Helichrysum italicum

Helichrysum italicum
Helichrysum italicum 
Italian strawflower
SIZE/TYPE mid-sized perennial
 small shrub
USUAL HEIGHT 0.4-0.6m
USUAL WIDTH 0.4-0.6m
LEAVES evergreen broadleaf
COLOUR OF LEAVES +multicoloured:blue-green and silvery-blue
FLOWERS showy
COLOUR OF FLOWERS yellow
BLOOMING TIME June - July
LOCATION full sun
SOIL TYPE neutral to alkaline
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS dry and sharply drained (xeriscape)
USDA zone (lowest) 6   (down to -23°C)
WINTER PROTECTION  
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Perennials
Summer blooms
Evergreen broadleaf
náhled fotonáhled fotonáhled foto

Italian strawflower is an evergreen Mediterranean aromatic semi-woody perennial, sometimes classified as a shrub like lavender, with which it is easily confused before flowers appear. Its common name curry plant, as well as the smell of crushed foliage suggests it has to do something with curry but don’t believe it. It only smells similar which makes it a culinary plant but don't expect an identical taste nor color of true curry. Gourmets usually recommend using the whole twigs that are best removed before consumption because the plant itself does not have a pleasant taste after heat treatment.

Italian strawflower is predominantly cultivated as an ornamental plant. Its evergreen leaves are thin, grey-blue-green and densely covered with tiny hairs thanks to which they appear silvery and give the plant the fluffy appearance so typical of Mediterranean landscape. From late June rise 50 to 60 cm tall thin stems topped with dome-shaped corymbs composed of small, deep yellow flowers, which resemble the discs of chamomile flowers. You can combine strawflower with other drought-loving herbs in small beds, or use its fine texture to soften borders with taller drought-loving shrubs (buddleja, caryopteris, perovskia, etc.), prairie perennials (coneflowers, beebalms, tickseeds, verbenas etc.), and drought-loving ornamental grasses (stipa, festuca, panicum).

Pruning is the same as for lavenders – prune hard in early spring after all frosts, cut it back to about a quarter of the length of previous year's branches. If you fail to do so in spring, you will have another chance in summer after flowering. This pruning has the advantage that in the following spring you will have a nice bush already that will bloom earlier. But the downside is that at the peak season of summer you will be looking at a trimmed plant for a few weeks before it re-grows.

Strawflower is absolutely undemanding provided you choose a suitable location. It needs perfectly drained soil in which the roots will not rot in winter. It loves sandy ground or rockeries. Plant it in full sun only – it loves heat and drought and hates watering. It responds well to soil nutrients but does not require feeding. It prefers alkaline to neutral soil. It is not suitable for gardens with clay soil which is present in most of Czechia, unfortunately. But in free-draining conditions it can survive down to -23 °C (USDA zone 6) as in our garden.

Last update 28-09-2022
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Helichrysum italicum
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GLOSSARY
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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