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HELICHRYSUM italicum

Image of Helichrysum italicum

Carol Cloud Bailey

Family

Asteraceae

Botanical Name

HELICHRYSUM italicum

Plant Common Name

Curry Plant, Gold Strawflower

General Description

Both the wispy, silver-gray foliage and golden yellow flowers of the curry plant are ornamental. Often confused with lavender when not in bloom, this tender perennial subshrub originates from the warm, rocky regions of southern Europe and Turkey. Where hardy, it survives as a low, shrubby evergreen, but it is most commonly grown as a bedding filler for containers and sunny flower gardens because its cool, neutral foliage compliments many brightly colored annuals.

Curry plant is densely branched and covered with fine, gray-green to silver leaves that smell of curry powder when crushed. From midsummer to fall, its branches become covered with clusters of bright yellow, button-like flowers. These appeal to butterflies and should be cut off when blooming has ceased.

Grow curry plant in full sun and coarse, neutral to alkaline soil that is not too fertile. Make sure it does not get overwatered in winter and prune back its branches in spring to keep its form tidy and foliage fresh. In areas were it is not hardy, grow it in containers for its foliage texture and color. Though not used as a component of curry spice, tiny pinches of fresh curry plant leaves can be added to salads or meat dishes. An essential oil, called immortelle, is made from its leaves and often sold as a pain reliever, skin treatment or used in aromatherapy.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 7

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Width

    1'-3' / 0.3m - 0.9m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    Southern Europe, Mediterranean, Turkey

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Cushion/Mound-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Light Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    White, Gray Green, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    White, Gray Green, Gray

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green, Gray

  • Bark Color

    Tan

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Cutflower, Edging, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes