Saturday Spotlight – Propagating Curry Leaf Tree – Murraya Koenigii

I have posted on Curry Leaf Tree before.  In fact it is my most commented on post.  Given the level of  interest I thought it would be worth posting on it again.  It also worth checking the original post, in particular the comments, which detail a range of people’s experiences with this plant.

Curry Leaf Tree

Despite curry leaf tree being a tropical/sub-tropical plant Murraya Koenigii grows pretty well in my Melbourne (admittedly frost free) garden.  At this time of the year the plant is looking a little sad as Melbourne’s winters get a little colder than the tree would really like. It should recover pretty quickly once we have slightly longer periods of warm weather.

I grow my plant in a large (40cm diameter) pot which seems adequate.  I imagine that the plant’s growth would be quicker in the ground but it is quick enough to keep up with the rate I use the leaves.

Curry Leaf Trees propagate easily, but slowly, from seed.   The seed needs to be sown fresh – I have tried drying it before sowing but as yet I haven’t managed to germinate a dried seed.  I have germinated many fresh seeds though.  The seeds sit inside the berries.  Each berry contains one large seed.  You can see the unripe berries in the above photo.  When ripe the seed turns black (see below).  You can sow ripe berries whole or remove the fleshy part prior to sowing – I haven’t been able to discern any great difference in results between the two methods.

Curry Leaf Tree Seeds

I find that the seeds take a couple of months to germinate.  The seeds ripen in later Autumn in Melbourne so have to sown over winter.  I have tried germinating them  inside in my laundry and outside in a cold frame and they eventually germinated in both locations.  The seeds may well germinate more quickly in milder climates but in Melbourne 2 months seems to be the norm.   You can probably also propagate curry leaf trees from cuttings but I have yet to attempt it.  I would love some feedback from anyone who has tried.

Annoyingly I find that the seedlings are particularly attractive to slugs and snails.  I lost heaps of mine this year.

Recently I had a curry leaf tree question from a reader – Are there any tricks to moving a curry leaf tree?  I have never tried as I grow mine in a pot so I’m not sure how they respond to root disturbance.  If you have tried moving a curry leaf tree I would love to know how you got on.

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22 Responses to Saturday Spotlight – Propagating Curry Leaf Tree – Murraya Koenigii

  1. dirtgirl says:

    I live SW of Sydney and we successfully moved our Curry Leaf shrub almost 2 yrs ago. It started in a pot, went into one of our veg plots, then as it began to grow, quite rapidly, we decided it needed to be in the ‘berry patch’ further up the garden.
    If I remember correctly it did sulk for a while, but on replanting, we gave her a good haircut to try to relieve some of the transplant shock! We also made sure we dug a large area around the base to reduce the chance of damaging the roots.
    Since then we have had no problems with it and we do get mild frosts most winters, although not this past amazingly warm winter.
    We feed the ground around our shrub with lots of Alpaca manure, worm tea and ‘bokashi’ juice. I am always amazed at how expensive curry leaves are to buy, when they are so simple to grow.

    • Roger Brook says:

      Helpful comment about reducing the top when you transplant. I see you give plants haircuts in Australia too! I hate the term as it implies all that is wrong with pruning although for your shortening back I forgive you!
      We are having a lovely Autumn over here But I envy you your Spring!

    • Liz says:

      Thanks Dirtgirl, Fabulous feedback – I’m glad your tree is doing so well and I absolutely agree with you about the price of leaves. I guess there just aren’t many commercial growers.

  2. Frogdancer says:

    I’ve had my curry leaf plant for over a year and never used it, then needed some leaves for a demo. When I saw how expensive they were to buy, I was so glad I had them sitting out in a pot in my driveway for free!

  3. Thanks for the info – I tried to plant a fresh one and thought I had no luck, but maybe it will sprout soon.

  4. I’m always fascinated by what you grow and imagine it to be a virtual paradise, fed by endless sun and temperate weather. However, I’m beginning to realize that it’s probably quicker than that, and that you probably have a very particular microclimate not unlike our own in New England — changeable, mild at times, but also a challenge.

  5. kalyani says:

    Hi , i live in usa and i have some dried curry leaf seeds from india how do i germinate it?

    • Liz says:

      I would try soaking them for a few hours and then putting them on tissue paper inside a plastic bag in a warm location. That way you can see if they do actually germinate. I have heard that only fresh seed germinates but as I haven’t experimented with dried I couldn’t say for sure. The fresh seed I just put in pots and it grows so perhaps try that with a seed or two.

    • Soj says:

      Dried seeds are dead seeds. Curry leaf seed is viable for only a short time. Look for growers in Hawaii, Southern California, or Florida who might be willing to sell you seed. Trying to get seed from India into the US is an exercise in futility – it is far too fragile to be shipped that distance. I have not seen any m. koenigii products coming out of Florida at all since the imposition of the quarantine, but I did recently find some seed from a grower in Hawaii. I have had 90% germination from that batch despite my mishandling of the seed when I first got it.

      The seed must be cleaned before shipment and should be shipped to you loose in damp sphagnum moss. The seed itself is generally pretty cheap, but getting it before it cooks, dries out, or freezes (depending on temps in your area, and remember night temps can be significantly lower than day temps) could be tricky. Usually seed is available sometime between July and October, depending on when it ripens in the area it is coming from.

      Seed must be cleaned before being shipped which makes it even trickier. This is due to Agricultural regulations pertaining to a citrus disease that was introduced into Florida about 20 years ago – as murraya koenigii is a citrus plant, it has the potential for being a carrier of this disease, so no plants, leaves, or fruits may be shipped from citrus growing regions or into citrus growing regions. Only cleaned seed.

  6. Curry Tree Killer says:

    I had transplanted a curry tree (about 3m high; 1.5 m wide) as it was too close to our window. It had deep roots which I could not fully dig out but managed to get a large part out. After transplant it died instantly. I have never seen such a large plant give up so easily. My wife cursed me for a couple of years until I got a new one to that size. I would caution against moving curry plants.

  7. Western gardener says:

    I live Perth they grow really well here. I give it chicken manure soak for a few days in a old stocking more or less like a tea bag and pour the water at the base of the plant it loves it. I germinate my seeds fresh in a incubator when my wife is not using it for eggs they come up like hairs on a dogs back hope this is helpful

  8. Viviana says:

    Hi, I have plant curry leaf seed in pot, one is doing ok, but the other one got cut but still is green, anybadoy can tell me how to revive this seed, there is any way to save the seed. I will aprecciate any coments, thanks …!!!

  9. Ben Q says:

    Does anyone here have any experience with taking cuttings? Would love to hear of successful methods! thanks 🙂

  10. Stephanie says:

    I have a curry leaf tre from my Daughter which is sparse and needs pruning ,can I use the cuttings to propagate ?

    • Liz says:

      I think some people have had some success with this propagation methods so I would have a go. I would definitely use some striking hormone to help them along and try a mixture of soft and hard wood to see which (if any) works best.

  11. philip agagliate says:

    we live here in Cairns, I planted a curry tree 2 years ago and had to cut it back 3 times, however , after all that the tree now is 20 feet tall and my grand children climb it all the time, it has seeds on them right now, I will try a few cuttings, if not you can marcot , I have done a few with good results, . cheers ..
    phil.

  12. Colinas says:

    We live in north-western Sydney. We had the opposite experience of Dirtgirl. Our friends had given us two curry leaf trees, the more advanced of which, three years old, really struggled in its full-sun location, alongside a driveway. Fearing that we would lose it, we shifted it in late winter two seasons back, getting as much of the rootball as possible, to a location alongside its prospering cousin. Both trees are growing very well now, close-planted in a raised garden bed along a passageway, receiving good light but only morning sun.

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