Succulents are easy to grow, attractive and aromatic. Such is the case with Cuban oregano. What is Cuban oregano? It is a succulent in the Lamiaceae family, also known as Spanish thyme, Indian borage, and Mexican mint. It is not a true oregano in the family, Origanum, but has a scent characteristic of the true oreganos. There are numerous culinary and traditional Cuban oregano uses. Once you know how to grow Cuban oregano, try this lively little plant in containers, a well-drained, partially sunny area of the garden or in trailing baskets.
What is Cuban Oregano?
Plectranthus amboinicus is a perennial succulent with aromatic foliage. It is often grown as a houseplant but can thrive outdoors in warm season regions or in summer. Leaves contain pungent oils, which can be harnessed for cooking.
The flavor of Cuban oregano is said to be much stronger than Greek oregano, the herb most frequently used to flavor pizzas and other Mediterranean dishes. Harvesting Cuban oregano and using it in recipes can provide similar flavor to traditional oreganos but should be used in more moderate amounts to avoid over-seasoning the dish.
Cuban oregano is a member of the mint or deadnettle family. As such, it has characteristic thick, fuzzy leaves with a strong pleasing odor. Leaves are grayish green and finely haired and saw-toothed at the edges. Flowers are borne in panicles and may be white, pink, or lavender.
Plants grow between 12 and 18 inches (30.5-45 cm.) tall and may develop a trailing habit, making it attractive in hanging baskets. As an in-ground plant, it will spread to a small mounded ground cover. Cuban oregano growing requirements are somewhat different than traditional oreganos, as they may burn in full sun and perform better in some light shade.
How to Grow Cuban Oregano
Choose a site with well-draining, gritty soil in partial sun for this little plant. It is frost tender but does well in tropical to semi-tropical areas year around. In temperate regions, grow the plant in a container and bring it indoors in fall.
Cuban oregano does most of its growth in spring and summer and prefers hot, dry conditions. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need water, however. The plant needs regular irrigation but cannot survive consistently wet roots, which makes drainage especially important.
Growing plants in containers makes it easier to accommodate Cuban oregano growing requirements by moving it as the seasonal sun gets hotter in certain areas of the garden. Some noon-day shade is required to prevent leaves from burning and ruining their appearance.
Cuban Oregano Uses
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.
Fact sheet: Cuban Oregano
Scientific Name: Plectranthus amboinicus
Also known as Vicks Salve, Mexican Mint, or Spanish Thyme, this succulent herb has the typical four-cornered stem of the Lamiaceae family. The leaves are very thick and succulent, grey-green and hairy. The plant grows about 19 inches tall. The leaves are highly aromatic with a strong flavor of mixed herbs.
The herb grows easily in a well-drained, semi-shaded position. It is frost tender and grows well in sub-tropical and tropical locations, but will do well in cooler climates if grown in a pot and brought indoors, or moved to a warm sheltered position in winter. Water only sparingly.
The leaves are strongly flavoured and make an excellent addition to stuffings for meat and poultry. Finely chopped, they can also be used to flavour meat dishes, especially beef, lamb and game.
The leaves have also had many traditional medicinal uses, especially for the treatment of coughs, sore throats and nasal congestion, but also for a range of other problems such as infections, rheumatism and flatulence. In Indonesia Plectranthus amboinicus is a traditional food used in soup to stimulate lactation for the month or so following childbirth.
The herb is also used as a substitute for oregano in the food trade and food labelled “oregano-flavoured” may well contain this herb.
Planted in Nassau County Extension Demonstration Garden
Sold at Nassau County Master Gardener Plant Sale
Many herbs are considered weeds and most are not particular about the soil in which they grow. Oregano is no exception—it will grow in soil that is only moderately fertile. Do not add compost or fertilizer to its growing area. Large amounts of nutrients, such as nitrogen, can change the flavor of this herb.
Oregano plants can be started from seeds, divisions, or cuttings. Since different species of oregano will cross-pollinate, you may not get what you expect from seed you saved yourself. Oregano seeds require some light to germinate, so cover only slightly with soil. Start seeds indoors and transplant when temperatures remain above 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Oregano plants are widely available in nurseries and through specialty catalogs. Catalogs tend to offer the widest variety of oregano plants. You can also divide plants simply to make more plants. Divide plants into segments when the centers begin to die out or the stems become too woody.
Coleus Species, Cuban Oregano, Indian Borage, Mexican Mint, Spanish Thyme
|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)
Where to Grow:
Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone
Soil pH requirements:
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.
PLECTRANTHUS AMBOINICUS (CUBAN OREGANO)
PLECTRANTHUS AMBOINICUS (CUBAN OREGANO) A South African member of the mint family with velvety, slightly succulent leaves. Its foliage has a strong fragrance akin to oregano. The stems can grow up to 3.0′ long, bending and trailing from containers. This plant has similar care needs to those of a Kalanchoe.
Cuban oregano is a hardy, succulent herb. It has a stem similar to that of a succulent with new growth offering more delicate green stems. Cuban oregano leaves are rounded, thick, and velvety and grow in pairs around the stem. The leaves are green and serrated along the edges, though some varieties have a variegated color and more deeply-toothed margins. Cuban oregano has a strong, pungent and musky aroma, with a flavor profile that is similar to traditional Italian oregano with a hint of thyme.
The origin of Cuban oregano may be traced using its scientific name, Plectranthus amboinicus. The Latin name of the species ‘amboinicus’ may refer to Ambon, a small but fertile, mountainous island in Indonesia. Cuttings were likely spread to Africa, the West Indies and Latin America and propagated by Spanish explorers and travelers. There is a dispute regarding its origin – some claim Cuban oregano is native to eastern Africa. Despite the claims, Cuban oregano has existed in the coastal regions of the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean for centuries. A hardy plant, Cuban oregano grows well in USDA Zones 10 and 11.
- Soft succulents will not survive a hard frost, but if there is a risk of freezing temperatures, they can be brought indoors to grow on a sunny window sill or under a grow light. They need ample sunlight, good drainage, and infrequent water to prevent rot. Pick containers with drainage holes and use well-draining cactus and succulent soil with 50% to 70% mineral grit such as coarse sand, pumice, or perlite. Water deeply enough for water to run out the drainage hole, then wait for the soil to fully dry before watering again.
PLECTRANTHUS AMBOINICUS is a tender perennial herb with many common names including Cuban oregano, Spanish thyme, oregano brujo, broadleaf thyme and big thyme.
- THE LEAVES ARE CHOPPED and used with stuffing, salads and meats. It can also be used as a substitute for oregano or sage. If you’ve picked a few leaves for use in the kitchen and didn’t use them all, do not refrigerate what’s left. This is A TROPICAL HERB and refrigerator temperatures quickly cause brown deteriorating spots. Excess leaves store very well in a sealed plastic baggie or container at room temperature for up to two weeks.
- THE LEAVES ARE LARGE, FLESHY AND COVERED WITH FINE HAIRS.
- IN THE FULL SUN THE LEAVES ARE GENERALLY 3-4 inches in diameter, but with a little shade they can easily reach 6″ or more in length. Long stems tend to flop over, so keep the plant compact by frequent harvest of the growing tips for use in the kitchen.
- OLDER PLANTS ARE NOT VIGOROUS, so I like to plant fresh starts each spring that quickly become large specimens. Cuban oregano thrives in sun or part shade. There is also a variegated form that is slower-growing.
CUBAN OREGANO can be used in place of other oregano varieties, thyme or other herbs with a similar flavor profile. The pungent aroma and strong flavor of Cuban oregano pairs well with meat and fish. Stuff pork with fresh Cuban oregano or use to marinate chicken or beef. Cuban oregano can also be sautéed along with assorted vegetables, or added to soups and stews as an aromatic. Store unwashed Cuban oregano in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Annual herbs can be planted in the garden in spring. Annual herbs are also ideal for containers. Pots can be brought indoors for the winter and placed near a sunny window for harvesting through the cold months. Return the plants outdoors in the spring when the danger of frost is past, or simply replace with fresh plants
- Prepare the garden by breaking up the existing soil (use a hoe, spade, or power tiller) to a depth of 12-16” (30-40cm). Add ORGANIC MATTER SUCH AS MANURE, peat moss or garden compost until the soil is loose and easy to work. Organic ingredients improve drainage, add nutrients, and encourage earthworms and other organisms that help keep soil healthy.
- CHECK THE PLANT LABEL for suggested spacing and the mature height of the plant. Position plants so that taller plants are in the center or background of the landscape design and shorter plants in the foreground. To remove the plant from the container, gently brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot.
- Dig the hole up to two times larger than the root ball and deep enough that the plant will be at the SAME LEVEL IN THE GROUND AS THE SOIL LEVEL IN THE CONTAINER. Grasping the plant at the top of the root ball, use your finger to lightly rake apart the lower roots apart. This is especially important if the roots are dense and have filled up the container. Set the plant in the hole.
- PUSH THE SOIL GENTLY AROUND THE ROOTS FILLING IN EMPTY SPACE AROUND THE ROOT BALL. FIRM THE SOIL DOWN AROUND THE PLANT by hand, tamping with the flat side of a small trowel, or even by pressing down on the soil by foot. The soil covering the planting hole should be even with the surrounding soil, or up to one inch higher than the top of the root ball. New plantings should be watered daily for a couple of weeks to get them well established.
- Finish up with a 2” (5cm) layer of mulch such as shredded bark or compost to make the garden look tidy, reduce weeds, and retain soil moisture.
- If planting the herbs in a container, start with a good quality, commercial potting soil. These are usually lighter in weight than topsoil, sterile and pest-free. Many are available with a MILD STARTER FERTILIZER in the mix.
- SELECT A CONTAINER WITH A DRAINAGE HOLE or be prepared to drill holes for drainage if there are none.
- PREPARE THE CONTAINER FILLING WITH SOIL UP TO 2” (5cm) FROM THE RIM OF THE PLANTER.REMOVE THE PLANT FROM ITS POT OR PACK. Make a SMALL HOLE IN THE SOIL slightly larger than the root ball either by hand or using a trowel. Insert the plant into the hole and press soil firmly around the roots and just covering the root ball. When all the plants are potted, water thoroughly to settle the soil and give plants a good start.
- NEW PLANTINGS SHOULD BE WATERED DAILY FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS. After that, DEPENDING ON THE WEATHER AND SOIL TYPE, watering may be ADJUSTED TO EVERY TWO OR THREE DAYS. CLAY SOILS HOLD MOISTURE LONGER THEN SANDY SOILS, so expect to WATER MORE frequently in SANDY SETTINGS.
- DIFFERENT PLANTS HAVE DIFFERENT WATER NEEDS. Some plants PREFER STAYING ON THE DRY SIDE, others, like to be CINSISTENTLY MOIST, refer to the plant label to check a plant’s specific requirements.
- Thoroughly soaking the ground up to 8” (20 cm) EVERY FEW DAYS IS BETTER THAN WATERING A LITTLE BIT DAILY. DEEP WATERING ENCOURAGES ROOTS TO GROW FURTHER INTO THE GROUND RESULTING IN A STURDIER PLANT WITH MORE DROUGHT TOLERANCE.
- TO CHECK FOR SOIL MOISTURE, USE YOUR FINGER OR A SMALL TROWEL TO DIG IN AND EXAMINE THE SOIL, If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.
- PLANTS IN CONTAINERS CAN DRY OUT QUICKLY, DEPENDING ON THE WEATHER, and MAY NEED WATER MORE FREQUENTLY than plants in the garden bed. APPLY WATER AT THE SOIL LEVEL if possible, to AVOID WETTING THE FOLIAGE. WATER THE ENTIRE SOIL AREA UNTIL WATER RUNS OUT THE BASE OF THE POT. This indicates that the soil is THOROUGHLY WET.
- Herbs PLANTED IN THE GARDEN DON’T REQUIRE ADDITIONAL FERTILIZER. Apply a 1-2” (3-5cm) layer of mulch or compost. As mulch breaks down it SUPPLIES NUTRIENTS to the plants and IMPROVES THE OVERALL SOIL CONDITION AT THE SAME TIME.
- HERBS IN CONTAINERS CAN BE FED LIGHLY WITH A GENERAL-PURPOSE FERTILIZER AT HALF THE RATE SUGGESTED ON THE PACKAGE DIRECTIONS
Invest in a good, sharp hand pruner or knife for harvesting. Pinching the stems off can cause damage to the main plant.
- Herbs can be HARVESTED THROUGHOUT THE GROWING SEASON TO BE USED FRES, DRIED OR FROZEN. It’s BEST NOT TO PRUNE MORE THAN 50% of the foliage AT ONE TIME. This keeps the plant healthy and producing new growth for continuous harvesting.
- UNLESS YOU ARE GROWING AN HERB SPECIFICALLY FOR ITS FLOWERS (such as lavender), or seed production (such as fennel), it is BEST TO REMOVE FLOWER BUDS AS THEY APPEAR. This keeps the plant’s energy focused on foliage production instead of blooms and seeds.
- HARVEST HERBS IN THE MORNING, when the plant OILS ARE AT THEIR PEAK. Prepare herb cuttings for use by GENTLY WASHING AND DRYING the foliage. If planning to preserve the herbs, check foliage for INSECTS OR EGGS AS WELL. HERBS CAN BE DRIED OR FROZEN FOR FUTURE USE. The general rule for use in cooking is, USE TWICE AS MUCH FRESH OR FROZEN HERB AS COMPARED TO DRIED HERB
- HARVEST SEEDS WHEN THE FLOWERS START TO FACE AND TURN BROWN, BUT BEFORE THE SEEDS FALL FROM THE PLANT.