How to Plant and Grow Licorice Plant

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

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 prevents pests from bothering the plant.

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.

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

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 Division, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Where to Plant Licorice Plant

While it's most commonly grown as an annual, licorice plant is a woody tropical perennial that is winter hardy in Zones 9–11. In the rest of the country, either plant it as an annual or in a container that can be moved inside in cold temperatures. Licorice plant is useful at the front of sunny beds and borders and can be planted on slopes for erosion control. It also is a good choice for containers and hanging baskets.

Invasive Plant

Be careful in the warmest zones of the United States 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 or select another plant. In California, the licorice plant has been declared invasive and should not be planted there.

How and When to Plant Licorice Plant

Plant licorice plant seeds (if you can find them) in late autumn in a greenhouse or the house to develop plants that can go into the garden when the weather warms the following spring. Gardeners who prefer to buy nursery plants should put them out in the garden at the same time they put out tomato plants. If you have a potted licorice plant, you can take stem cuttings and root them in water timed for a late spring planting outside.

In the garden, dig a hole as deep as your plant's nursery pot. Remove the plant from the pot and loosen the soil around the roots. Place the plant in the hole and backfill with soil. Space multiple plants about 30 inches apart. Water new plants well to settle the soil around roots and help the plants get established.

licorice plant helichrysum
Peter Krumhardt

Licorice Plant Care Tips


Licorice plant is a fast grower and likes as much sun as possible. In part shade, plants can become leggy and need pruning to keep from looking messy. Also, shade-grown plants don't look quite as silvery, as the hairs are not as dense when the plant grows in the shade.

Soil and Water

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, the plant may begin to rot. Once the plant is established, it's drought-tolerant, although it prefers regular watering.

Temperature and Humidity

Licorice plants grow best in dry, hot environments that receive little rainfall. They don't tolerate any frost. Bring in the plants before the first frost to winter them over, or take stem cuttings to begin a new crop for the following spring.


Licorice plants are tolerant of many soil conditions and don't require much fertilizer, but if the soil is poor, add compost or organic material to enrich it. Then, a mid-season application of a balanced fertilizer is all the plants need. For the amount to use, follow product label instructions.


Licorice plant handles pruning well. It's a good idea to give trailing varieties a pinch early in their growth to encourage good branching.

Potting and Repotting Licorice Plant

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 the plant as a spiller, check its habit before purchasing. Repot a licorice plant yearly in a somewhat large container being careful not to disturb the roots.

Pests and Problems

Licorice plant is relatively pest-free, but watch for aphids, spider mites and whiteflies, all of which can be treated with neem oil.

This plant likes hot, dry weather. If the plant is grown in a wet area, it may develop root rot. If water stands on its leaves or the plant grows in an area with high humidity, botrytis can occur.

How to Propagate Licorice Plant

Licorice plant can be propagated by seeds, stem cuttings and root divisions.

In early spring in all but the warmest zones, prepare seeds by soaking them in water for 24 hours. Then, sow the seeds on top of a seed-starting mix and don't cover them. Supply bottom heat at about 68°F, and seedlings should appear two to three weeks later. Wait until the weather warms to set them out in the garden. In Zones 9—11, sow seeds outside in early spring in a full sun site. Cover them lightly with sand to keep them from blowing away or being eaten by birds.

If you have a licorice plant and want more just like it, take stem cuttings or root divisions for an exact duplicate of this hybrid plant. Take 6-inch stem cuttings and remove the leaves from the bottom half. Dip it into rooting hormone and settle it in a small pot of moist potting soil. Mist it every day and tug on it slightly in a couple of weeks to determine whether it is rooted.

The hands-down easiest way to make more licorice plants is to divide one. Use a sharp shovel and cut a mature plant into four sections, each containing a portion of leaves and roots. Replant the divisions immediately.

Types of Licorice Plant

'Icicles' Licorice Plant

icicles licorice vine
Jason Wilde

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

'Lemon Licorice' Licorice Plant

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 Plant

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 Plant

silver mist licorice vine
Marty Baldwin

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

Licorice Plant Companion Plants


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 1–2 feet 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

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 for 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does a licorice plant live?

    In areas where it grows as a perennial, licorice plant can live for up to 10 years under the right conditions. Plants in colder zones that are taken in during winter and set back out each spring usually don't live that long but can last at least three years if they receive the warmth they need during the winter.

  • Do licorice plants self-seed in the garden?

    When a licorice plant is grown in optimal conditions, it self-seeds freely. However, most of the resulting plants won't be identical to the parent. Instead, take stem cuttings to propagate identical plants.

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  1. Helichrysum petiole, California Invasive Plant Council

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