My Everchanging Garden

Gardening That Grows With Me

Growing Heliotrope From Seed

Heliotrope has a lot of flower characteristics that make it a perfect annual for both containers and in the garden. It has clusters of old-fashioned purple-blue blooms, a sweet, almost vanilla-like scent, and Heliotrope is deer tolerant.

FAVOURITE VARIETIES AND SOURCES

There are not a lot of choices when it comes to seed propagation. For the home gardener, the most common, and often only, seed you will find is Marine. Ball Seed company has a white heliotrope, but seeds are only available to commercial growers.

Swallowtail Garden Seeds

  • Marine
Hardiness Not frost tolerant
Exposure Full sun, part shade*
Deer resistant Deer and rabbit-resistant
Bloom time & length Late spring to late summer
Deadheading Cut spent blooms
Water/soil Rich, moist soil, good drainage
Height 18-24 inches
Width 12 inches
Fertilizer Heavy feeders use bloom fertilizer

My own notes: In shade* the plants tend to flop and can get powdery mildew. Better to plant in full sun.

SEED STARTING

Heliotropes are not easy to germinate. They can take 3 to 4 weeks to germinate. They need consistent moisture, but seeds can easily rot, as can small seedlings. In my first year, I ended up with only 3 seedlings from 20 or so seeds.

  • start seeds 12 weeks before last frost date (Feb 25)
  • barely cover seed, needs some light to germinate
  • water with a fine mist
  • 70-80°F (21-27°C) to germinate in 14-20 days
  • use a heat mat and warm water

GROWING CONDITIONS

  • seedlings are also slow-growing
  • plants can grow cooler 60°F / 16°C to prevent soft growth
  • try growing under lights to help manage growth rate
  • larger plants can drop to 50°F at night
  • grow in 4-5 in/10-13 cm pots.

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