Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Heliotrope
Heliotropium arborescens 'Marine'

Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Heliotropium (hee-lee-oh-TROH-pee-um) (Info)
Species: arborescens (ar-bo-RES-senz) (Info)
Cultivar: Marine

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

17 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Dark Blue

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 15 photos.
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11 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive sandyksk On May 22, 2014, sandyksk from Sanger, CA wrote:

I'm in Zone 9b, and almost killed this poor flower the first week...luckily I moved it in time, and pruned all the dead leaves, and it came back. It must be somewhat hardy!

I'll be more careful to keep it out of the hot sun of the Central Valley here in California. I'll post back if it makes it through the cold winter, as well. :)

Positive JD1226 On Apr 29, 2010, JD1226 from Salisbury, MD wrote:

I grew this plant last year, bought 3 plants and I can't tell you how much I love them!! I live in Maryland zone 7A the plants grew almost 3'. I planted them in promix and used miracle-gro liquafeed, every two weeks. Love the scent!! I just planted one by my back door and I've bought 2 others so far which I will plant in my angel garden.

Neutral workenstiff On Apr 27, 2010, workenstiff from Marcellus, MI wrote:

I have a MARINE HELIOTROPE TREE.. Its about 3 foot tall. The lower half is trimmed down and the top is bushy. It is doing very well inside till I put it out in the middle of May after frosts. ( Michigan Zone 5 } My question is , what makes the leaves turn brown , especially the tips,, and then sometimes fall off. I had a regular plant last year , potted , and it did ok , but again the leaves turned brown a lot.
OK its now July , the plant looks awful ,,same as last year , brown tips on the leaves , yellow leaves blah blah blah. I have done everything to make this plant healthy , water fertilizer, sun shade etc. BUT it never does well. So Im tossing it out , and thats my ending with this plant , for the last 2 years. Smells great , but not worth the effort, after all is said and done. Its the only plant in my garden that looks like crap !!!! If you want a plant that smells great , but looks awful after awhile , this is the plant for you !!!!!

Positive birder17 On May 5, 2009, birder17 from Jackson, MO (Zone 6b) wrote:

I believe this is one of my very favorite annuals. I tried to winter sow it this year for the first time. I did not get very many plants. I am going to try again next year. I don't think I could have too many of them. Last year, I planted heliotrope by front door, north side in bright shade. It did outstanding. I planted along with pink impatience, Lilac nemesia, and lilac penta. All did very well together. It was a real show stopper with the added bonus of wonderful fragrance. This year I'm repeating the same show and also putting it in a couple of pots with white nemesia, lilac nemesia pink and white verbena, and purple helioptrope. I have it in fairly tall plant stands so one doesn't have to bend to far to get those wonderful frangrances from both nemesia and heliotrope. I am going to try to take cuttings this fall to winter over because I enjoy the plant so much. If anyone has any special instructions to propagate from cuttings, e-mail me.

Neutral darylmitchell On Sep 10, 2008, darylmitchell from Saskatoon, SK (Zone 3a) wrote:

Heliotropes are sold as annuals in this cold climate, so I grew these in a container on a southern exposure in 2008. While they looked great at first, they went into decline by mid-summer. I snipped off the spent flower clusters, which seemed to encourage reblooming, but they never looked quite as good as the first batch of flowers. Also, some of the leaves turned brown and dried up, perhaps from the soil getting too dry. Overall, it was a nice looking annual but a bit too high-maintenance for my taste.

Positive Anitabryk2 On Oct 17, 2006, Anitabryk2 from Long Island, NY (Zone 6b) wrote:

One of my favorites as well! I grew the white variety this year too as well as another 'purple' variety. I love the scent. It wintersows nicely. I also take clippings in for the winter so that I have plants for next year.

Positive windbalm On Oct 16, 2006, windbalm from Philipsburg, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:

I grew several plants from seed started over last winter - and had a GLORIOUS all-summer show. I planted them in groups of 3 plantlets, and they were the nicest, longest flowering annual in my garden. They really look great with white marguerite daisies, multicolored snapdragons, and black-eyed susans. I wish they were a better cutting flower (they just wilt when cut - even when I tried preservative/ burning the ends/cutting the end under water). It's also too bad they aren't perennial in my area. But I treasure them for their lovely scent and showstopping color in the garden. The japanese beetles chewed on them some, but it didn't slow down the bloom one bit. Definitely attracts the honeybees, butterflies and bumbles. One of my favorites!

Positive cathy4 On May 18, 2006, cathy4 from St. Louis County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

This is my only MUST HAVE plant each year. It does best for me with morning sun, and it has to be in a pot. In the ground it becomes lunch. I love the vanilla smell, it sits right by my recliner. I have to give it fertilizer to thrive, and water frequently in our July-August heat. I have no luck bringing it in the house in the fall, but if it was around all year, I might not treasure it as much. Cathy, St. Louis

Neutral deezpalms On Mar 22, 2006, deezpalms from Oceanside, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

I absolutly love this plant!! What a great fragrence and velvet leaves! I need to get some more of this beauty. The snails here ate my entire shrub in one weekend!!

Positive ravntorthe On Dec 7, 2005, ravntorthe from Elkins, WV wrote:

When I found out this plant was a perrenial (tender) it fell into my experimental plant group. The first one I had I dug up and moved with me to my last "new" house and it almost died, revived, then got a lovely infection of aphids in the middle of winter and kicked the bucket.

The second try with this, I planted in its own planter and it has done wonderfully. It bloomed until mid November when I decided that it needed a break and started pinching off signs of bloom. This decision came because instead of the dark purple blooms, the color was white-ish blue with a purple edging, very pretty and delicate. I worried though, because it wasn't nearly so fragrant and the leaves were looking too light colored. Now it is back to its darker shade of foliage and doing well.

Positive LarryDavid On Jul 28, 2005, LarryDavid from Salt Lake City, UT (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is one of my favorite annuals that I have to grow every year. The vanilla scent is one of my favorites. I have found that this plant can be very particular about its location. In my area, it does not like direct afternoon sun. It is also particular about water. I let mine dry completely out before I water. Great plant, I highly recommend it.

Positive breannawood On Jun 24, 2004, breannawood from Milton, KY wrote:

These are my favorite flowers, hands down. The rich colors of both the flowers and the leaves are a beautiful contrast. They also smell heavenly! They're relatively easy to grow with plenty of sunlight and water. I usually feed them some Miracle Gro once a week and they've taken off wonderfully. I also deadhead them when the blooms have wilted.

Neutral nipajo On Jun 2, 2004, nipajo from Dallas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I do not think I would suggest that anyone in my zone 7 to put this plant in the ground, which is what I did. All I can say is that it is there and has not done a thing except to shrivel up slowly. Seems the best time is the early morning sun. It was so pretty at the nursery. To me when it shrivel's it is asking for water.

Positive jenawenna28 On May 25, 2004, jenawenna28 from Los Alamitos, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This is one of my favorites too!! Always in bloom with its lovely vanilla scent. Unfortunately, it is also loved by slugs and snails.

Positive flowerman On Jan 28, 2004, flowerman from Saint Louis, MO wrote:

fabulouse dark purple vanilla scented flowers and dark green leaves. one of my favorite plants of all time!!!!!!
5 stars.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Elk Grove, California
Los Alamitos, California
Merced, California
Oceanside, California
Palm Springs, California
Sacramento, California (2 reports)
San Jose, California
Sanger, California
Stockton, California
Aurora, Colorado
Hollywood, Florida
Dallas, Georgia
Greencastle, Indiana
Hebron, Kentucky
Milton, Kentucky
Falmouth, Maine
Fort George G Meade, Maryland
Salisbury, Maryland
Silver Spring, Maryland
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Madison, Mississippi
Bridgeton, Missouri
Lees Summit, Missouri
Saint Louis, Missouri
Buffalo, New York
Glen Head, New York
Ronkonkoma, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Mount Orab, Ohio
Springfield, Oregon
Center Valley, Pennsylvania
Osceola Mills, Pennsylvania
Dallas, Texas (2 reports)
La Porte, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
Kalama, Washington
Kent, Washington
Elkins, West Virginia

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