Licorice Plant

Often grown as an annual, this trailing plant is actually a woody tropical perennial in places that don't freeze.

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The soft colors and textures of licorice plant make it a pleasing backdrop for more brightly colored blossoms. This plant has small leaves and thin stems, but it is much tougher than it looks. It will thrive in hot, humid weather and tolerates drought well. Plus, its fuzzy, scented foliage prevent pests from bothering the plant.

Licorice Plant Overview

Genus Name Helichrysum
Common Name Licorice Plant
Plant Type Annual, Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 2 feet
Flower Color White
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Chartreuse/Gold, Gray/Silver
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11, 9
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Colorful Combinations

Generally, licorice plant comes in silver or white, but it can also be found in soft hues of green, gold, or variegated foliage. It gets its pale coloring from numerous dense hairs covering all parts of the plant. These hairs are white and give the plant a soft texture, perfect for curious kids (and adults) to touch.

licorice plant helichrysum
Peter Krumhardt

Licorice Plant Care Must-Knows

While it's most commonly grown as an annual, licorice plant is actually a woody tropical perennial. Licorice plant is a fast grower and likes as much sun as possible. In part shade, plants can become leggy and need more pruning to keep from looking messy. Also, shade-grown plants won't look quite as silvery, as the hairs are not as dense when grown in the shade.

In the summer heat, this plant's leaves may occasionally exude the smell of licorice, hence its common name.

When looking for a home for your licorice plant, make sure to plant it in well-drained soil. Licorice plant doesn't appreciate sitting in too much water. If it does, your plant may begin to rot. Once your plant is established, it's drought-tolerant, though it prefers regular watering.

Because this plant is a perennial, it won't bloom unless you live in a tropical environment and can overwinter it. If it does bloom, the flowers are small and white. Be careful in more tropical locations in the U.S. because this plant can reseed itself and become mildly invasive. If that is a problem in your region, remove the flowers, which aren't very ornamental anyway.

This plant's semi-trailing or cascading growth habit works well in containers and hanging baskets. Some varieties have a more upright habit, so if you intend to use it as a spiller, check a plant's habit before purchasing. Licorice plant handles pruning well; it's a good idea to give trailing varieties a pinch early in their growth to encourage good branching.

More Varieties of Licorice Plant

'Icicles' licorice vine

icicles licorice vine
Jason Wilde

Helichrysum 'Icicles' bears threadlike silvery foliage on upright 2-foot-tall plants. Zones 9-11

'Lemon Licorice' licorice vine

lemon licorice licorice vine
Peter Krumhardt

This variety bears silvery-chartreuse foliage and can grow to 2 feet wide in containers. Zones 9-11

'Petite Licorice' licorice vine

petite licorice licorice vine
Denny Schrock

Helichrysum 'Petite Licorice' is a dwarf form with smaller leaves and grows only about 1 foot wide. Zones 9-11

'Silver Mist' licorice vine

silver mist licorice vine
Marty Baldwin

This cultivar bears small leaves on wiry stems and has a more upright, mounding habit. Zones 9-11

Licorice Plant Companion Plants

Angelonia

white angelonia blooms
David Speer

Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and you'll know why once you get a good look at it. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach a foot or 2 high, studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers with beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. It's the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces.

This tough plant blooms all summer long. While all varieties are beautiful, keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections. While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it's a tough perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can even keep it flowering all winter.

Gerbera Daisy

red gerbera daisies
Marty Baldwin

Gerbera daisies are so perfect they hardly look real. They bloom in nearly every color (except true blues and purples) and produce large flowers on long, thick, sturdy stems. They last for a week or more in a vase, making them a favorite of flower arrangers.

This tender perennial will only survive the winter in the country's warmest parts, Zones 9-11. In the rest of the country, it's grown as an annual. It does well in average soil, and it likes soil kept evenly moist but not overly wet. Fertilize lightly.

Ornamental Peppers

red ornamental peppers
RJT LLC

Heat up your garden with ornamental peppers! Much like hot peppers you would grow in the veggie garden, ornamental peppers produce colorful little fruits that are round or pointed. But these are so attractive in their own right that they can be grown just for show—not eating. Though the peppers are indeed edible, usually, their flavor is lacking compared to peppers grown for the table.

Depending on the variety, the peppers appear in shades of white, purple, red, orange, and yellow -- often with multiple colors on the same plant. They like rich, well-drained soil that is evenly moist.

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