Heliotrope, Heliotropium Arborescens: Spectacular Vanilla Fragrance


Photo Compliments Of Carl Lewis

Heliotropium arborescens, or more commonly referred to as heliotrope is a tender perennial, annual really, that grows 1 to 2 feet tall.  In most U.S. locations it is grown as a summer annual bedding plant, or container plant. Overwintered container plants may grow taller. This plant is an old garden favorite.  The calling card for this plant are the sweetly vanilla fragrant, tiny violet flowers that are arranged in large showy clusters which bloom summer to fall.  Leaves are oval, dark green (3 inches in length) and are prominently veined.

How To Make Your Heliotrope Thrive

Heliotrope thrives in Zones 10 and 11 so it is considered an annual in most parts of the country.  You will get your best results when this plant is grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun. Plants appreciate some afternoon shade in hot summer climates however. Soils should not be allowed to dry out.

If you pinch back stems you will encourage bushy growth. Deadheading spent flowers will encourage additional bloom. Bedding plants can be allowed to die each fall, with new plants purchased or raised from seed each spring. Larger potted or container plants may be overwintered in bright cool locations. Cuttings can be taken from garden plants in late summer for overwintering if desired.

General Heliotrope Information

Diseases And Pests

There are no serious insect or disease problems. You should, however, be watching for whiteflies, spider mites, aphids and mealybugs, particularly on overwintering plants.

Garden Uses

You can grow heliotrope as a bedding plant, or as an edging plant. You can use it in containers as a rounded shrub, or trained as a standard. Consider it for hanging baskets, window boxes, or as a summer houseplant.

Quick Facts

  • Family: Boraginaceae
  • Common Name: Heliotrope
  • Type: Annual in most of the U.S.
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 9 to 11 (Annual for most of the U.S. regions)
  • Mature Height: 14 to 18 inches
  • Mature Spread: 12 to 15 inches
  • Blooming Season: June to September
  • Bloom Description: Violet
  • Exposure: Sun to partial shade
  • Flowering Time: June to October
  • Soil Moisture: Moist, do not let it completely dry out
  • Soil Type: Widely adaptable
  • Other Characteristics: Tolerates deer, attracts butterfly’s

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  1. This is one of my favorites because I love its scent. I think you’re right about the exposure-it doesn’t seem to like hot afternoon sun.

  2. This is a great looking plant…

  3. Love Heliotrope, have not grown it for years. Thanks for the reminder.
    Thanks too for the nice comment on my blog.

  4. My pleasure, glad to be of service. I really enjoyed your last post and your photos were really beautiful.

  5. Thank you so much for providing the information about the plant!

  6. This is one of my very favorite plants.
    The smell is just so wonderful, and it is such a beautiful plant to photograph.

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