The curry leaf plant is native to India, where it is cultivated for its aromatic foliage and is used in many recipes in its traditional cuisine. It is more specifically a shrub or small tree that does not exceed 20 feet in height. It is also widely used as an ornamental tree for its beautiful leaves and flowers, as well as its striking blue-black berries. In this article we will see how to use fertilizer for the curry leaf plant, which types are the most suitable, how and when to apply them.
As with most plants, the curry leaf plant is known by various names throughout the world. Among the most popular names are; curry tree, sweet neem, Kadi patta, Karivepallai, Murraya koenigii spreng, among others. Although undoubtedly the most widespread way of naming it is the curry leaf plant.
1. Tips growing curry leaf plant
It will not be enough that you know how to fertilize your curry plant, you should also know some of the basic care if you want your plant to grow healthy and strong. That is why we will begin this post by listing the most important care that you must take into account when growing this plant.
- Location: for it to produce good flowering and develop good foliage, it is best to place it in a place with many hours of sun exposure.
- Soil: it is not a very demanding plant with the soil. It will grow very well in sandy soils with very good drainage capacity.
- Irrigation: the waterings should be fairly regular but with a moderate amount of water. What you are looking for is that there is no waterlogging of the soil, which can bring fungal problems to the plant. The amount of irrigation depends on the rain regime, you just have to make sure that the soil always maintains some moisture.
- Pruning: it is not a plant that requires significant pruning to live. In any case, it will always be good in case you need to control its size and cut diseased, damaged and / or dry branches.
- Pests: it is not a plant very prone to attack by pests or diseases. If we must name one, the most common may be that it is attacked by mealybugs, a regular control of the plant and the use of insecticides or natural oils can easily control this problem.
- Fertilization: Obviously, fertilization cannot be missing from a curry leaf plant’s care list, but don’t worry, we’ll study it thoroughly from the beginning.
2. Main nutrients for curry leaf plant
You cannot come up with an effective fertilization plan for your curry leaf plant without first knowing what the nutrient needs of this plant are. There are many nutrients that a plant can benefit from, however we can summarize them in a short list of just three nutrients.
- Nitrogen: this nutrient is essential for the development of any plant since it is an important constituent of the chlorophyll molecule. Thus, it is used to generate new leaves and stems and maintain a good green color. A nitrogen-deficient plant will have a low growth rate, little green coloration in its foliage, and may even lose its leaves.
- Phosphorus: this second main nutrient is essential in one of the most important processes in a plant; Photosynthesis also helps in the transport of nutrients, protein synthesis, in the transmission of energy, in the synthesis and breakdown of carbohydrates, among other processes. To put it easily, it helps in the formation of roots, production of seeds, fruits and flowers, as well as in fighting diseases.
- Potassium: the third of the main nutrients plays an important role in processes such as photosynthesis, in the translocation of photosynthesis, protein synthesis, enzymatic activation, among others. In summary, we can ensure that it helps the development of strong stems and a good growth rate, as well as increases resistance to periods of drought and the presence of any disease.
These are what we call primary nutrients, anyway, and while we won’t stop to study each of them, curry leaf plants also benefit from secondary nutrients like; sulfur, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, etc. Some of the above will be contained in the
2.1 What are NPK values?
You already know something about the nutrients these plants need, but if you want to go buy a fertilizer, how are you going to find the right one? That is, how will you realize that you have bought the fertilizer with the necessary concentration of nutrients. To help you with that, there are NPK values.
NPK values are three numbers separated by a dash (they have this format 10-15-20). What these three numbers indicate is the concentration of the three main nutrients in a fertilizer.
So if you buy a 20-5-5 fertilizer, it indicates that it is a fertilizer with a lot of nitrogen. 20% is nitrogen, 5% is phosphorus and 5% is potassium. Nitrogen fertilizers are widely used in curry leaf plants since nitrogen is the nutrient it needs in the greatest amount.
If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.
3. Fertilizer for curry leaf plant
You already know what are the nutrients your curry leaf plant needs. It is time to start to see which fertilizers are best suited to apply. As you well know there are different types of fertilizers, for this case we will divide them into three:
- Natural or organic fertilizers.
- Homemade fertilizers.
- Chemical or commercial fertilizers.
This division is often not so defined, as there are fertilizers that could be placed in more than one of this classification. For example, homemade fertilizers are generally organic and natural.
3.1 Best natural or organic fertilizer
By organic fertilizer we understand those whose nutrients are contained in organic matter, animal, vegetable or other natural organic origin. That is, they are made up of compounds / materials, in which the main nutrients are chemically linked or are part of these organic matrices.
Within these fertilizers, we can list the following to use on your curry leaf plant.
3.1.1 Bone meal
It is a powder that is made from the bones of various animals. This fertilizer is a very good organic source of phosphorus, it will help a stronger and healthier development. If you have dogs at home, they can sometimes be attracted to the smell of this fertilizer. You should be vigilant, as your pets may end up digging inside their pots due to this attraction. You can easily buy it in any nursery or on the Internet.
3.1.2 Worm humus
Worms have the ability to return organic matter in a completely decomposed form, also helping to dilute certain minerals, facilitating the assimilation of plants. The result of this process is what we know as worm molds. This good fertilizer is a good source of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
3.1.3 Blood meal
The product obtained from the drying of animal blood is a meal that has a high nitrogen content. This concentration varies between 10% and 14%, similar to that of some chemical fertilizers and higher than many other organic residues of animal origin. This good amount of nitrogen will help curry leaf plants to grow better.
3.1.4 Fish emulsion
As you might imagine, this is a fish-based fertilizer. Although it is a fertilizer that you can make at home, its procedure can be somewhat tedious and annoying (especially because of its smell). For this reason we have not included it in the list of homemade fertilizers. It is a good source of the three main nutrients, in a ratio that is usually 4-1-1. It is widely used as a foliar fertilizer, although it is also applied directly to the soil.
3.1.5 Seaweed Fertilizer
Continuing with the marine world we have algae-based fertilizers. Depending on the type of algae from which the fertilizer is made, its composition can vary. But in general they are a very good source of nitrogen and other nutrients like; calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium
3.2 Best homamade fertilizer
With the amount of homemade fertilizers that exist we could make a very long list. But in order not to make the article too long, we have selected the 7 that we consider the easiest to prepare. And they can also work very well as a fertilizer for your curry leaf plant.
3.2.1 Coffee grounds
If what you are looking for is a simple fertilizer to prepare and that is a good source of nitrogen, coffee grounds may be the solution. These, in addition to adding nitrogen, will make the soil more spongy.
What you should do is save the coffee grounds and let them dry in the sun. Once it is dry you can apply it directly to the ground. This way you will add organic matter that will slowly release nitrogen into the soil.
3.2.2 Wood ash
If you have a fireplace or any wood heating system at home, this is a good source of fertilizer. And it is that wood ashes are very effective to provide phosphorus and to a lesser extent some potassium in your plants. To be able to use these ashes you must mix them with water, dilute the content and apply it with irrigation.
3.2.3 Banana peels
We have already seen a source of nitrogen and a source of phosphorus, we lack a good source of potassium. And that is what we will achieve by creating fertilizer based on banana peels.
To prepare it you must have between 3 or 4 banana peels and 1 liter of water. If you want to prepare more fertilizers, respect this proportion. Cut the shells into pieces and bring them to a boil in the water.
After 15 minutes of boiling, let the preparation cool down and strain. And voila, you have a potassium-rich fertilizer to apply on your curry leaves.
Another very good homemade fertilizer for a curry leaf plant is buttermilk. What it will give us is a good amount of nitrogen in addition to improving the battery community in the soil. It also provides other macronutrients such as calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
You can make it with yogurt or milk. For example, mix two tablespoons of yogurt in one gallon of water. Once well mixed it can be applied together with an irrigation. Without a doubt, it is one of the easiest fertilizers to prepare.
3.2.5 Fishbowl water
If the above is an easy fertilizer to prepare, this is even more so. In case you have a fish tank at home, what you should do is not throw the water you get out of it every time you clean them. It will be that “dirty” water that we will use as fertilizer.
Fish tank water, as long as it is in good condition and does not contain harmful chemicals, is a very good source of nitrogen and phosphorus. Once extracted from our fish tank, we can use it directly to water our curry leaf plants.
As the penultimate homemade fertilizers for curry leaf plants we will recommend a source of calcium. And it is that eggshells could not be missing among these recommendations, which not only provide calcium but also work as a repellent for some insects such as snails and caterpillars.
You just have to crush the eggshells and spread them on the floor. Then try mixing it with the first few inches of soil. And to finish, it is accompanied by a good watering.
If eggshells could not be missing from the list, even less compost. It is enough to mix all the fertilizers that we have just mentioned; coffee grounds, wood ashes, banana peels or any other fruit, buttermilk, egg shells, etc. and let them ferment.
Once all this organic matter is well fermented we will have the most complete homemade fertilizer. And it is that the heterogeneity of the components does not lack any necessary nutrient. In addition to allowing us to reuse the organic leftovers that we produce at home.
If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.
3.3 Best commercial fertilizer
I think we have given it a lot of natural / organic fertilizers. These have the benefit of not adding any type of chemical that can damage the soil in the long run. But they have the disadvantage that the concentration of their nutrients is low. And when I say that it is low, it is comparing with the concentration that a chemical or commercial fertilizer can have as we usually call it.
Next, I will recommend three chemical fertilizers that you can use on these plants.
3.3.1 Iron sulphate
There are few occasions in which curry leaf plants have iron deficiencies, in those moments we must look for a fertilizer that compensates for this deficiency. Among the most popular for these cases is iron sulfate (green, dry granular product, which can be purchased in a nursery).
And will you tell me, how do I know when my curry leaf plant needs iron? This is fairly straightforward to diagnose. When one of these plants lacks iron, its leaves will start to turn yellow, but the veins on those leaves will remain green.
3.3.2 Osmocote fertilizer
This is one of the most common and widely used commercial fertilizers. It works for various types of plants, giving very good results on curry leaf plants.
They come in granular format with an intelligent behavior, feeding the plant that increases or decreases according to the needs. Each of the granules is covered by a resin that controls this slow release of nutrients.
This smart release feature helps avoid problems like root burning. It can last for several months in the ground, helping to produce greener foliage and larger leaves.
3.3.3 Epsom salt
This is a high magnesium chemical compound. This mineral provides the benefit of favoring plants for the absorption of basic nutrients.
Other benefits that the use of this fertilizer can bring are:
- Minimize the impact of a plant against transplantation.
- It has ecological properties.
- Avoid the attack of various pests.
- Improves seed germination.
The use of this fertilizer is more than widespread. Which is why it is very easy to find in any nursery.
4. How and when to fertilize curry leaves plant
In the previous section, we have reviewed no less than 15 fertilizers that you can use on your curry leaf plant. In any case, any fertilization plan is limited to using a smaller amount of fertilizers. Do not think that applying the 15 fertilizers that we recommend will make your plant grow stronger, in fact I am almost sure that you will end up killing it by an overdose of nutrients.
In this section what we will do is recommend a fertilization plan. Dividing between currye leaf plants grown in the ground and planted in pots.
4.1 Curry leaf plant on ground
Being planted in the ground, our curry leaf plant has many possibilities to take up available nutrients and the fertilization needs are much less than if it were in a pot. In any case, it is always good to regularly add some extra nutrients to enhance its growth.
What I recommend for these cases is that in early spring I add a good compost to the soil. If you prepare it at home, make sure it is very heterogeneous, with elements that incorporate all the necessary nutrients. Once placed in the compost, mix it with the earth and accompany it with a good watering.
At the end of spring or during the summer, if you want, you can make an application of foliar fertilizer. Remember that the most important thing in our curry leaf plant are its leaves, so this type of fertilizer is ideal for these plants. You can buy some fish-based fertilizer like the one we recommend.
In the event that at any time you notice iron deficiencies (previously we studied how to detect this problem) you can resort to the application of iron sulfate. For the doses and the regularity of the application, I recommend that you carefully read the instructions on the package.
4.2 Potted curry leaf plant
When you have a potted plant, it is confined and can only access the nutrients contained in that little soil. Nutrients that are also washed with each watering. This makes the need to fertilize a plant grown in pots much greater than if you grow it in the ground.
As an extra recommendation, you should keep in mind that you should gradually increase the size of the pot. In a couple of seasons, you may need to double in size.
As a first recommendation, I recommend that each time you transplant your curry leaf plant you add a good amount of compost. An alternative to compost can be the use of vermicompost that will have an excellent performance. Remember to use a soil with good drainage capacity, to avoid possible flooding.
When your plant is well established in its pot, during the growing season (spring summer) you can apply a slow release granular fertilizer. Depending specifically on the fertilizers you choose, it will be how often you should apply. For example, Osmocote usually lasts in soil for up to 6 months.
As in general curry leaf plants suffer from iron deficiency, when we grow it in a pot we will anticipate this deficiency. That is why we will apply iron sulfate every two or three months. As I always recommend, it is best to read the instructions on the packaging. Although generally a dose of two tablespoons per plant (in medium plants) will be enough to cover the iron needs.
With this we finalize this fertilization program for a potted curry leaf plant. It should be noted that this is one of many fertilization plans that can work. You can take other of the 15 fertilizers that we recommend and put together your own fertilization plan. Then by trial and error you can adjust the plan until you achieve the one that best suits your possibilities and needs.
5. Curry leaf plant care and homemade fertilizer
To end this post, and as is always the custom in this blog, we have selected a video (Organic Gardening channel). In this case you can review some care and how to use a homemade fertilizer for your curry leaf plants. I hope you find it useful. 😉
- 50 HOMEMADE FERTILIZERS – homegrownfun.com.
- CURRY LEAVES A MIRCALE PLANT – academia.edu.
- HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN CURRY LEAF TREE – gardenerspath.com.