BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO

Herbs are globally popular because of their aroma and how they add flavor to nearly any dish. Among them is the curry leaf tree, an aromatic tropical tree with a strong scent whose fresh and dried leaves are used in cooking soups, stews, and meat dishes. 

Aside from being cultivated as an herb, the curry leaf tree is also grown indoors for decorative purposes because of its admirable shape. 

The curry leaf tree (Murraya koenigii) is a small bush or tree that only grows to just under six meters in height. Curry leaf plants can be grown through cuttings or seeds. Fresh seeds only need to be sown in potting soil and kept damp. They will also need a warm area of at least 20 degrees Celsius to germinate. 

Gardeners can also use fresh curry leaves with a stem to start a plant. They only need to treat the leaves as a cutting and insert them into a soilless potting medium. It will begin rooting in about three weeks if kept warm and moist. 

Once the curry leaf tree has established itself, gardeners can begin caring for them. Maintaining them is straightforward, allowing beginner gardeners to carry them out without complications. Here are five tips on how to grow the plant properly.

1. Choose the right container 

Most curry leaf plants grow better in containers compared to being planted directly in the soil. Growing the plant in containers also allows gardeners to move them around easier. A deep, wide container is highly suggested but the plants need to be transplanted as they grow. It will need at least a 30-gallon container when it’s 10-years-old. 2

2. Providing direct, full sun 

The first growth requirement that curry leaf plants need is access to direct, full sunlight because it prefers warmth and heat as a subtropical plant. Full sunlight will keep the plant from losing its leaves. If living in a cold climate area, gardeners can use grow lights.

3. Plant in well-draining, fertile soil

Curry leaf trees are delicate and don’t adapt well to poor-quality soil. They thrive best when planted in well-draining soil and fertile soil. Adding sand and manure to soil can help improve their quality.

4. Water once a week 

Since curry leaf plants prefer warmth and heat, watering them once a week will do the trick. But before watering, gardeners should check out the soil to see if it’s completely dry because overwatering may cause root rot. 

Despite their love for the sun, the plant doesn’t handle drought well. During the summer, the plants need watering twice a week. Only beginner skills in gardening are needed to maintain curry leaf plants, making them ideal for inexperienced gardeners. 

5. Fertilize young trees lightly 

Young curry leaf trees don’t need heavy fertilizers. Since it’s not a heavy feeder, giving it a liquid fertilizer every three to four weeks can help boost its growth. 

If properly grown, gardeners can enjoy a healthy curry leaf tree that will provide them with a source of fresh herbs that they can add to their meals.