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An old-fashioned, hardy annual that has seen a resurgence in popularity, the heliotrope often is found by scent rather than by sight. Colorful clusters of small purple or blue blooms top off darker green foliage. Gardeners can’t seem to agree on its sweet scent; some think it smells like vanilla, others claim it smells like baby powder, grapes, or cherry pie.
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garden plans for Heliotrope
The abundant flower clusters bring a splash of color in a container garden or a flower bed. The most common color seen is a deep, rich purple. But when you look closely at the blooms, it's several shades of purple with tiny yellow centers. Many of the most common varieties claim to be blue flowers, however they are usually a fairly solid purple, and not quite a true blue. There are also some white variations of these blooms, as well as some pale lavenders to go along with the deeper purple shades.
Long, deeply veined leaves provide textural foliage that acts as a backdrop for the fragrant blooms. Overall, the plant is nice and shrubby. In a tropical setting, plants can reach up to three- to four-feet tall and wide. These shrubs can be almost completely covered in blooms during summer, and create quite a "scent-sation."
How to Grow Heliotrope Plants
A heliotrope is easy to grow. Plants are generally happy with full sun and moderate moisture but can tolerate a bit of shade. In a shadier spot, some of the blooming potential is diminished. One of the best ways to use heliotrope is in containers. This way, the plants can be moved around so their sweet fragrance can be enjoyed soften. A heliotrope is also great to plant in groups to maximize their fragrance as it can be fairly subtle at times.
Because the flowers bloom in large clusters, they may need some periodic removal or deadheading of old blossoms to extend their bloom. This is also a good time to prune back the plant to encourage bushy growth development.
As a whole, the heliotrope is fairly problem free, however in a very humid summer, if planted in some shade, it can be susceptible to powdery mildew. This appears on the foliage of the plants as a powdery white substance. This generally will not kill the plant, but it can slow the plant's growth and is unsightly. To help prevent this, plant heliotrope in as much sun as possible, and make sure there is good airflow around the plants. Also, avoid getting the foliage wet when watering, especially in the evening.