GROWING AND SAVING THE SEED OF HELIOTROPE
Latin name Heliotropium arborescens is a temperate perennial that is grown as an annual as it cannot handle frost. Flowers are beloved for their intoxicating, vanilla-like fragrance. Attractive to butterflies. Popular bedding or container plant.
Native to the mountainous tropical regions of Peru. This once-popular cottage garden flower fell out of favor and is slowly coming back into the landscape as a sweetly scented pop of purple color.
- Beds, borders, containers, window boxes, cottage garden, fragrant/sensory gardens.
- NOTE: All parts of the plant are poisonous.
- Seeds germinate in 28-42 days.
- Start indoors 10-12 weeks before last frost date, then transplant out after all danger of frost has passed and soil has reliably warmed to 60 F.
- Ideal germination temperature is 70-75 F.
- Plants grow best in full sun to part shade, especially when they are protected from the hot afternoon sun.
- Plants require rich, loamy, well-drained soil and consistent moisture, as they are not drought tolerant.
- Space plants 12 inches apart.
- Keep flowers deadheaded.
- When grown indoors, heliotrope can have issues with spider mites, which can be treated with insecticidal soap.
- If grown in excessively hot, humid conditions, heliotrope may suffer from fungal disease.
- Where winters are mild, therefore, it should be grown as a winter flower.
- NOTE: They cannot tolerate frost.
- Most gardeners will root cuttings and grow over winter to get a jump start on spring. You can save seeds.
- Allow the flowerhead containing the seeds to mature completely and dry on the plant, then clip it off and place it in a container.
- Working over the top of another clean, opened container, rub the flowerheads between the palms, breaking them apart.
- The seeds can be separated from the chaff by first screening and then winnowing.
- Store in a cool, dry, dark place over winter.