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How to Grow and Care for Heliotrope Plants

Heliotropium arborescens

This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsSome or all parts of this plant may be toxic or poisonousButterfly FlowerNo DeerWhite flowering plantPurple flowering plantHeliotropium arborescensHow to Use the Plant Care Icons at The Garden Helper
Heliotropes are also known by the old-fashioned name of a Cherry Pie Plant.
Heliotrope plants are frost tender, evergreen shrubs that are most often cultivated
as fast growing, easy to care for, annual bedding plants.
They can also be grown in containers and over-wintered indoors in a brightly lit, cool (55°-65°) place.
In regions where they are hardy, Heliotrope plants will grow 4-6 feet tall
but they will only grow from 12"-18" tall and wide as annual plants or in containers.
Heliotropes have attractive, 3"-4", dark green, lance shaped leaves with prominent veins but the main attraction is their
4" clusters of tiny, tightly grouped, funnel shaped purple, violet or white flowers throughout their entire growing season.
The flowers have the sweet fragrance of vanilla or sometimes the aroma cherry pie...
All parts of the Heliotrope plant are poisonous.
Sinclair the Garden Gnome

Growing Requirements for Heliotrope Plants

Unfortunately, Heliotrope plants are only hardy in USDA Zones 10-11.
They prefer cooler climates where they should be grown in full sun for the best growth and blooms.
In areas with hot summers they should be grown in partial shade.
Heliotropes should be planted in moist, rich, slightly acidic soil that has been supplemented
with a generous amount of well-decayed compost at planting time.
Well-drained soil
is essential to prevent root rot.
Water regularly and thoroughly. Container grown plants should be watered thoroughly when the surface of the soil just begins to dry. Apply a heavy cover of mulch to help preserve moisture.
Cut established plants back by ½ in late winter or very early in the spring to induce bushiness.
Pinch young plants to promote branching.
Deadhead spent flowers regularly to promote continued flowering.
Heliotropes can be pruned as needed in the fall after blooming, or in late winter.

Feed your Heliotrope monthly while it is actively growing, using a bloom type fertilizer (7-9-5) according to label directions.
Check carefully for whiteflies, spider mites, aphids and mealybugs,
before bringing your Heliotrope back indoors for the winter.

Propagating Heliotrope Plants and Growing Them from Seed

Heliotropes can be propagated with cuttings taken late summer.
Container grown plants that have spent the winter indoors can also be used as stock plants to take cuttings from in the spring.

Start Heliotrope seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before your last expected frost. Maintain a temperature of 70°-75° within the growing medium until germination, which takes 4-6 weeks. Pinch seedling tips, and then pinch young plants again before moving them out to the garden a few weeks after the last frost, when the soil has warmed to about 60°.

Heliotrope
Heliotropium arborescens
A White Flowering Heliotrope in Bloom, Heliotropium arborescens