Dead or Alive?

“Dead or Alive?”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


How do you know a plant is dead?  Well, that seems like an easy question to answer, but I, who have been gardening for years, am unsure about one of my curry plants.  How do you tell when a gray foliage plant is dead? 

I put in four curry plants in the spring, and one of them is not doing too well.  I think because of the heat and dry weather it is at best struggling and may even be dead.  The one curry plant I planted last year is doing very well, but, then again, it is better established.

I can still see some gray-green in some of the stems the sick curry plant (which gives me hope) even though the leaves look pretty far gone.  Here are some close-ups of a few stems.


Curry Plant Clsp I (redu)


Curry Plant Clsp II (redu)


Here is what the whole plant looks like. 


Curry Plant Sick (redu)


Pretty pathetic, huh?  I am thinking that maybe the heat stressed this particular one more than the others, and then, maybe, with having to water so much earlier in the summer, it didn’t like that.  I know that most gray-colored foliage plants do not like a lot of humidity which is why so many melt in our humid summers.  But last year’s plant has thrived. 

Here is what another curry plant that was also put in this spring  looks like; it is doing so much better.  To be fair, this afternoon’s shower does make this look greener than it actually is.


Curry Plant Alive (redu)


The reason I am hesitating to pull this one out is that I have planted the four curry plants equidistant in a flower bed, and taking one out would ruin the symmetry.

So, what do you think?  Am I not facing reality?  Is this plant a goner?  Should I give it some more time before yanking it out, or should I just accept that this particular curry plant is not going to recover, and I need to pull it out now?



  1. Janet said,

    July 7, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Can you prune it back a good bit? With drought conditions most plants die from the tips back….so lessen the amount of plant the roots need to hydrate. Good luck, it may not a be a showpiece for a while — but perhaps you will save it.

    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 7:04 am

      Janet it probably is a good idea to trim it back, esp. the parts I see are dried up and dead.

  2. Patty said,

    July 7, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Seems like I see a little green in the picture. I think I would give it an ultimatum that it must improve in two weeks and see if it obliges.

    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 7:05 am

      I just may do that, Patty. It worked when I threatened a non-blooming plant into blooming. I’ll have to practice my threatening voice.

  3. July 8, 2009 at 1:27 am

    I would second Janets suggestion and prune it – they if it has not caught up next year replace it

    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 7:06 am

      Looks like I will be trimming this one back and then wait to see it it still makes it.

  4. Lars said,

    July 8, 2009 at 5:35 am

    If there is a little green still there, I’d give it some more time. Now that you are getting rain, maybe it will perk up.

    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 7:10 am

      Looks like everyone so far is encouraging me to keep this plant a little longer, Lars. I am hoping it pulls through.

  5. PattiG said,

    July 8, 2009 at 5:40 am

    I say give it a few more weeks. What have you got to lose. You are right though about how hard it is to tell if a non green plant is dead or not.

    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 7:11 am

      Patti, maybe I do need to be more patient esp. now that the rains have started. We are still over 9 inches below our normal rain total for the year.

  6. sallysmom said,

    July 8, 2009 at 6:31 am

    I’ve never seen curry for sale. Where did you get it?

    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 7:13 am

      This curry plant smells like the curry spice, but it is not used for cooking. Curry used in cooking is a blend of spices. The nurseries here in South Louisiana started carrying it last year. I bought one plant to see how it would do, and it thrived, even surviving the winter. This year I bought four more plants because I loved the gray foliage. I wrote about this plant last year. If you want to read that post, click here.

  7. Jean said,

    July 8, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Trimming might help but if it does, it still may never catch up and your symmetry may still be ruined. I would trim it, start looking for a replacement plant, and if worse comes to worse, try rearranging the three surviving plants in the fall. Sometimes plants that we put in the ground come with built-in problems from their life at the nursery. Unfortunately!

    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 6:58 pm

      Jean, I think I will cut it back but look for a replacement just in case it doesn’t make it.

  8. Jake said,

    July 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I agree with eveyrone else, prune back and wait to see if it returns. It may not even return until next year which does suck.


    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 6:56 pm

      Jake, looks like I’ll be cutting this back tomorrow.

  9. tina said,

    July 8, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    I say give it some more time or maybe nick a stem and see if it is green underneath the bark. It sure is pretty. Gray plants are faves of mine.

    • Jan said,

      July 8, 2009 at 6:56 pm

      Tina, I can see that a few stalks are alive, I guess I will cut back what looks dead and hope for the best.

  10. fairegarden said,

    July 9, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Hi Jan, scanning throught the comments it seems you have decided to trim it back and give it a stern talking to. But if you are not happy because of the design you are trying to achieve, can a replacement be found and the sick one be put in the intensive care unit? Just a though. 🙂

    • Jan said,

      July 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm

      I just checked again today,Francis, and I think I need to replace it. It just looks too bad now.

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