One Tough Plant

“One Tough Plant”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Silver or gray colored leaf plants are always a great addition to the garden. Plants like lamb’s ears, dusty miller, artemisia, etc. are wonderful plants, but, unfortunately, here in the hot, humid South, they often do not do well and can die pretty quickly if we have a lot of rain and heat. In the summer of 2008, I found a silver-leafed plant that did very well in the garden. It was curry plant (helichrysum italicum). I only bought one to see how it would do, and, if it survived, I would try more. It did survive the summer and winter of 2008-09. It did so well, that in the spring of 2009 I bought six more to plant in the same garden bed with the original one. Only five were needed in the bed with the original, and so the extra one went in another area that was not quite as sunny.

Unfortunately, the June of 2009 was one of the hottest and driest Junes we have ever had, and the curry plants planted in the sunny bed ended up being toast. The lone survivor ended up being the extra plant that was in a less sunny area.

Fast forward to this winter, one of the coldest and wettest we have had in almost twenty years. How did the little curry plant do? Just fine. When other plants that have never frozen back before got nipped back badly, this plant which wasn’t even mulched very much came through just fine.



Now, it is a little worse the wear for having had a tough winter, but going on past experience, it should be putting out new growth as soon as the temps warm up a bit more and look even better in a short while. The next photo shows this same plant last summer, and I would expect it to do even better this summer.



I think I have found the secret to this plant. Here, in the Deep South, it probably cannot take full sun but needs a little shade. I will be buying more of this plant to add some of this lovely, silver color in the garden. Just goes to show that gardening consists of a lot of trial and error.


  1. garden mary said,

    March 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Looks like this could be a good silver leafed plant for the south or anywhere. I’ll have to look for it come springtime.

  2. Sally said,

    March 2, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I have never seen this plant before, but it does look interesting. Every time I have planted lamb’s ears they melt in the heat. Maybe this would be a good substitute.

  3. Janet said,

    March 2, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I have not used curry plant in my garden, but I sure like silver plants. Will have to give it a try.

  4. Jean said,

    March 2, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Good info Jan. I’ve seen that plant in the nursery but wasn’t sure how well it would do here. I’m with you on Lamb’s Ear. It was only marginally successful for me in Austin so I figured the humidity in LA would be too much. So maybe Curry Plant is the ticket.

  5. Sylvia (England) said,

    March 3, 2010 at 3:30 am

    Jan, your climate seems really challenging. I am glad that you have found one plant that will grow but surprised at your list of plants that will not! Though it is the wet that can kill these plants here as well. Writing about what will and will not grow has helped me to understand your climate. This is what I love about blogs the detail about individual gardens.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  6. roundrockgarden said,

    March 3, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I bought a couple of curry plants last year as ornamentals in my herb garden. They smell wonderful and did quite well despite the record heat and drought we experienced last summer. I just trimmed them back a couple weeks ago to give the other herbs more light, but they are definitely an easy and attractive plant.

  7. Nell Jean said,

    March 3, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I haven’t tried curry plant, but bought licorice plant, Helichrysum petiolare, last summer. It’s hard to 25 degrees, but I kept it under glass for the winter, just in case. It has little round leaves. Have you tried it?

    The only sure thing I grow that is grey is good ol’ rose campion. New plants appear in the most curious places!

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