Growing Old Fashioned Fragrant Heliotrope

Growing Old Fashioned Fragrant Heliotrope
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Growing Fragrant HeliotropeCommon heliotrope, Heliotropium arborescens, is an old fashioned perennial shrub from South America. It's an heirloom plant that was introduced to Europe in the 1700's. and was one time called Cherry Pie plant due to its lovely vanilla scent mixed with a cinnamon-like aroma.

It's aroma is deepest in the evenings and if you can place it near a porch or window you'll enjoy it's fragrance all summer. The oldest purple variety seems to be the most fragrant and also attract butterflies and moths.

Most people grow heliotrope as an annual, except in Zones 10 and 11, because it isn't cold hardy. Usually it will stay around 18 inches, but in the warmer climates it can grow to 4 foot.

The flowers are tiny, but they are grown in clusters--the flowers opening from left to right. Heliotrope should have full morning sun, but it can tolerate partial shade in the hot afternoons. Moisture is important in growing this plant--if it dries out the lower leaves will begin to drop and it won't be happy.

Plants should be set out after the last frost date. They are not cold hardy. You can also start heliotrope from seeds, though they do take up to a month to germinate. Sprinkle the seeds in a 4 or 5 inch pot or container and thin by transplanting later into pots. Start them up to 12 weeks before the last frost.

It's not too late to start now if it's fairly soon. Don't let the soil dry out before or after germination. The plants can be pinched out for a bushier appearance, and they should be deadheaded after bloom. Leave a few on the plant and when they dry, shake them into a bowl or pie plate and roll between your fingers to separate out the seeds.

You can overwinter heliotrope by digging carefully around the roots and transplanting it to a pot. Bring it into the house gradually and treat it like a houseplant for the winter, cutting back as needed. It will need less water during the cool weather. Heliotrope also does well in containers outside as well or in window boxes during the warm weather.

Once you grow heliotrope, the fragrance will have you hooked and it will be on your list of must-have plants!

Image: Wikimedia.org

 

About The Author

Beau is 9 years old and loves to cook. He has been cooking since he was 2. He and his mom like to come up with fun, inexpensive things to make in the kitchen.
 
 

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