Plectranthus hadiensis var. tomentosus (Vicks Plant)

Plectranthus hadiensis var. tomentosus (Vicks Plant)

Scientific Name

Plectranthus hadiensis var. tomentosus (Benth.) Codd

Accepted Scientific Name

Plectranthus hadiensis (Forssk.) Schweinf. ex Sprenger

Common Names

Vicks Plant, Succulent Coleus, Cuban Oregano


Plectranthus tomentosus, Plectranthus tomentosa, Plectranthus zatarhendii var. tomentosus

Scientific Classification

Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae
Tribe: Ocimeae
Genus: Plectranthus


Plectranthus hadiensis var. tomentosus, also known as Plectranthus tomentosus or Plectranthus tomentosa, is a perennial, semi-succulent subshrub with aromatic leaves. It grows up to 1 foot (30 cm) tall and spreads up to 2.5 feet (75 cm) in diameter. Lower stems can become very woody with age. Opposite leaves are light green, broadly ovate with scalloped margins, and densely covered with short hairs. Flowers are white to light purple and appear in early spring and again in the fall.


USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Plectranthus species are easily cultivated and require little extra attention or special treatment. They enjoy well-composted soil and, as a rule, thrive in semi-shade or cool positions on south-facing aspects. These plants are ideally suited to growth under the shade of trees. They are generally shallow rooted and enjoy adequate water. However, Plectranthus do store water in their stems and are resistant to prolonged periods of drought.

These plants are often grown for their attractive foliage, flowers, or both and vary in their growth forms from dense prostrate ground covers to sub-shrubs and large shrubs.

Although they are frost tender Plectranthus are usually grown in shady, protected places and, as such, are afforded some protection from frost. Because they flower at the end of the growing season, frost does not affect flowering. If the plants are affected by frost, they can be cut back at the end of winter and will grow out rapidly. Once the plants have been established for a year or more, they become woodier at the base and are more resistant to frost damage.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Plectranthus.


Plectranthus hadiensis is native to South Africa.


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Plectranthus tomentosus is a perennial, succulent-like herb or branched subshrubs with aromatic leaves spreading approximately 50-75 cm round. It is commonly known as the "Vicks Plant" for its leaves that smell like Vick's Vap-O-Rub or mentholatum when crushed.

Grows in savanna and dry forested regions. It is used to treat intestinal upsets. The flowers are white to light purple, and exceptionally attractive to honey bees. Give this one room, as it can spread to three of four feet across. Prune back by half every six months to reduce woodiness. Has a strong camphor aroma overlaying. Excellent in herb mixtures (usually very hard to find). Very fast growing - ideal for filling empty spots.

The plant prefers dry conditions, very drought tolerant.

1162 Plectranthus hadiensis tomentosus - Camphor Basil

Camphor plant - previously called as Ocimum kilimanscharicum. Wonderful scent! Very rare herb great for ground cover, xeriscape or rock garden, needs no care, grows fast, very drought tolerant. Plant it along walkway and enjoy pleasant scent as you walk by or brush on it.
SUNSHINE Robusta - Rapid Growth Booster
Tropical Allure - Smart-Release Booster
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Height and Structure

  • A common mature plant grows up to 2 feet (60cm) and spreads about 2.5 feet (75cm).
  • The plant body is decumbent and freely branched.
  • The structure of these plants is variable according to the method of cutting and the growing place. They may form cascading vines, ground covers, or subshrubs depending upon the maintenance.


  • The size of a mature leaf is about 2 to 3 inches.
  • Opposite leaves are covered with short hairy outgrowths.


  • The plant produces beautiful white to light purple Vicks Plant Flowers.
  • The unique delicate flowers grow on long and thin stems.
  • The plant blooms twice a year. Once in the early spring and later in the cooler days of the fall.


  • It is always better not to let kids and pets mingle with plants. However, the Succulent coleus is generally known to be pet safe.

Plectranthus hadiensis is a perennial herbaceous shrub with pubescent and semi-succulent stems, and a straight to decumbent habit. Its height varies 50 cm to 1.5 m, with a maximum base diameter of 1m.The leaves of the plant are arranged alternately on the plant's stem, they have coarse textures an ovate shape densely woolly-tomentose are apex acute to rounded, cuneate with subcordate base and a superficial to fairly crenate-dentate margin. The petiole is 10 to 40 mm long. The terminal inflorescences of the plant are simple and have 1 to 2 pairs of lateral branches near the base. The flowers of the plant are generally in shades of mauve to purple (occasionally white), and are bilabiated with a tube-shaped corolla of 8 to 15 mm that widens from the base, finely pubescent and with glands on the lips.

There are three varieties of P. hadiensis:

  • Variety hadiensis, distributed in coastal and midland areas of the KwaZulu-Natal woodlands and the east of South Africa
  • Variety tomentosus, in semi-coastal zones from the Great Kei River to the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
  • Variety woodii, distributed in arid habitats in eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

The species is found in Transkei, Natal, Swaziland, the Transvaal, eastern tropical Africa, Somalia and the southern Arabian Peninsula. The plant can be found on the fringes of forests, in dry forests and amongst rocks in grasslands and lowlands. [2]

Plectranthus hadiensis is widely used as an ornamental plant because it is easy to cultivate, propagate and maintain. The compounds of the plant were formerly used to poison fish and more traditionally as an enema. In popular culture it is used to ward off evil spirits.

The plant's use as a pharmacological agent is being investigated as it contains large quantities of essential oils, it is also being investigated for use against respiratory infections. [ citation needed ] However, ointments made with compounds extracted from the plant must not contain menthol, camphor or eucalyptus. [3]

Plectranthus hadiensis was discovered by Peter Forsskål in Hadiyah, Yemen. It was described in Flora of Egypt and Arabia in 1775 with the name Ocimum hadiensis. At that time the genus Plectranthus had not been established, however it was the first species of the genus described and in 1894 the botanists Schweinfurth and Sprenger transferred it to the new genus, publishing it in Wiener Illustrirte Garten-Zeitung 19: 2. 1894. [4]

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