How To Care For and Grow Heliotrope Plants

Heliotrope (Genus name: Heliotropium) is a seasonal flowering plant producing clusters of blue or purple blooms punctuating its dark green foliage.

These small plants are named after a Grecian plant that may or may not still exist, known for turning its flowers to track the Sun.

Growing HeliotropePin

Though the Heliotrope described here does not follow the Sun, it does appear to respond to sunlight.

The Heliotrope is known for its ability to thrive in the wild and produce a range of strong but pleasant aromas.

They are low-maintenance, fragrant, and can thrive in movable containers.

Heliotropes are also known by several common names:

  • Garden Heliotropes
  • Cherry Pie Flower

Quick Facts On Heliotrope

  • Family: Heliotropium
  • Light: Bright or direct light (prefers 6 hours)
  • Temperature: 60° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water: Maintain even moisture with no standing water
  • Fertilizer: Regular fertilization
  • Propagation: Seeds, but other methods can also be successful
  • Common Problems: Spider mites and aphids

Heliotrope Care

How Big Do Garden Heliotrope Plants Grow?

These unique wild flowering plants will grow to a height of between 1′ and 2′ feet in clusters measuring 1′ and 2′ feet in width. 

These proportions will vary greatly when the Heliotrope grows wild.

They have an upright growth pattern with flower clusters appearing at the top of the shoots, but they will spread out to cover a wider area if permitted.

These proportions make them well suited to keeping in portable pots but adaptable enough to do well anywhere they happen to grow.

When Do Garden Heliotropes Flower? Are The Flowers Fragrant?

They tend to flower in the morning to make the most of the available sunlight and are known to be extremely fragrant.

Heliotropes are so fragrant that they are commonly discovered outdoors by smell before being seen.

What Are The Lighting Needs And Temperature Requirements?

These plants are known as “full sun” plants. This is why when they grow outdoors, they are most often seen sprawling in wide open areas such as in the middle of a lawn. 

Heliotropes like at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. They can survive with much less but will not flourish outside a sun-rich setting. 

They like hot climates and have adapted to get the most out of the sunniest period of the day.

This is part of the reason it is recommended that they be kept in portable containers. 

This way, they can be moved to the sunniest spots as the light changes throughout the day.

How And When To Water And Cherry Pie Flowers?

Cherry Pie Flowers like a lot of water. The soil should be kept evenly moist but not water-logged.

There should be no standing water around the base of the plant, and do not let these plants dry out as they are adapted to warm climates and will absorb water quickly.

If you keep Heliotropes in pots, they will need to be watered more frequently.

These plants are known to be heavy feeders and must be fertilized regularly during the growing season.

Add fertilizer once a month in the garden and every two weeks for potted Heliotropes.

What Is The Best Soil For Cherry Pie Heliotrope And When Should You Transplant?

These flowering plants prefer rich, loamy soil that drains well but holds on to some water.

The pH should be somewhere between 6.6 and 7.3. Heliotropes do not like soil that is heavy with clay.

If the soil in your area has a lot of clay, it is best to grow Heliotropes in pots or replace the ground soil with curated soil.

Does Heliotrope Need Special Grooming Or Maintenance?

Heliotropes are considered to be low to medium maintenance plants. They need little care to thrive in the wild as long as conditions are ideal.

However, they can benefit from light pruning regularly. This is especially true when they are kept in pots.

Regular deadheading and pinching will encourage the plant to grow more thickly and to bloom more often.

How To Propagate Garden Heliotrope?

There are many ways to propagate garden heliotrope plants. The easiest and most popular way to grow Heliotropes is from seed.

However, they can be propagated using other methods, such as:

  • Rooting pot
  • Tip cuttings
  • Semi-ripe cuttings
  • Humidity tents
  • Seed germination

For seed germination, do the following:

  • Fill a tray with seed germination mix, water the mix, and drain the excess water.
  • Sparingly sprinkle seeds on the top of the mix and cover them lightly with soil.
  • Then, seal the tray in a large, clear plastic bag.
  • Place the tray in bright but indirect light, maintaining a temperature between 64° and 75° degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove the plastic when seedlings begin to emerge.

Heliotrope Pests And Diseases

Heliotropes are not especially susceptible to pests or disease, but they have a few natural enemies.

These include:

  • Mealy Bugs: Can cause leaf discoloration and early dropping. Mealybugs can be killed with neem oil.
  • Spider Mites: Create white webbing that covers the plant and feeds on the plant, causing leaf discoloration. They can be killed with horticultural oils or insecticidal soap.
  • Whiteflies: Tend to gather on the underside of leaves. They consume the sap, causing leaf death and stunted growth, and can best be controlled by introducing ladybugs into your garden.
  • Aphids: These common garden pests gather under leaves and feed on the sap causing stunted and distorted growth. They can be controlled with ladybugs, washing the plant with a garden hose, and using insecticidal soap.

Heliotrope FAQs

Is The Heliotrope Plant Considered Toxic Or Poisonous To People, Kids, Or Pets?

These plants are known to be toxic to cats and dogs. In the short term, they cause gastric distress in grazing animals like cows, horses, and goats.

The toxicity of the poison contained in Heliotropes becomes serious after the plant has been eaten in large quantities over an extended period.

The plant contains a slow-acting liver toxin that damages the liver.

Cows are the most susceptible and often die from eating these plants throughout the season.

Heliotropes should be removed from grazing areas and locations where pets may eat grass. They should also be kept out of the reach of small children.

Is The Heliotrope Plant Considered Invasive?

Heliotropes are not considered to be invasive. Even at their largest, they tend to remain contained to a two-by-four-foot area.

Suggested Heliotrope Uses

Heliotropes are always a pleasant surprise when found in the wild.

They are an excellent choice for lining paths in a garden, decoration for larger features, or an attractive splash of color in low-laying areas.

They can do well indoors or semi-indoors, as potted plants.

They respond well to pruning and can be enjoyed as a decorative flourish indoors as long as they can be provided with proper watering and plenty of sunlight.