Helichrysum petiolare – Liquorice Plant
Helichrysum petiolare is usually sold as summer bedding for baskets and containers. I planted mine in a container and it has survived the winter down here on the South Coast of England, it is usually hardy to -5°, evergreen and has a trailing habit. It bears small white flowers in Summer but for me the foliage colour and habit are it’s greatest attributes. The species usual foliage colour is blue/grey, I have the cultivar ‘Limelight’ which has a lime green colour.
It originates from South Africa and prefers a sheltered spot in full sun either east or south facing. It will tolerate any pH, acid, neutral or alkaline and grows well in loam, clay or sand which is moist but well-drained. It’s perfect for pots. Given the right conditions it can reach a height of 0.5m and spread of 1.5m in as little as 2 years. It can also be propagated by non-flowering softwood cuttings in Spring or late Summer.
It’s great groundcover but is easily kept in check by pruning if need be. The lime green foliage pairs well with hot colours like red and orange. For a colourful summer display annuals such as Nasturtiums, Marigolds and Petunias work well against the lime green leaves. A more permanent display can be achieved with perennials such as Lavender, Box or even large shrubs and small trees. I have a fastigiate Yew in a pot and Helichrysum petiolare grows very happily around the base, like the Yew it likes well drained compost.
I am growing this plant a very short distance from the South Coast and it thrives so I can vouch that this plant is not only perfect for coastal gardens but also Mediterranean gardens, rock gardens, beds and borders, city and courtyard gardens, cottage and informal gardens and not forgetting hanging baskets and patio containers, just about anywhere really. You couldn’t wish for a more versatile plant.