spring season has passed, these flowers start developing into fruits in the summer season. Fruits that are light pink in color are immature fruits, and the fruits that have turned black are ready to be harvested. These black fruits will have seeds in them which will be used for propagation of curry leaf plants.

 

If you do not wish to use the curry leaf seed, it is recommended to remove the flower buds when they appear in the spring season so that the plant's energy is not focused on fruit production. This will result in more foliage growth which is very likely your goal when growing curry leaf plants.

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