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anyone growing curry leaves

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by lmani, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. happybuddha

    happybuddha New IL'ite

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    Sorry to bring this thread back to life. But I just wanted to check with folks in the US, on how they were able to grow their curry leaf ? I am in Birmingham, AL and I think I should be able to grow them fine. But where do I begin, I dont know.

    I remember while growing up we had this tree in our back yard and it kept sprouting so many other child trees. It used to be my responsibility to make sure the parent trees roots weren't branching out... lol.. ask me how I used to do it. Talking to the tree didn't help, obviously :)
    Yesterday, I bought 2 tiny twigs with about 20 leaves in all for a dollar and a half. That is sheer ridiculousness.
  2. karankundra

    karankundra New IL'ite

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    I am trying to grow curry leaves plant.
    Any advice on type of fertilizer to use ?:spin
  3. Sindhurao

    Sindhurao Gold IL'ite

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    HI happybuddha:

    All you need to do is buy a sapling of curry plant. How easily you can get the plant is a question mark. You might be able to order the curry leaves plant online. If I remember right, long time ago, someone in this forum had mentioned that you get them at Lowes.

    Once you have the plant, have it indoors until spring and then until early autumn the plant can remain outside.

    Also, you might want to check what zone your area falls under - for the average/ minimum maximum temperatures which helps in taking care of the plant.

  4. ZenSojourner

    ZenSojourner Silver IL'ite

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    It grows just FINE from seed! I grew all my curry leaf plant from seed.

    The seed has to be ABSOLUTELY FRESH - cannot be the least bit dried out. Because of citrus disease, seed in the US cannot be shipped still in the fruit, it has to be cleaned (and I think there is also a fumigation process involved after cleaning) and shipped so that it will stay moist. If the seed dries out at all it will not grow. I got my seed shipped from Hawaii into a state with no citrus industry. Because of citrus greening disease and the asian citrus psyllid (bug) that spreads it there are some pretty draconian regulations in place to try to quarantine the disease and stop its spread. If you live in a citrus growing state I'm not sure you will be able to buy from an outside source at all, the shipping nursery should know though.

    Years ago I could buy fresh curry leaf by the pound from a farm in Florida, but that suddenly stopped and it took me forever to find out why. Florida was one of the earliest hit areas in the US (if not THE earliest hit) and certainly the hardest hit due to the extensive citrus groves there. I imagine California is not far behind.

    To my knowledge Kitazawa seed has NEVER sold either plants or seeds from Murraya Koenigii. I have been a customer off and on there for almost 50 years and I have been ASSIDUOUSLY searching for sources for curry leaf plant since the 80s. I'd have noticed if they had it!

    The following are the US sources I know of:

    I bought a curry leaf plant from Logee's about 10 year ago, they are currently out of stock.

    Bhatia Nursery has for many years offered 3 different varieties of Murraya koenigii (curry leaf plant, sweet neem)

    Strictly Medicinal Seeds offers curry leaf plants, currently closed for the season

    I have seen it offered at Seeds of India but not recently. They have lots of other good stuff though.

    I got my seeds from a grower in Hawaii but I've since lost the contact information. I will say that for the last 3 or 4 years I have been unable to provide my poor plants with enough light as the part of the High Sierra Desert in which I live has a very short season when they can live outside. I won't put them out if I can't count on the night time temps to stay about 50F and here in JULY I still can't count on that. They struggle on however, as do I. It is a very hardy plant, fortunately for us both.

    They are an understory plant in the wild (eg they usually grow in sun with part shade at least part of the day). I have found my plants do better if they can be shaded in the hottest part of the day (which is usually 90 to 100+F in the hottest part of the summer here, which drops to 50s at night). Mine are planted in Groswtone/peat mix (Growstone is an artificial pumice and I'm not sure its made any more as the company was sold a year or two ago and was shut down for at least awhile).

    To grow from seed the seed must be absolutely fresh and moist. I planted mine in Miracle Gro potting mix because my seeds arrived early and that's all I had on hand. Mine came pre-cleaned but if you are harvesting fruit to get your seed you should clean the fruit off from around the seed just before planting.

    I was once told the seed is poisonous as well as the fruit. I'm not sure about the seed, but I have talked to people who say the fruit IS edible, though very strongly and unusually flavored. I keep hoping mine will set seed someday but so far they flower every year and then drop the flowers, possibly a lack of bees around here is partially to blame but also growing conditions for them have been far from ideal the last few years. They continue to put out leaves and flower but have virtually stopped growing (growth has slowed significantly due to lack of proper light).

    When sprouting the seedlings, I kept the planted seeds in their flat on a heat mat set at 80F. The heat mat struggled to keep the temp up at night so at night I covered the seed tray with a dome to keep the heat in. Remove it in the morning to avoid both overheating and too much humidity.

    I prematurely removed them from the heat mat (after about 2 weeks half the seeds had sprouted) and was surprised to find that I had NOT killed off the unsprouted ones, as they continued to sprout over time until all had sprouted and I even had some seedlings throwing baby plants. They definitely sprouted faster on the heat mat, I should have left them on there longer. Also I should have planted in individual very small pots instead of a flat so I could remove well sprouted plants without disturbing those not yet sprouted.

    I transplanted larger seedlings into individual 4" pots and put them under grow lights. 4 - T8 6500k 2750 lumen Phillips Daylight Deluxe bulbs available from Home Despot for under $35 per box of 10, in 2 fixtures, hung an inch above the tallest plant, with a cheap oscillating fan to provide air circulation. While I was able, I would schlep the plants outside when temps were warm enough in the daytime and then back in before it dropped to 50 or lower - I live in a desert with hot daytime temps and low night temps. But I have not been physically able to do that for the past several years plus I moved to a place where the growing season is at least 2, maybe even 3, months shorter than where I was before. I am constrained by the night time temps here even though it is plenty warm in the daytime.

    Curry leaf tree typically grows a very long tap root which an experienced grower (in India) told me to trim by hand if I was going to keep them potted forever. However I have found that keeping them in fabric pots that I got from the Greenhouse Megastore serves to air-trim the roots so I've never had to do that.

    I have never lived anywhere where I could put them in the ground (well I did live in Puerto Rico for several years but had nowhere to get the plant there) but I believe due to the long tap root, these plants, once well established, may not transplant well. But they should be throwing many baby plant that can be easily transplanted. And if you have a curry leaf plant that large, you can easily harvest the fruit and grow it from seed. I had NO TROUBLE that wasn't caused by inexperience and a lack of knowledge. And still they all sprouted.

    These plants require more magnesium and iron that most plants so I use an iron chelate solution once a year and an application of plain epsom salts dissolved in water. I use blood meal when I have it for nitrogen. I occasionally apply regular Miracle gro. The plants are more sensitive to missing an iron treatment than any other nutrient.

    Your growing medium should be both moisture retentive and well aerated, which the Growstone-peat blend perfectly provides. Peat acidity moderates the alkalinity of the growstone very well and the vast majority of my plants, including vegetables grown outdoors in containers, have been planted in this medium for almost 10 years. Orchids are the only thing I grow that do not seem to do well with Growstone, they seem to be too sensitive to the high alkalinity even when mixed with peat. I only grow bog standard Phalaenopsis.

    I just checked and apparently Growstone reopened for a short time in 2019 but closed down in December. And I missed it. So you can't get Growstone anymore unless you can find some in stock at a hydroponics shop. Fortunately for me Growstone is pretty nearly infinitely reusable (you can float it out of the expended peat moss, scoop it off, and sterilize in a bleach/water solution) but not so helpful for you guys. Pumice is probably a good alternative though I can't be sure of its alkalinity, might need some adjusting in mixing with other mediums such as peat moss. You might also try other hydroponics mediums in your potting mix, though I wouldn't suggest it if you're not of an experimental mindset.

    The vast majority of people here grow in regular potting soil but my early testing indicated that curry leaf plant thrived in the growstone mix and did obviously much more poorly in every other mix I tried, which is why I now have only half the plants I started with. Every plant that I planted into an alternate mix was stunted and even after replanting in the Growstone mix did not ever truly recover and eventually, when stressed, which my plants frequently are due to my disability and illnesses (and not forgetting a move 4 years ago that landed me in a place eminently UNsuitable for their outdoor life), eventually all those plants died.

    But a large part of that is an inability on my part to always be attentive to my plants so ... many people can and DO grow thriving curry leaf plants in more conventional potting mixes.

    If you live in a part of the US where curry leaf plant does grow, your best bet is to buy the plant locally. If you can't find a local source, any of the three nurseries listed above are likely choices if they have the plant in stock. Do not attempt to buy seed from India, I have never heard of anyone who had success with that because the seed dries out and dies in shipping. Do not attempt to bring it home with you due to the possible spread of citrus greening disease. A large part of the reason why the plants from the above nurseries are so expensive is all the quarantine regulations the nurseries must comply with in order to continue to sell this plant (though the difficulty of getting seed fresh enough to grow is also not inconsiderable). But take heart, if you can keep the poor thing alive long enough and grow it big enough, there is a chance that it will eventually set fruit from which you can harvest seed. It may also throw baby plants, and you may be able to root a stem (caveats to that below).

    I have NEVER had luck trying to root a stem. Only 3 sources I have ever seen have claimed to be successful with this. Two of those admitted to multiple failures and only a single success. All I can say is it has never, in 30 years of trying, worked for me. Possibly this works only if you can get EXTREMELY fresh stems. The specific strain of murraya koenigii may matter as well.

    I have never ever ever and would never pour curd or buttermilk on my plants. I don't suppose rice water would hurt but I doubt it helps. Unless and until I can get moved out of here to a place where my curry leaf plants can spend most of their time outdoors instead of sadly staring out my sunniest but still not all that sunny window, I'm not going to be further stressing my remaining plants with nefarious experimentation LOL!!! However should the pandemic lift and the housing market doesn't drop through the floor and we sell this place so I can move to warmer/moister climes (and be with my grandson), my Dr. Frankenstein half will want to reassert itself. Who knows what evils I may perpetrate against (no more than half) of my remaining plants then!

    So yes you can easily grow them from seed IF the seed is fresh, and yes even crippled old people can grow them from seed and keep them going for years on end. Not as well as I would like most recently, but where there is life ... there is hope.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020

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