The curry plant has a pungent, honey-rich, curry-like, sweet smell that is restorative, uplifting, cleansing and a tonic.
Curry plant cultivation
The curry plant is an evergreen aromatic herb that releases a mouthwatering fragrance of curry each time you brush past it. This is an upright plant that will grow into a semi-sprawling shrub of about 60cm. It has densely arrayed needle-shaped leaves which are covered in fine hairs. These give the plant a silvered appearance. It requires an open sunny position and a very well drained soil. Plants may suffer temporary die back after light frost. If your temperature drops below 5°C then plant under protection for the winter. You can prune and shape the shrub. It does not do well in prolonged rain so to avoid any fungus which may grow on the foliage mulch around the plant, and ensure it has good air circulation.
Which one to buy?
Look for dartington which has mustard-yellow flowers or nanum which is a dwarf herb. As it only grows to 30cm it is perfect for small gardens or to edge flower beds. Do not confuse this with a curry tree. The curry tree leaves are what you use traditionally for Indian cooking. You can plant a curry tree in a container and it prefers a warm climate and must be placed in full sun, but it will survive in partial shade.
How to use
You can use the leaves and the flowers, picked fresh. Add sprigs to eggs, chiken, rice or vegetable dishes to impart a mild curry flavour, but only cook briefly. An essential oil is produced by steam distillation from the fresh flowers. This antiseptic oil can be used for treating nervous debility or to ease muscular aches and pain. An infusion or tea is used as a treatment for respiratory infections, digestive disorders and skin complaints.