Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)

Throughout this post we will be talking about Heliotropium arborescens, including the origin, types and characteristics of this ornamental plant, so that you can discover how useful it can be not only to decorate gardens due to its attractive color, but also for its use within the medicinal field.

The heliotrope, scientifically known as Heliotropium arborescens, is a genus of herbaceous plants that belongs to the Boraginaceae family, which has around 150 accepted species, although there are approximately 500 others that are still taxonomically unsolved. Of these plants, they are commonly used as garden plants, and Heliotropium stands out as the most notable.


The heliotrope is characterized by being a shrub capable of reaching a height of approximately 2 meters, which also has numerous short branches. In general, its leaves are ovate, although it is also possible that they have a peculiar rectangular and elliptical shape.

Its inflorescences are around 3-10cm long and are not usually very hairy; while its flowers stand out for being a pleasant lavender color, although in the hybrid specimens, they can vary between white and purple, and the corolla tube is distinguished by having a length approximately twice that of the calyx. Their lobes are round, completely free of hair, and usually about 4-5 mm long.

In the same way, we can highlight that this attractive ornamental plant has as its main characteristic the great beauty of its bluish inflorescences, although its vanilla and intense aroma is equally remarkable.

Caring for the Heliotropium arborescens

When deciding to grow Heliotropium arborescens in your garden, you must bear in mind that it requires certain care, among which are those mentioned below:

The most convenient thing is to place these plants in places where they can be sheltered from the wind; and despite the fact that it is a plant that likes the sun quite a bit, throughout the summer it is best to place it in places with semi-shade, especially if it is in spaces within regions that are too hot, while in the case of areas with moderate climates, there is the possibility of placing them in full sun.

It is usually especially sensitive to lower temperatures, so it requires minimum temperatures of around 15 ° C, while throughout the winter the ideal temperature would be 21 ° C.

When choosing to grow them inside a pot, Heliotropium arborescens has to receive frequent watering during its growth stages. This plant requires soils that in addition to being fertile, have a good drainage system and must be fertilized every 15 days with the water provided during irrigation.

Its flowers are usually characterized by having a color that varies between lavender and purple ; they are usually arranged in compact spikes and it is common for them to emerge during spring to fall.

The heliotrope usually multiplies through apical soft cuttings not only during spring, but also in summer; likewise, you can do it in the fall using mature cuttings as well as seeds.

Moderate pruning should be done periodically in order to promote the development of new shoots. In addition, at the end of winter you need to do a clean pruning to remove damaged or dead parts and keep its messy growth under control.

Plagues and diseases


This shrub is usually a species prone to being attacked by Tetranychus telarius and Brevipalpus phoenicis, as well as by rusts generated by the presence of Phragmidium, Uromyces or Puccinia type fungi, among others.

Common uses

Heliotrope is often used as an ornamental plant in large gardens, whether in homes, houses, national and recreational parks, residences or shopping centers. However, its main use is usually medicinal, because several of its parts are usually used in essential oils for perfumery and medicine (flower and leaves) or as powerful sedatives (roots).

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