Choose the right location: Curry plants grow best in a sunny location with at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. They can be grown in soil or in a pot. Indoors or outdoors, but a different approach applies to both.
- Light: Place the curry plant near a window that receives at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight daily. If natural light is limited, consider using supplementary grow lights.
- Temperature: Curry plants grow best at a moderate room temperature between 20-25°C. Try to avoid fluctuations in temperature, as they are sensitive to cold draughts.
- Humidity: Curry plants like high humidity. You can increase this by using a humidifier, placing a bowl of water near the plant or spraying the leaves wet with a plant sprayer.
- Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist, but avoid watering the roots. It can be drier indoors, so check the moisture of the soil regularly. Water the plant when the top layer of the soil feels dry. But avoid overwatering, as this can cause root rot.
- Light: Outdoor curry plants grow best in full sun to light shade. They need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day for optimal growth.
- Temperature: Normally, curry plants grow best in warm climates. They are sensitive to frost, so protect them from cold temperatures. If you put the plant outside in its pot, you can move it back inside in winter. If you do leave the plant outside protect it using tree bark chips/mulch or a cloth. They will also lose their leaves, but don’t panic, these will grow back in spring.
- Humidity: Outside, humidity is naturally regulated, but make sure the plant does not stay wet for too long, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot.
- Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist. Water the plant in warm temperatures and/or drought conditions when the top layer of the soil feels dry. But avoid overwatering as this can cause root rot.
- Natural pollination: If you grow outdoors, the plant benefits from natural pollination by bees and other insects.
Fertiliser / plant nutrition: During the growing season (spring and summer), give your curry plant a plant nutrition, this contains sodium, phosphorus and calcium. The plant needs this to grow extra well. Fertiliser granules are made to slowly release nutrients. If the plant is not doing well (discoloured leaves and leaf fall) it needs nutrition ‘now’. Then give liquid fertiliser, these days you can already buy it at the supermarket or action, this will do just fine. Follow the dosage on the label and you can’t go wrong.
Trimming / harvesting: Regular pruning promotes denser growth and helps keep the plant healthy. Harvest the leaves of the plant by cutting them off at the stem, but make sure not to remove more than a third of the plant at a time.
Pest control: Keep an eye out for pests such as aphids and whiteflies. Use natural methods or mild insecticides to control them. Pod aphids in particular love the curry plant, this little critter is related to the aphid, but unfortunately a lot harder to control. This is because it is protected with a shell, just like the scale insect. It eats the plant’s nutrients, produces honeydew, inhibits the plant’s growth, causes leaf fall and discoloured leaves. You don’t want this, of course, and luckily there are many ways to control scale insects. For instance, you can fight them with spirit, green soap, garlic, cold coffee and so on. The easiest way is to put the plant under water for about 15 minutes. This way, you can remove the entire infestation at once. This is especially useful when the plant is still a bit smaller. Another method to use is control with alcohol. Soak a cotton ball with alcohol (not sweet but something like Spirit) and rub all the spots that have cap aphids on them. After about a minute, you can easily remove all the pod aphids. Do check carefully that you don’t forget any of them, otherwise chances are that a new pest will return.
Repot: If your curry plant grows in a pot, you should repot it every few years, otherwise the roots become too restricted.
Flowering: Under the right conditions (plenty of sunlight, good humidity and the right temperature), the plant can start flowering. The flowers of the curry plant are small and white and have a lovely sweet fragrance similar to the smell of ripe oranges. The flowering period of the curry plant varies slightly, but usually takes place in late spring to early summer. When the plant starts flowering, it looks pretty and smells extra nice, but this is also a sign that the plant may start producing seeds. These are green at first, but then turn red/black. You can use the black seeds to grow a new curry plant!
So it is important to prune/harvest regularly, control pests and keep an eye on the plant’s health. Taking care of a curry plant both indoors and outdoors can be rewarding, but you need to consider the specific requirements of the growing environment to ensure the plant grows and stays well. But with care and attention, the plant will provide you with fresh, fragrant curry leaves that you can use in all kinds of delicious dishes.