Curry Leaf plant or Curry Leaf tree is an easy to grow herb in your garden. Also known as Murraya Koenigii or Bergera Koenigii, it prefers a hot, sunny location and usually thrives in Southern California weather. The plants produce aromatic pointed leaves which are widely used in Indian, Sri Lankan and other South East Asian cuisines. The leaves are used as spice and they impart a nice flavor to food, just toss a few leaves in hot oil to flavor your soups, curries, stir fry veggies and stew.
Propagating Curry Leaf Tree
Curry leaf plants are most commonly propagated from seeds although you can also propagate them by planting the suckers or plants that grow around it. Here you can see a plant that is now producing flowers and buds.
In summer season, the plants start flowering and produce white flowers which soon will turn into seeds. It usually takes about 2 months from flowering stage to setting seeds.
You should wait for the seeds to mature before harvesting them, when the seeds mature they turn dark, plump and really black in color. Here you can see some seeds that are mature vs the green ones that haven’t matured yet.
Once you harvest the seeds make sure you remove the black fleshy part around the seed before sowing it. Use a good seed starting mix; do not use any kind of soil especially hard soil as it will prevent good germination of your curry leaf seeds. A good seed starting mix would typically contain 40% coco coir or peat moss, 25% vermiculite to aid in drainage, 25% coarse perlite and 10% worm castings or compost to give that little extra nutrition to the plants while they germinate and grow. Plant one seed per square in this seed starting kit as pictured below.
Always keep the soil moist for optimum germination. They usually take around 15 days to germinate, they take a while to germinate but have a decent germination rate of about ninety percent.
It is very important that you start pruning your curry leaf plant early in its growth stage. This plant is about 12 inches in height, leave about 3 to 4 inches from the top and prune it right there. Make sure you make a nice sharp cut. Within a few weeks the plant will produce side shoots and fill out into a mini grove of numerous bushy stalks with pointed leaves. That is a sign that your plants are healthy and thriving.
Repotting, fertilizing and pruning after repotting.
Make sure you repot your curry leaf tree every year or every two years depending on the size of the container you use. You don’t want the curry leaf plant growing in containers to be root bound, such plants often fail to thrive and the leaves look dull and pale. Here we are transferring a curry leaf tree from a 5 gallon container to a 15 gallon container so it has enough room to grow. While repotting your plant, ensure you remove little soil from the bottom and loosen the dirt a bit; it helps in stimulating new root growth. At this stage it’s probably a good idea to add either a slow release fertilizer or water soluble fertilizer for optimal growth. You could either chose from an all purpose liquid plant food, an all purpose slow release fertilizer, Blood Meal, Fish/Seaweed emulsion, well composted manure or any high nitrogen fertilizer for added nutrition.
Once repotted, make sure you compact the soil around the plant very well to support your plant. Water your plants very well till the soil settles down. It is also recommended at this stage that you prune your curry leaf plant as described above to encourage more growth.
When harvesting curry leaves a lot of people do the mistake of just harvesting the leaves and leave the skeletons of the branch on the plant. They just harvest from the bottom part of the plant leaving skeletons of the leaflets all over. These skeletons are not good for the plant. Ideally you can either harvest the tops when pruning the tree or follow the method described below. Harvest at the petiole as you see in the diagram here:
Start from the bottom part of the stems, grab the whole petiole or leaflet and harvest the entire leaflet, so you are not harvesting just the leaves but the entire leaflet.
Curry leaves are rich in fiber, calcium, phosphorus and iron. It contains Vitamin A, B, C and E and helps in fighting infections and in maintaining a good healthy immune system.
Mainly used for flavoring food, curry leaves are also widely used in skin care to maintain a flawless looking skin and also used in hair care to stimulate the growth of hair, reduce hair fall and prevent premature graying.
For your hair care routine, you can wash, dry few leaves, add them to coconut oil or prepare a hair mask out of it to apply to the scalp to condition and nourish your hair.
Here is a video describing all these processes and more!