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Products > Plants - Browse By Plant Category > Groundcover > Plectranthus amboinicus
Plectranthus amboinicus - Mexican Mint

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae) (Mints)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Violet
Bloomtime: Fall/Winter
Fragrant Flowers: Yes
Synonyms: [Coleus amboinicus, P. aromaticus]
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25° F
Plectranthus amboinicus (Mexican Mint) is a tender fleshy pleasantly aromatic evergreen subshrub that grows 12 to 18 inches tall by a bit wider with small ovate gray green leaves that have dentate margins towards the leaf tip and with a velvety texture. The small violet-colored flowers appear in a short inflorescence from fall into winter and sometime on to mid spring. Plant in full coastal sun to light shade and irrigate occasionally to very little. Hardy to 20 °F. A useful plant as a groundcover or even a window sill plant and very useful with foliage that has an oregano-like flavor and odor that can be used to flavor food. This plant is native from Kenya to South Africa (northern KwaZulu-Natal), where it grows in open grasslands and within succulent thickets on rocky outcrops and cliff faces. Joćo de Loureiro (1717-1791), a Portuguese botanist who traveled throughout Asia and Indonesia initially described this plant in 1790 as Coleus amboinicus with the specific epithet referencing Ambon, an island in the Maluku Islands in Indonesia, which are also known as Moluccas Islands and commonly called the "Spice Islands. Kurt Polycarp Joachim Sprengel in 1825 transferred the plant into the genus Plectranthus. The most used common name seems to be Mexican Mint, confusing as this plant does not originate in Mexico but it has naturalized or is cultivated throughout the Old and New World Tropics; some references list it as native to these areas but current thought is because of its long history of cultivation, it was transported great distances by earlier traders. In South Africa, the land of its origin, it is called Soup Mint, Country Borage or by the interesting names French Thyme and Indian Mint. In other parts of the world it is also called Big Thyme, Spanish Thyme, Cuban Oregano and Indian Borage. Though this plant is widely grown the plant, we received under this name turned out to be Plectranthus montanus This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Plectranthus amboinicus.