One of the essential elements for many ethnic Indian recipes is curry leaves. If you’re fortunate enough to have a curry leaf plant (member of the Rutaceae family) in your kitchen garden, you already know how crucial it is to flourish and generate new, fragrant leaves.
However, you may often wish you had more leaves to use in your cooking. Like many herbs, the curry tree can attract pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden. Besides this, you can carry out regular pruning of your curry leaf plant, and it will encourage further optimal growth.
Couple this with the ideal growing conditions, and you can find more branches full of precious curry leaves. While the native region for this plant is Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and other tropical areas; for food and their medicinal properties; thus growing in warm, dry environments can be ideal for many gardeners.
Most novice curry leaf plant owners are reluctant to prune their plants. They don’t cut the plant down to grow a large curry leaf tree. Many waits before cutting until the curry leaf plant is too big or leaning.
In our guide, you can learn the secret of pruning curry plants to encourage them to grow larger. By the end, you’ll know more than how to prune leaves; you’ll learn how to care for the plants, so you have the best growth possible. (Learn How To Prune Arborvitae)
Should I Prune My Curry Plant?
When your curry plant grows to a minimum height of 12 inches, prune it. Pruning encourages branching and bushiness and prevents legginess in the curry leaf plant. The branches of mature plants with flowers should ideally be pruned because the blossoms eat up the plant’s energy that they can use to produce more leaves.
Winter trimming should be avoided because it can harm the plant. Lastly, give a recently transplanted curry leaf plant at least two to three weeks before pruning. Remember, a curry leaf plant won’t produce leaves on old wood. Once existing leaves are harvested or die down, no new leaves grow in that part of the curry plant.
The plant will grow tall or require new branches to produce new leaves. Pruning is essential for producing more leaves, keeping your curry leaf plant healthy, and looking its best.
However, one common problem people face for pruning a curry leaf tree is the timing and when to do it. Besides this, there is the act of pruning and doing this incorrectly.
Now you can see how to prune seedlings and plants up to their height of two feet tall. It will offer you lots of leaves, but you’ll need to take it indoors in the case of harsh winters.
Where Do I Prune A Curry Leaf Plant?
You can prune a curry plant quite easily using a few straightforward procedures. Use sharp scissors or clippers cleaned with bleach or rubbing alcohol before and after use. Here are a few tips on how to prune your Sri Lankan curry plant for the best results.
1. Removing Dead or Dying Leaves.
The plant will suffer additional damage if its dry, lifeless, or yellow leaves are left on it. Snap the dead leaflets off the stem instead to eliminate them.
2. Trim Dead or Diseased Branches.
Start at the tip of the plant stem and examine it. If the stem appears dead or brown, follow it until you notice a dark green hue.
Bend the branch toward the plant’s main stem if you are unsure whether it is dead. For example, the branch is dead if it snaps when it breaks, yet it won’t break if it’s alive. Cut off dead or infected branches to promote new growth.
3. Pick Your Trimming Point.
According to gardening experts, the top third to half of the curry leaf plant’s growth should be removed.
Even though your curry plant will be fine, it can feel too much for new gardeners. However, the curry leaf plant will repay you with many lateral branches and new green leafy growth of pointed leaves in just a few weeks.
- Remove the growth above the stem before it is thick as a pencil for the larger, more mature curry leaf trees.
- Watch out for branches that emerge from the plant’s main stem and cross other branches. You can open up the plant from the center by cutting these crisscrossing branches, promoting more air circulation, and reducing the likelihood of pest infestation.
- Make a 45-degree cut in the branch using a pair of precise pruning shears.
- On the cut, apply honey and cinnamon paste. Besides providing an injection of growth hormones to promote new shoots to grow, the mixture will protect the cut region from infection.
- Remember to wipe the scissor blades with an alcohol wipe after each cut to stop any infection from spreading.
- For all stems, repeat step 2
- Repeat the previous step on one plant until all the branches you want to trim have been removed.
- Vary the height of each cut on a mature curry leaf plant with several stems, so the new growth has plenty of room to spread out without irritating other branches.
How often should you prune a curry leaf plant?
Although pruning a curry leaf plant has several advantages, you shouldn’t prune or harvest leaves from a young curry leaf plant. If you need to prune a small, immature plant, wait for 6 to 9 months. (Learn How To Prune Palm Trees)
Make it a habit of picking the leaves from the top of your curry leaf plant by pinching the stem off 3 to 5 inches deep if it is older than three years old or has numerous branches. The plants spontaneously produce new side branches if the top leaves are pruned off.
Before cutting or harvesting from the same stem again, give it a few months. One tip is to try rooting cuttings after you prune. If they take, it will offer faster growth than trying to grow your curry tree from seeds.
How to use curry leaves
Now that you trimmed your curry leaf plant, most likely, you will end up with plenty of fresh curry leaves. So what can you do with these curry leaves?
Here are some ideas:
- Use fresh curry leaves in Indian recipes along with curry powder.
- Fresh curry leaves can garnish dishes.
- You can grind curry leaves with other herbs.
- You can use curry leaves to make tee: Add fresh or dried leaves in hot water with a teabag and steep for a few minutes.
- Uses of Dried curry leaves:
- If you have too many curry leaves, you can dry them and use them later. Dried curry leaves can be used to make many recipes rathee than fresh curry leaves.
- You can use curry leaves to make a hair mask and tonic.
When Should You Prune The Curry Leaf Plant?
The optimal time to prune a curry leaf plant is when it is actively growing in the early spring, summer growing season, and early fall. When your curry leaf plant is getting ready for the cooler months in the late fall and Winter, avoid pruning it. During these times, pruning curry plants could shock them and damage new growth.
1. Prune and Care For A Curry Plant
Start pruning using a sharp pruner to remove old leaves.
Make a clean diagonal cut 1/3rd from the top of the plant.
Pruning curry leaf plant branches is one crucial step. You’ll get more branches and leaves if you prune the plant.
Pinch branch tips when young and have multiple branches to encourage your curry leaves.
Repot in a bigger pot so it has enough room to grow larger.
2. After Pruning Applying Fertilizer
Young curry plants shouldn’t have too much fertilizer and apply the fertilizer to the pot’s rim rather than round the base of the plant.
Fertilizer around the curry plant’s canopy permiter if cultivated underground.
Every third to the fourth week, treat the curry leaf plant with a liquid fertilizer to encourage the growth of new leaves.
Give 3 teaspoons of iron sulfate or 1 teaspoon of iron chelate every 4–5 weeks to maintain healthy foliage.
Prepare fertilizer by dissolving 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt in 1 liter of water, then feed the plants to help grow curry leaves faster. By doing this, the plant will grow green leaves in the spring, summer, and fall. Feed every three months starting in the early spring once frosts are finished.
You can use buttermilk as fertilizer, and for curry leaf plants, diluted curd is thought to be the best natural fertilizer.
It is also important to water regularly after pruning to keep the soil moist yet not too wet, or your plants could suffer root rot significantly if you are growing in a pot.
Besides this, ensure your plants get six hours or more of full sun; just don’t let the soil dry.
3. Plant in The Ground For Rapid Growth
In comparison to a plant that is planted in the ground, the one that is in a pot grows more slowly.
We gain more branches and leaves as the plant grows larger.
Whether planted in a pot or in the ground, it still needs pruning and fertilizing.
4. Pluck Flower Buds To Deliver More Energy
When flower buds grow on plant branches, remove them.
This will conserve the plant energy used to grow new leaves. If not, the plant produces more flowers you don’t want.
After Pruning in the Spring, you’ll need to care for the curry leaves plant come to the Winter. It is also time to hang your stems in a dark place to dry, so they are ready for use in the kitchen all year round.
Winter Dormancy is when curry leaves plants slumber. Winter prevents the curry leaf plant from getting full sunshine; leaves suffer from cold temperatures. Yellowing leaves (chlorosis) show it’s into winter dormancy.
Because of the cold, all leaves will fall from the plant. This is common with your Curry leaf plant in Winter.
Preparing Curry Plant for Winter
The main thing you need to think about is cutting back on watering plants till the conclusion of the winter season.
- The plant should be brought inside and placed next to a south-facing window. This will provide plants with a warm environment and adequate sunlight.
- Put the curry leaf plant in direct sunshine during the day and bring it inside at night to protect it from the cold.
- Taking care of the curry plant is necessary if it is all that is left of the plant, with no leaves. If not, the plant can perish.
- By bringing your plant indoors and placing it close to a window, you can raise the plant’s temperature.
- Instead of using cold water, use warm water.
- The temperature of the curry leaves the plant will be maintained.
- If you give the curry plant less sunlight when you have the plant inside, the leaves will bend downward and curl. (use artificial lights)
According to experts, growing curry leaves plant in full sunlight with temperatures greater than or equal to 40F will grow the best outcomes.
How Do You Make A Curry Leaf Bushier?
New growth is encouraged by pruning. The branch tip (apical bud) produces hormones, and when you trim a branch’s tip, you eliminate its apical bud. When the apical bud is gone, the side buds grow more swiftly, causing the plant to push out new growth from the sides.
Pruning makes the plant bushier
By pruning the branch tip, the plant will grow lateral shoots to fill the hole left by the main stem. In addition, side shoots will grow into new branches, making the plant bushier.
Pruning makes plants grow more leaves
Each branch makes leaflets. Thus, more branches equal more leaves on the plant. (Learn How To Prune Irises)
Pruning reduces plant size.
In non-tropical areas, curry leaves are cultivated in pots. Regular pruning keeps plants from outgrowing their pots and growing areas.
Pruning enhances curry leaves plant health.
Pruning removes dead stems and leaves, improving air circulation. Crossed branches are eliminated when pruning the curry leaf plant so they don’t rub against one other and scar the outer layer, which may give bugs and bacterial spores to access plant tissues.