If you want to know how to grow heliotrope, then you are at the right place. Heliotropes (Heliotropium arborescens), popular as outdoor bedding plants, can also be grown indoors as houseplants— adding a splash of color and a pleasant aroma to your living space. Breeders have introduced new varieties with different colored flowers in recent years as the plant has gained popularity among outdoor gardeners, but the purple heliotrope remains the standard.
Unfortunately, animals are poisoned by all parts of the heliotrope plant. Despite their enticing aroma, heliotropes are not particularly appealing plants, so most pets and animals avoid them. Regardless, keep this houseplant out of the reach of any curious four-legged family members.
How to Grow Heliotrope: Easy Guide
A full sun location and organically rich, well-draining soil are ideal for growing heliotrope. The pH of the soil should be between 6.6 and 7.3.
And, while it enjoys soaking up the rays in areas with extreme summer heat, it not only tolerates but also benefits from a little afternoon shade.
One of the most important aspects of growing heliotrope is keeping the soil evenly moist, never letting it completely dry out or become soggy and over-saturated.
This is especially difficult when growing in containers, which dry out much faster than ground soil.
Plants do not tolerate wet feet, so make sure your ground soil or potting medium drains well. Sand should be added to the soil as needed, and containers with holes in the bottom should be used.
As previously stated, you must begin heliotrope early in order for it to bloom during the growing season and before the threat of autumn frost.
Use a standard garden pot with a top rim diameter of 18 inches if growing heliotrope as a houseplant.
Bring your plant inside at the end of the summer. Place it in an area that receives daytime sunlight and nighttime temperatures ranging from 50°F to 55°F. Place the pot on a wheeled caddy if necessary to make it easier to move around to meet these needs.
According to the package instructions, indoor and outdoor heliotropes are “heavy feeders” and benefit from regular doses of flowering plant food throughout the growing season.
Tips For Growing Heliotrope: How to Grow Heliotrope
This plant prefers lush environments where it can produce an abundance of rich blossoms that enchant their enchanting fragrance.
The following pointers will ensure your success:
- In the hottest areas, full sun is preferred, but a little afternoon shade is appreciated.
- Maintain an even moisture level in the soil while ensuring proper drainage.
- Feed throughout the growing season to ensure an abundance of blooms.
How You Can Care Heliotrope
While heliotropes are typically grown in garden beds and planters, with proper care, they can also be grown indoors as houseplants. Aside from providing the proper growing conditions, it is critical to plant your heliotrope in a potting container with drainage holes. Because heliotropes prefer consistently moist soil, proper drainage is critical to keeping the soil from becoming waterlogged and the roots from rotting.
Heliotropes are full-sun plants that bloom after several hours of direct sunlight. This can be difficult to achieve indoors unless the plant is placed in a west-facing window or has a grow light.
Heliotrope grows best indoors in loamy, well-draining potting soil. Most common houseplant soil mixes will suffice, or you can make your loamy mix by combining one part peat moss or coco coir, one part perlite, and one part potting soil.
Keep the soil moist but not soaked, and don’t let it dry. Once the plant has finished blooming, reduce watering slightly during the winter.
4. Humidity and Temperature
Heliotropes love warm, dry conditions, making them ideal for indoor cultivation. They dislike excessively hot or humid weather and are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures. In USDA zones 9 to 11, they can be grown outside all year.
These flowering plants are heavy feeders and will require fertilization on a regular basis during the active growing season. Phosphorus-rich fertilizers are best for encouraging blooming, but balanced fertilizers are also appropriate. Avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizers, which promote foliage growth while inhibiting flowering. During the spring and summer, fertilize your plant every 2 to 3 weeks.
What Are The Different Types of Heliotropes
There are numerous varieties of common heliotrope to choose from, but the most common flowering cultivators are as follows:
- ‘Princess Marina’ Heliotropium arborescens
- ‘Mary Fox’ Heliotropium arborescens
- ‘Florence Nightingale’ Heliotropium arborescens
- ‘White Lady’ Heliotropium arborescens
- ‘White Queen’ Heliotropium arborescens
How to Make Heliotrope Bloom
Indoors, heliotropes can be more difficult to grow because they typically receive less sunlight, essential for healthy, consistent blooms. To encourage prolific blooming, place your heliotrope in a bright, sunny location indoors; fertilize on a regular basis during the spring and summer, and keep the soil consistently moist.
If you’re still having trouble getting your heliotrope to bloom indoors, consider moving it outside for the warmer spring and summer months and overwintering it as a houseplant.
Propagating Heliotrope: How to Grow Heliotrope
Heliotropes can be propagated in soil using stem cuttings at any time during the active growing season (spring and summer). Taking cuttings from an established outdoor plant may be the simplest way to get this flowering shrub growing indoors. Follow these steps to propagate heliotrope by cuttings:
1. Take 4 to 5-inch stem cuttings from a mature plant, cutting just below a leaf on the stem. You should also take cuttings from green, fleshy stems rather than woody stems.
2. Remove the leaves from the cutting’s bottom half and dip the end in the rooting hormone.
3. Place the cutting(s) in a pot of pre-moistened soil and place the pot in a bright, indirect light location.
4. Keep the cuttings evenly moist and away from direct sunlight.
5. After a few weeks, the cuttings should start to root, at which point you can gradually expose them to more direct sunlight.
How to Grow Heliotrope from Seed
Heliotropes can be grown from seed as well as propagated. When grown as a houseplant, seeds can be started at any time of year, but traditionally, seeds are started 10-12 weeks before the last frost.
Heliotrope seeds must be started with a seed warming mat because they must be kept at a temperature of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (12-24 degrees Celsius). Keep the soil moist, and the seeds should germinate in 28-42 days.
Common Pests (Heliotrope)
Heliotropes are not particularly pest or disease-prone, especially when grown indoors; however, there are a few common houseplant pests to be aware of. Aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, fungus gnats, and whiteflies can spread from other houseplants to your heliotrope and become a problem.
Infected plants should be treated with insecticidal soap or neem oil until the infestation is resolved.
What Are The Common Issues With Heliotrope
Heliotropes are generally low-maintenance and trouble-free, but they can have more problems when grown indoors due to insufficient light or watering. Keep an eye out for the issues listed below.
1. Falling Leaves
If your heliotrope is dropping leaves, it isn’t getting enough moisture, and your watering schedule needs to be adjusted. Maintain an even moisture level in the soil, and do not allow it to dry.
2. There are no flowers.
When heliotropes do not bloom indoors, it is usually because they do not receive enough sunlight or water. Make sure you’re also using a phosphorus-rich fertilizer, which will encourage blooming.
FAQ (How to Grow Heliotrope)
Q1. Are heliotropes harmful to pets?
Yes, all parts of the heliotrope plant are toxic to animals if eaten, according to the ASPCA.
Q2. How big can heliotropes get inside?
When grown indoors, this compact shrub typically grows about 1-2 feet tall, but you can control this with regular pruning and shaping if desired.
Q3. When should you report your heliotrope plant?
Heliotropes grow slowly and should only need to be repotted every 1-2 years, depending on the size of your initial pot and growing conditions.