I remember running around Curry leaf trees at my Mama’s(Uncle) farm in North Karnataka. He had grown these trees in half an acre of land. Walking beside the trees, we could smell the distinctive scent of the trees. There was always a continuous demand for the leaves throughout the year. It is ubiquitous in most of the South Indian and Sri Lankan dishes.
The curry leaf tree is a fast-growing deciduous shrub with deep root and aromatic leaves. It can be grown either in pots or outside. It is successful to grow in hot and dry conditions. You can try to grow from cuttings, which are neither too tender nor very hard and woody and remove the lower leaves. Cut the stems cleanly at a node, and push the cutting a few centimeters into a prepared pot or ground. Keep the pot away from direct sunlight. Rooting will take about 3 weeks. Alternatively, you can get a sapling from the nursery and plant it directly in the desired place or pot.
The tree grows 4 – 6 mtrs tall, with a trunk upto 40 cm diameter. The leaves are dark green in color, small, shiny and have pointed leaflets that grow closely along a central stem. The flowers of the tree are small white, and fragrant.
The small black and red, shiny berries are edible, but their seeds are poisonous. The trees need to be pruned regularly for new shoots to grow. Water regularly and manure during the growing season. In winter, keep the pot in a warm, frost-free place (minimum temperature 12 degrees C). In April, water generously and repot if needed, and move the plants to a warm light place (around 18-20 degrees C).
Watch out for scale insects, which might infest the tree. An organic insecticide like Neem Oil diluted in water can be sprayed to control the insects.