Plectranthus amboinicus (Cuban Oregano) is an attractive, evergreen, perennial plant up to 3.3 feet (1 m) tall, with lemon-scented, thick…
Oregano, a plant from the mint family, is a signature flavor of many Italian, Mexican, and Spanish dishes. Oregano is a hardy perennial plant that is easy to grow in the home garden. Oregano leaves are oval, dark green and in opposite pairs. Some varieties have fuzzy leaves, others not. Oregano starts as a ground-hugging rosette of leaves, but it can easily grow to about two feet tall. A handful of plants will provide you with enough oregano to use fresh in season and to dry for use throughout the rest of the year.
|Botanical Name||Origanum spp. and cultivars|
|Plant Type||Perennial herb|
|Mature Size||2 feet tall, 18-inch spread|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun to part shade|
|Soil Type||Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil|
|Soil pH||6.5 to 7.0|
|Flower Color||Pink, purple, and white|
|Hardiness Zones||4 to 10 (USDA) depends on variety|
|Native Area||Western and Southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean|
|Family:||Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)|
|Genus:||Coleus (KO-lee-us) (Info)|
|Species:||amboinicus (am-boy-IN-ih-kuss) (Info)|
|Synonym:||Coleus amboinicus var. violaceus|
Tropicals and Tender Perennials
Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
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)
Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone
From herbaceous stem cuttings
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Clovis, California(2 reports)
VALLEY VILLAGE, California
Vista, California(9 reports)
Fort Myers, Florida(2 reports)
Sunset Beach, North Carolina
Prosperity, South Carolina
On Dec 7, 2017, StarDreamer444 from Brea, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:
I am very curious whether anyone else's plant has a strong pungent fragrance of skunk weed when the leaves are brushed? I also notice that the flowers are fragrant in the same way, plus very resin-y and taste like a combo between garlic and pot! They are quite tasty, really.
Very medicinal plant from what I have read so far. I have one in a pot which receives full sun, less water -- that one is very pungent, and just started flowering quite heavily.
Another plant is in a shadier spot, getting more water, and is quite tame in its aroma. It also is not flowering much at the moment.
I just read that it is widely used for flavoring meat dishes and soups. and a tea can be made with the leaves. After I sauteed some flowers with my scrambled eggs, m. read more y house smelled like I smoked pot. for at least a couple of days! Lol.
Hoping to hear about others' experiences. :)
On Jun 2, 2016, Lulu8185 from Austin, TX wrote:
I'm looking for some cuttings of these plants! Can anyone help me out?
On Feb 10, 2016, tump from Sydney,
I have just planted this (in a pot) because I read that it's good for insomnia. Last night I chopped one leaf and poured boiling water over it and waited a couple of hours before drinking it. I had the best sleep in quite a while.
On Nov 8, 2015, sunkissed from Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
I have this growing outdoors in a pot under shade canopy with some filtered sun. I'm surprised it is not bothered by pest like so many herbs can be here in FL. Did well even when we had a few cold nights that hovered around 32, but did have a bit of color change.
I've used it in cooking, it has a strong flavor, so not much is needed, the plant is attractive.
On Oct 5, 2015, larryvon from Clovis, CA wrote:
live in calif, central valley
I have Plectranthus aromaticus, in a pot, can I grow it in indirect light or does it need sun part of the day? Any suggestions on what fertilizer to use.
On Sep 18, 2015, Shirrush from Ramat Gan,
So apparently this is another of these pesky Plectranthus spp. which seldom flower and never set seed? I'm mulling adding it to my "want" list, along with three other Plectranthus species that seem no easier to get than a two-places coffin.
On Jun 3, 2015, something86 from Oxnard, CA wrote:
This is a very popular herb in curries and Latin dishes. Extremely easy to grow however it is poisonous to dogs, cats and horses (according to the SPCA). I was trying to find the culprit of what was making all of my dogs sick and it was this plant. It is so easy to propagate, it can propagate itself like bamboo. All of my dogs have had mild diarrhea for 2 days, and this was the culprit. My dogs are large and heavy, so a bite or 2 will not send them to the vet, but a small dog under 20 pounds or cat will have very bad effects. Do not grow where your animals can nibble on them, or just avoid it all together.
On Mar 22, 2015, AliseF from Montreal,
I have the variegated green and white type of this plant and when the leaves are crushed the scent is identical to the green's. Over winters my plants are located in front of a large East facing window on the floor about a foot away from a baseboard heater. I water them every day. They have flourished over the two years that they've been with me and the branches are now very long and covered with leaves. I will transfer to larger pots and take cuttings in the spring and bring all the plants outside to enjoy the sunshine after danger of frost/hail is gone. I have not dared to leave them outdoors over the winter but I'd be interested to learn if anyone in Zones 4-5 has had success doing so. I am learning that this plant is also used for medicinal purposes but until now I have only used it as. read more a herb for cooking. Has anyone benefited from cures via this herb?
On Sep 17, 2014, cytobear from Tucker, GA wrote:
I pinch a 4 inch section late fall last year (2013) not knowing what it was. I rooted it in water and put it in soil for the winter. By spring it was pathetic looking and I was down to 2 leaves. I took it outside in early spring and it struggled to live. Once it warmed up it went crazy. One small 4 inch rooting has turned into a hundred plants. I planted some with magenta petunias and people stop and ask me what it is all the time. I will use it all over my yard next year to brighten the yard on the edges. It smells like strong Oregano very pungent. I have cut it and pinched it back and thrown it over in the yard. It has rooted. I have never seen a plant like this that roots so easily. If any part touches dirt it roots and grows watered or not, at least mine does. Next year our subdivisio. read more n will be full of it because neighbors ask for cuttings all the time. My mailbox planting keeps growing and neighbors keep pinching. I am going to see if it survives the Atlanta winters and comes back. Its high water content I suspect not, but I would not be surprised if some pop back. Its an amazing plant once it gets warm outside. I fertilized mine which I will not do next year. Fert makes it grow gangly and I prefer it small and dense. Full sun, semi shade has worked for me. I do have a clump in deep shade that only gets 30 min of morning sun and it lived.I never saw any flowers on mine this year.
On Jun 9, 2014, Nefitara from Port Richey, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:
It's a beautiful plant smells good, healthy, easy to care for and has many, many uses. I would suggest that if you live in an area where you get frost in the winter . move it under a shelter to protect from frost.
On Mar 8, 2014, tkh from Macon, GA wrote:
I will gladly share rooted clippings of this plant with anyone craving for it I know how it feels to want a plant so much that it seems to induce an OCD.
On Oct 25, 2013, blrhudugi from East Freehold, NJ wrote:
I have been looking for this plant for a long time. I used to have one indoors and for some reason it did not survive. Could someone please give me a cutting or a plant I would really be very thankful.
This plant is used in cooking and also as a medicinal herb. If you have a bad cough, try to put a crystal or 2 of sea salt and one black pepper corn, roll it in the leaf and eat it, the juices soothe the discomfort in your throat.
If your skin has been itchy, like people suggested about using as mosquito repellent, just rub on skin and your itchiness will decrease.
I miss the plant I had. Please some one give me one.
On May 28, 2013, BarbiS from 4551,
Wonderful to find the Mother of all Herbs with its variety of names and uses. I was given a cutting several years ago when living in one of the suburbs of Brisbane and it grew anywhere like a weed. I didn't know what it could be used for but tried it in salads and egg dishes successfully. When we moved north of Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast I took a few cuttings with me. We are living on what was a sandy seaside area now well and truly planted with houses. The herb grows well on the edges of my dry creekbed on the southern side of the house which means it is quite shady except for early morning an later afternoon but does get more sun in the summer. I have to trim the leggy branches [up to 3 feet long] to keep the 'creekbed' clear. Thank you for all the information on what els. read more e I can do with my beautiful smelling herb.
On Jun 18, 2012, pamelaqd01 from Daytona Beach, FL wrote:
I was given this plant over a year ago from a neighbor and they called it Indian Thyme. I have used it for all types of food. I love it! It is hardy and I have started many cuttings and given them away. I cut a piece and keep it in the kitchen in fresh water and it lasts for many weeks. Some of them root and then I plant it and others don't. I use the leaves for all Italian foods, in salads, tuna fish, egg salad, chicken dishes and on toast with melted cheese.
On Mar 26, 2012, RasSkipper from London,
United Kingdom wrote:
I took this plant home with me from Grenada. I use it to make 'green seasoning' as has been mentioned above. A few leaves mixed with scallion, thyme and water/ vinegar etc. In Grenada we call it big thyme. Great plant. I have plenty!
On Mar 25, 2012, Bucephalus from Brisbane,
Have had this plant for at least 30 years. It has been growing in a gravel path in my back yard under small trees. I rarely water it and during a long drought a few years back when water restrictions were fairly severe here in Brisbane (Australia), the only sign of stress was . it drooped slightly!
A neighbour gave me it as a pot plant. It now covers an area of about two square metres and is starting to spread into my rock-lined bush garden area which does not concern me as I like its aroma. Incidentally, the gravel path is composed of 20 mm gravel about 100 mm deep. so there would not be much nourishment in that !!
On Sep 13, 2011, JMAMMA from New Paltz, NY wrote:
recently i looked up the amazing cuban/spanish/idian basil plant, and found your entry. thank you! (but how do you make the leaves into a cough remedy, please? maybe today was the day i finally searched and found the name of this plant, because of my cough and cold!)
a spanish-speaking friend in florida gave me the first little sprig, which i carried home on the plane and potted up. After a humid summer, it's now spread into a foot-tall plant. as others have said, full southern sun burned the leaves reddish, bit now in a spot with only 5-hour sun it's happy. what a great smell.
On Dec 28, 2010, MemP from Brisbane,
Until today I had no idea what this herb was called. It is easily grown by breaking off a leaf and placing the stem in soil. It is extremely hardy plant, and will take neglect bursting back into life once cared for. Our family has used this herb for generations as an enhancement herb for our stuffing (example to stuff a roast chicken). Add grated onion and shredded carrot to bread, adding a chopped leaf of Cuban Oregano/Spanish Thyme. Moisten the bread with little water and sprinkle lightly with curry powder. Mix with hands and place stuffing inside chicken before roasting. You will never eat store bought stuffing again. As this herb has been in my family for generations (each generation breaking off a leaf to start their own plant) and as my family background is of spanish origion. read more , I guess it would have been known in our family in previous generations as Spanish Thyme.
On Aug 22, 2010, RachelOneLove from Saskatchewan,
Hello! I live in a very dry part of Canada - the prairie province of Saskatchewan. I sent my students to the floral conservatory two years ago and they brought me back a plant of cuban oregano. It was thriving in my parents' west window, and I took a cutting to my own place. But it is not doing well. It is alive and has green leaves, but only on the very tops of the branches. There is about an inch of leaves on each branch right at the top, and a lot of little dry leaves along the branches.
What am I doing wrong? It is in a North window. Does it need more sun? My only window in another direction faces west, but with an alley and then a taller apt building. More water? I water it about once a week and it seems fine, though like I say, not thriving. I talk . read more to it sometimes.
Any advice? Thanks! Rachel OneLove
On Jul 16, 2010, PeteP from Kandy,
Sri Lanka (Zone 11) wrote:
The variegated and green varieties are also grown in Sri Lanka and is called Kapparawalliya. As far as I know they are not used for cooking, but only as medicine and/or decorative garden plants. It is used for stomach complaints and fevers.
In India it is called Doddapattre and is used as a cold and stomach complaint medicine. It is also used in cooking as part of a Tambuli yoghurt sauce. (See http://nsushma.blogspot.com/2010/02/doddapatre-tambuli-coleu. )
Two other similar and interesting plants of the Plectranthus family are also grown in Sri Lanka:
1. Plectranthus zeylanicus, called Iriweriya, which has a delightful, strong and unique sweet . read more lemon scent and is used to treat colds and stomach complaints. It is slightly larger than the Cuban Oregano and has a similar growing habit. Whenever one touches or brushes against the leaves the whole surrounding will be pervaded by their fragrance.
2. Coleus malabaricus, called Aet-Iriweriya, which has a deep somewhat rosemary-oregano like scent, and is used for stomach complaints. This plant is more bushy and can grow almost a meter high.
Although all these three plants grow very well in Sri Lanka, I have never seen any of them flowering and wonder what would make them do so.
On Jun 19, 2010, Gangajay from Marine Parade,
When I was growing up this was a favourite cough remedy. The plant grows very easily, and to this day my grandmother prefers this to any store-bought cough medication.
On May 22, 2010, silassparkhammer from Astoria, NY wrote:
Grows great in the window in New York. The main use of this plant is as a marinade called "green seasoning" in Trinidad. Use one leaf with a couple Tbs each of culantro (recao/shado beni), parsley, scallion, chive, garlic, onion, scotch bonnet pepper or "aji dulce"/sweet pimento pepper, salt and powdered ginger. Use for chicken or shrimp marinade, it's sort of the Trini version of sofrito.
On Dec 15, 2008, rntx22 from Puyallup, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:
I just love this stuff. It smells great, it grows really well. I have them in 2 different pots mixed with some coleus. One of them is out in the open and got covered in the freak snow we had last week. It doesn't look so good. The one in a more sheltered area looks fine.
On Jul 3, 2008, gardenmart from Oviedo, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
As an indoor landscaper, I am often called upon as a plant ID consultant in the offices where I water their corporate plants. I got some cuttings of this last Thursday when this guy asked me "I got this as a gift in a little pot six months ago. I had to repot it. What is it?" It, growing up and out of the pot and covering the small table he had it on completely and growing down the sides, was Cuban Oregano. When I pruned it back for him I took a couple of cuttings, which have since rooted, and I promised to ID it for him. All I could tell him was it was a member of the mint family, which it is. Now thanks to you all, I have the ID. The scent and flavor of this are like turpentine. I had an intrepid plant friend taste it for me. He didn't die, but I don't know if it is truly an edib. read more le variety or not. It would appear to be a houseplant here in MA but a rapidly growing, minty houseplant.
On May 5, 2008, astcgirl from Brandon, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
My neighbor introduced me to this plant, however she calls it Spanish Thyme, I lost mine due to the short frost this year (2 days), I looked everywhere for it, I thought I found it in Walmart, but even though they called it cuban oregano, it has a camphor smell to it. I can't bring myself to try it. I ended up finding the same varigated one I had before in a nursery here locally. My neighbor also bought back the plain green one for me from a trip so I plan to root those cuttings. I love putting it in home made spaghetti sauce. My favorite herb.
On May 21, 2007, AnaM149 from Casselberry, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
I have my current plant for about 10 years now. Mind you, not the exact same original roots. but over the years, a rooting from the same plant. I cannot kill it. I have left it without water for well over a month (don't hate me for it) and it has been drowning for a while as well. It grows quickly and well, just leave the leaf on the soil or stick cuttings in dirt and forget them. It does not need any attention. None. Now I keep it on my porch where it will get the occasional rain and/or sprinkler action. I even water it at least once a week now. This plant always looks good. Nice fleshy leaves on good stems. Keep it as a trailing plant in a basket or pinch regularly for bushy looks. It keeps like a spider plant would inside, you can't kill it. I keep it outside as the smell. read more can be irritating when I have a migraine. I use it for cooking once in a while but I do chop up the leaves well. I like the idea of using it in a tea ball. One day, when I trim it next (it does get leggy), I will plop a few sprigs in the landscape and let it be. Tasty and pretty and tough. Enjoy yours!
On Mar 18, 2007, andihazelwood from bundaberg,
Australia (Zone 10b) wrote:
A neighbour gave me a few stalks of this and told me it was called "Herb Geranium" - of course I could find no such thing. My mother in law said Queen of All Herbs or Allspice (which is something totally different)! A lot of research finally brought me here. In any case, I cut the stalks into several smaller pieces and potted them all, and they all took off. I just recently planted several around my clothesline, I love brushing past and having the scent waft up into my laundry! :)
On Feb 20, 2007, maryqcontrary from Auburn Hills, MI wrote:
It grows well outdoors in summer here in MI. I had a potted one which thrived for a while. In India they run wild like mint once in the ground. It is used for medicinal purposes in India -as a remedy for cough. I know I have. I am also told it is very good for skin related problems as well.
I plant that I had dried up completely in the pot and was dead. I pruned it all the way such that only a woody hollow stump remained. It stayed that way thru winter and in late spring or summer I notice it had a couple of little plants coming from under the soil.
On Jan 24, 2007, Tetrazygia from Miami, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:
I've been growing this plant for many years, and have used it whenever I've needed something flexible and not in need of any care. It does well in dry soil, moist soil, or water (but not soggy soil). It does well in shade, partial shade, or mostly sunny areas. I grow it fine in the acidity of peat (in terrariums), and it's just as happy in our unusually alkaline limestone soils. Since frost is not a problem in my area, the plants usually live for several years (I've read two years is expected, but I have several that are 4-5 years old by now). Also, I can't think of an easier plant to propagate!
In Cuba, it's just called "oregano." The taste isn't very oregano-y and the two plants wouldn't be easily confused for eachother, but I guess there is a similarity. This plant. read more is extremely fragrant and a little goes a long way. .
On Oct 20, 2006, caffenol from Tulsa, OK wrote:
Well I am from Trinidad and now live in Europe I have grown up knowing this plant as Broad leaf Thyme, and also Spanish Thyme. It is a hardy tropical plant that spreads like SARS like Bird flu lol, but since moving to Europe I have been banging my head for it. I just now called a friend who is from Trinidad who happens to live in this part of the world and he declared to me HE HAS so many of this plant that he will be throwing it away. Well tomorrow Saturday October 21, 2006 I will be the proud owner of a cople of the plants which has been potted. Thank God, I have been wanting this plant for over 10 years now. It is a wonderful plant and the scent alone is soothing, I always found herbs to be quite soothing. I intend to plant this plant n Large pots and cultivate it and in spring and summ. read more er/fall put them out on balcony baskets mixed with a Geranium or two. In any event Intend to use it once more in my cooking. I would be curious to know how to extract its essential oil? The one I will get is purely green and dark, the one my mom hopes to bring for me is blueishgreen with red stems, both are equally as wonderful. Thanks.
On Jun 12, 2006, didntduit from Colorado Springs, CO wrote:
Growing up in the Florida Keys, Cuban Oregano has always had a place in our sunny kitchen window, and we used it regularly in all sorts of dishes - it's a great fresh herb to keep handy. My father gave me some cuttings, and now it grows just fine in my kitchen window in Colorado. Every summer I put cuttings outside and start new plants (grows like crazy), which I give to friends in the fall - the plants won't tolerate frost. My parents also grow it outdoors year round in Florida, under trees as ground cover, and in full sun. I've seen leggy stems get up to 5' long! The variety with white around the edges of the leances is very pretty also. My mother bought some in FL at a Home Depot, but I have still been unable to find any type of Cuban Oragano sold anywhere in CO, but I'll keep lo. read more oking and hoping.
On Feb 24, 2006, EAPierce from Idaho Falls, ID (Zone 5a) wrote:
I see no one from the northern reaches has yet reported on this one, so I'm happy to be the first. I picked up a 4" pot of this 'Cuban Oregano' at a local garden center last summer and planted it in my herb garden. I knew it wouldn't be perennial here, but I thought it would be worth trying as a annual. It was surprising to see an oregano whose leaves were succulent. Perhaps they remained that way because of the cooler climate here. It has a lovely, mild taste and fragrance, and I used it in poultry dishes, salads and pasta sauces Although it didn't spread much, it grew well enough to provide plenty of leaves to use during the summer, and I happened to discover that it's a great capsaicin neutralizer- if you eat a pepper that burns, go munch on some cuban oregano. I tried to bring i. read more t in for overwintering, but it didn't work.
On May 9, 2005, Gambitshand from Port Moody,
i love the smell and tha rate it grows.
On Nov 2, 2004, bluedak690 from Orlando, FL wrote:
I have been growing these plants for several years now. They are extremely easy to grow. To propogate, start with plant and cut just above next joint and put stem in rooting medium or start with a leaf or just lay stem on ground. Likes soil moist during rooting time. Leaves can be anywhere from 1" to 6" across. Plant likes moist soil, does not like sand too well, but will grow, just not as well. Will also root in water. Plant can grow up to 3' tall. They like the sun for more compact plant. You can tell if not enough sun as plant gets real leggy.
Cuban Oregano has varigated leaf. Both plants are thick leaved, but dry real well with a plant dryer - do not oven dry as the flavor weakens.
Both herbs can be used (fresh or dried) in tomato based sauces. read more (for use on any type of meat), or if ground fine - use in egg, macaroni, potato salads, fresh cut leaves can also be used (if cut fine) in tossed salads.
On Apr 29, 2004, KarenCrow from Hawi, HI (Zone 11) wrote:
I am now using this as a ground cover.
I planted a small bit of it in all day direct Hawaiian sun a couple years ago, never watered or paid attention to it and it has been spreading happily since through rain or through drought.
When I need ground cover elsewhere I grab a couple bits and stick it in the ground where it happily takes off again.
On Apr 24, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:
I know this plant as Cuban or even Caribbean oregano.
We have grown this plant in shade and in full sun. Our climate is quite (normally) rainy and our ground is usually wet unless we are having unusual drought. It seems to not be bothered either way.
We propagate by trimming it when it gets scraggly and just sticking the trimmed parts in the ground. It is not unusual to have a fallen leaf take root where it fell and start new plants.
An interesting characteristic. our mosquitoes don't like it. Since I'm a magnet for mosquitoes when working in the yard, I crush some of the leaves and rub them on my exposed areas. it does not work for long, but it works.
I tried distilling some of the plant's oil to rub on. We also made some homemade oatm. read more eal soap and added the oil and some of the leaves after processing in my blender. Nice aroma. Would make a great gardener's soap.
Since the leaves are tough and hard to digest, I usually crush them and place in a large mesh tea ball when cooking with it - mostly in stews and pasta sauces - then I can just fish it out when I need to.
On Sep 26, 2003, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:
I needed an interesting plant to fill my pation pots and this was what I found. I had never seen this plant before and it was a total contrast to the things I had already planted. It took about a week for the roots o catch hold and it just took off. Next year I think I'll try it in a hanging pot. I also rooted a peice and tried it in my reg garden. It did not do quite as well but I have done some research and I believe it was a little to damp. It grows better when it is better drained. The longest branch of this plant I had was around 4 and a half feet. I took that branch off and cut it into 5 peices and started them rooting in a vase of water in a window that gets the morning sun and not much else and the silly things are growing lik crazy too. I wanted to make sure I would have . read more peices for next spring when it gets warm enough. I do not know if it will come back next year from the articles i have read it will not. A very rwarding plant.
I have placed my cuttings into a hanging pot I hope to have some new pics by the end of the fall. I am going to try and get some of the seeds also.
On Feb 21, 2003, sanpetiro from Hong Kong,
Hong Kong wrote:
Good for pot and hanging basket. Although it always described as a plant for full sun, my plant keeps well indoor near a window with 2 hours sun through glasses.
Pick growing tips regularly to produce side shoots to maintain a better shape.
On Nov 26, 2002, moonraker from Swindon,
United Kingdom wrote:
This is known as Big Thyme on the island of Grenada in the West Indies. A favourite thyme-flavoured herb used regularly in cooking, especially meat stews. Easy to grow from cuttings started in a glass of water, like mint.
Cuban oregano leaves can be used just like regular oreganos. Harvesting Cuban oregano leaves for traditional medicinal purposes can be traced back centuries. It was useful in the treatment of respiratory and throat infections as well as rheumatism, constipation, flatulence and as an aid to stimulate lactation.
Modern applications use it as a substitute for Mediterranean oreganos, either dried or fresh. The leaves may be dried and crushed to add to meat dishes. Fresh leaves, in small amounts, are used in soups and stews, and in stuffing for poultry and other meat. Be cautious, as the plant is very strongly flavored and can overpower other seasonings.
This little plant has attractive foliage, the blooms attract pollinators and its use in the kitchen adds another tool to your culinary prowess.