Garden Heliotrope Heliotropium arborescens 'Chatsworth'

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
heliotrope 'Chatsworth'


Heliotropium arborescens 'Chatsworth', commonly known as garden heliotrope, is characterized by its lush, deep green leaves that are often pointed and slightly wrinkly in texture. This foliage provides a rich backdrop for the clusters of delicate flowers that are typically a rich shade of violet or lavender. The flowers are admired for their small, star-like shape and are arranged in tight, spiral formations, resembling small corkscrews or scorpions' tails. These fragrant blossoms are known for their sweet, vanilla-like scent that can be quite potent, particularly in the evening or on warm days. The overall appearance of garden heliotrope is that of a bushy, full plant with an appealing textural contrast between the soft flower clusters and the more robust leaves.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Garden Heliotrope, Common Heliotrope, Cherry Pie Plant

    • Common names

      Heliotropium peruvianum

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The garden heliotrope contains toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can cause liver damage with serious health implications if ingested. The symptoms of poisoning in humans can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, hepatotoxicity which may lead to liver failure. Chronic exposure can also lead to the development of veno-occlusive disease, a condition involving the blockage of small veins in the liver.

    • To pets

      Garden heliotrope is also toxic to pets due to the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. If ingested by animals such as dogs and cats, the plant can cause similar symptoms as in humans which include gastrointestinal upset like vomiting and diarrhea. More severe poisoning can lead to liver damage with signs such as jaundice, lethargy, and abdominal distension due to fluid accumulation. Chronic ingestion can be fatal, leading to progressive liver failure.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1-2 feet (30-60 cm)

    • Spread

      1-3 feet (30-90 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Aesthetic Appeal: Heliotropium arborescens 'Chatsworth' is known for its beautiful clusters of fragrant flowers, which can add visual interest to gardens and landscapes.
    • Attracts Pollinators: This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators, supporting biodiversity in the garden ecosystem.
    • Easy to Grow: It is considered easy to cultivate in a range of soil types, provided they are well-draining, making it suitable for gardeners with various levels of experience.
    • Compact Growth Habit: Its compact size makes it ideal for small gardens, borders, and as a bedding plant.
    • Versatile Usage: It can be used in a variety of garden designs, including cottage gardens and container gardening, offering flexibility in a gardening space.
    • Long Blooming Season: It typically has a long blooming period, giving a prolonged display of color and fragrance in the garden.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • As a natural dye: The flowers of Heliotropium arborescens may be used to produce a blue or violet dye for textiles, though this is not a common practice.
    • In perfumery: The fragrant flowers of garden heliotrope are sometimes utilized in the crafting of perfumes and scented oils, as they have a rich, sweet scent reminiscent of vanilla or cherry pie.
    • As a flavoring agent: Although not commonly known for culinary uses, the intense fragrance of garden heliotrope has been experimented with for flavoring desserts and beverages in very small, non-toxic amounts.
    • In landscaping for noise reduction: Thick shrubby growth of garden heliotrope can help to absorb sound, making it useful for planting along roads or in urban areas to reduce noise pollution.
    • In crafting: Dried heliotrope flowers can be used in homemade potpourri mixes, or as a natural addition to decorative wreaths and floral arrangements.
    • As a learning tool: With its fascinating heliotropic movement (although less pronounced in this cultivar), garden heliotrope can be used to teach about plant movement and behavior in educational settings.
    • As a companion plant: Some gardeners plant Heliotropium arborescens near vegetables or roses, believing its strong scent may help deter certain pests.
    • In artisanal products: The aroma of garden heliotrope is sometimes captured in small-scale, handcrafted soaps, candles, and other aromatherapy products.
    • For artistic inspiration: The unique beauty and scent of the garden heliotrope have inspired many painters, writers, and other artists, who include the plant as a motif in their work.
    • Education about pollination: Garden heliotrope can serve as a tool for education about the importance of pollinators, as it attracts bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Garden Heliotrope is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Devotion: Heliotrope, which gets its name from turning towards the sun, symbolizes faithfulness and eternal love.
    • Eternal Life: The plant's tendency to follow the sun also represents a desire for everlasting life or immortality.
    • Healing: In some traditions, heliotrope is associated with healing due to its medicinal uses in herbalism.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every year
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    For the common heliotrope, ensure the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. Watering should be done deeply, which means the water should reach the roots, so adding approximately 1 gallon per plant once a week could suffice, depending on the weather conditions. During hot summer months, the plant might require watering twice a week, while in cooler months, watering frequency should be reduced to prevent root rot. It's important to adjust the watering schedule based on rainfall and temperature, and always check the top inch of soil for dryness before watering.

  • sunLight

    The common heliotrope thrives best in full sun to partial shade conditions. It should be placed in a spot where it can receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. When grown indoors, a south or west-facing window would be an ideal location to ensure the plant gets enough light.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The common heliotrope prefers warmer temperatures and thrives in a range between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It can survive minimum temperatures no lower than 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but it's best kept above freezing to avoid damage. The ideal growing conditions are warm days and slightly cooler nights, but prolonged exposure to temperatures below freezing will likely kill the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    To maintain a bushy appearance and encourage blooming, the common heliotrope should be pruned regularly. Pinch back the growing tips during spring to promote branching, and deadhead spent blooms to encourage new flowers to form. The best time for a more substantial prune is in the early spring before new growth begins, where you can cut back by up to one third of the plant's size.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Garden heliotrope thrives in rich, well-draining soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. A mix containing loamy soil, peat, and sand or perlite will provide the drainage and nutrients it needs for optimal growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Garden heliotrope should be repotted every 2-3 years or when it has outgrown its current pot. This helps to refresh the soil and provide adequate space for root development.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Garden heliotrope prefers moderate to high humidity levels but can tolerate lower humidity if necessary. Strive to maintain humidity around 50% for optimal plant health.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place garden heliotrope in bright, indirect light and keep soil moist.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, protect from strong winds, and water regularly.

    • Hardiness zone

      10-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Garden heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens 'Chatsworth') begins its life cycle as a seed, often planted in spring after the threat of frost has passed. The seeds germinate in warm, moist soil, usually within two weeks. Seedlings emerge and grow into bushy plants, reaching maturity and starting to bloom in the summer with clusters of fragrant flowers, which are typically purple, white, or violet. Throughout the growing season, the garden heliotrope continues to produce flowers, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies. As an annual or tender perennial in cooler climates, it will complete its life cycle within one growing season, dying after flowering and setting seed. In warmer zones, it may survive through the winter to regrow the next spring, continuing its life cycle as a perennial.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The Heliotropium arborescens 'Chatsworth', commonly known as the garden heliotrope or common heliotrope, is most often propagated by seed or stem cuttings. The most popular method of propagation for this fragrant flowering plant is through stem cuttings, typically done in the late spring or early summer. To propagate through cuttings, a gardener would select a healthy, non-flowering stem and cut a piece that is about 4 to 6 inches (approximately 10 to 15 centimeters) long. The lower leaves of this cutting are removed, and the cut end is dipped into rooting hormone before being planted in a moist, well-draining soil mix. The cutting should then be kept in a warm, bright location out of direct sunlight and the soil should be kept consistently moist until the cutting has rooted, which usually takes several weeks. Once roots have developed, the new heliotrope plant can be transplanted to a larger pot or directly into the garden.