When my wife’s Aunt Lorena told me about a plant growing in her garden that smelt like cherry pie I was intrigued. I was just starting out in flower gardening and she was encouraging me to take cuttings of plants from her garden to try and grow them in mine (for free). As soon as I walked into the area of her garden with this “plant that smelt like Cherry Pie” the beautifully sweet, fruity smell of fresh from the oven home baking made home in my nostrils. I took a cutting there and then and it has since become one of my favourite flowering shrubs in my garden. This week’s plant of the week is Heliotropium ‘Cherry Pie’ from the Borage family, Boraginaceae.
The plant has really attractive clusters of delicate violet-lavender coloured flowers that attract both bees and butterflies. I have grown it in a pot near my front door fooling visitors that there is baking going on inside. Heliotropium makes a great garden border and flowers mainly in summer however it is well into winter in my garden now and it is still flowering. It does prefer a spot in your garden that has good sunlight for at least a few hours of the day and you need to keep watering it during the summer to encourage it to flower. The dark green leaves are lanceolate in shape (shaped like a lance) and have a rough almost furry texture. Being the great Greek scholar that I am (if you count 6th form classical studies) I can tell you that ‘Helio’ means The Sun and ‘trope’ means to turn. The leaves (and some say the flowers) turn towards the sun throughout the day.
You can propagate this perennial from seed, taking tip cuttings or small plants can be bought from garden centres.
Have I mentioned that they smell amazing? Actually I’m off to the garden for another hit now. Mmmmmm Cherry Pie!!!