How to Grow Curry Leaf
This is a continuation of my Spice Series.
Welcome to my information on Curry Leaf!
**The first and most important thing to know about curry leaf is that it is NOT curry powder. It does not look like curry powder, it does not taste like curry powder, and curry leaves are NOT an ingredient in curry powder.
**Curry leaves, are, however, an important ingredient in many curry dishes, especially in India, Thailand, and other Asian countries.
**It is often used in a similar way that Americans use bay leaves: both are used in long simmering stews and soups and are a more passive aromatic addition rather than “THE main” spice for the dishes.
**It has a fragrant, citrus-like flavor and not only has amazing uses for culinary purposes, but also has been used in Ayruvedic medicine for centuries. It would also be a wonderful addition in anyone’s garden and can be grown at home.
This post is about How to Grow Curry Leaf.
How to Grow:
**Curry Leaf is a wonderful potted plant to add to your garden and herb collection. It has an upright, open growth appearance, aromatic and pungent leaves, and it will be an indoor plant for most American garden zones, since it is a tropical plant.
**You can expect your Curry Leaf plant to have flowers and vibrant green leaves throughout the spring, summer, and fall. You can also expect the leaves to drop off during its’ resting period in the winter months.
**Curry Leaf (official name: Murraya Koenigii) comes in three different varieties: (1) Regular: these grow tall and fast and look most like the Curry leaf you buy at the grocery store; (2) Dwarf: these do not grow as tall and the leaves are lighter in color and longer than the ones you usually buy at the store; (3) Gamthi: this is the most fragrant, has thick leaves, and grows the slowest of the three.
**No matter which of the three varieties you grow, all three need full sun, well-drained and slightly acidic soil, and temperatures over 40 degrees F.
**If you grow it indoors in a container (which is the best method for most American garden zones), make sure you slowly increase the size of the container over the years as the plant grows.
**If it is container-grown and is in an area with excellent light and warmth in the winter, there is possibility that your curry leaf plant will not have a very long winter-resting period and might not even lose its’ leaves.
**If it is container-grown and you are planning on putting it outdoors in the warm months, be sure to acclimate it to full-sun exposure gradually and to also watch the plant carefully for sunburning issues if your weather goes over 100 degrees F.
**You can propagate curry leaf by seed. It will take 1-2 years for the seedlings to become established. You should pinch and prune them while they are young in order to have a multiple-branched plant that will give you more leaves for harvesting.
**If you propagate from seed, you might want to remove the hard outer shell before planting to help it germinate quicker. Make sure to use fresh seeds.
**If you are not interested in waiting a few years before getting harvests of curry leaf, you can also buy curry leaf plants from some local nurseries or sometimes your local Asian market. Make sure you are getting the correct plant: there is an herb called “curry plant” also known as ‘Helichrysum italicum’, which is NOT curry leaf, since curry leaf is known as ‘Murraya koenigii’. Some American nurseries do not label the difference between the two plants very well.
**Since most people can only grow curry leaf in a container, it is important to stimulate your plant and keep it healthy with regular feedings of fertilizer (like this one). You should feed your curry leaf plant once every 5 weeks.
**Sometimes, curry leaf has issues with iron deficiency. Once every 6 weeks, you should give it 2 tbsp. of 20% iron sulfate (like this) or 1 tsp. of powdered chelate iron or some other iron product for plants (like this one).
**During the winter season, your plant’s leaves might turn yellow. This usually means that the plant is about to go dormant and might lose its’ leaves. If your plant goes dormant/loses its’ leaves, cut back on watering in order to prevent root rot.
**Prune your plant once a year during the spring in order to keep your plant healthy and producing large amounts of good leaves.
**If you see berries appear on the branches of your plant, you probably want to pluck them off. This will encourage new leaf growth. If you leave them on, they will turn into beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers, but it also means your plant will be putting its’ energy into growing the flowers instead of the leaves.
**It is better to keep your curry leaf plant more on the dry side then to give them too much water. Let the soil dry out between watering.
**When you are transplanting your curry leaf plant to a bigger container, try not to break any roots. Add good quality potting soil to the new container as well. Eventually, by the time the plant is 10 years old, it should be in at least a 30 gallon size container (like this one) for optimal health.
**Curry Leaf is easy to harvest: simply pluck off leaves as you need them for cooking. These leaves have the best flavor when they are used fresh instead of dried.
**The more you harvest, the bushier the plant will become, meaning that harvesting encourages the growth for future harvesting.
**Enjoy the aromatic leaves and the beauty of this plant as well as the culinary aspects of this plant for years to come.
**If you are interested in purchasing curry leaf and you cannot find it at your local grocery store, Indian/Asian market, or natural store, here is an option for you: Click here for a fresh curry leaf to order online.
**Click here for my Medicinal Benefits of Curry Leaves post.
**Click here for my Culinary Uses for Curry Leaves post.
**Click here for my Spice Series introduction page, which has links to a whole bunch of other amazing spices that I have researched so far.
**Do YOU grow curry leaves? If so, how is that going? If not, do you think you will grow it now?