Spanish Thyme, Cuban Oregano, Indian Borage
Plectranthus amboinicus

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Plectranthus (plek-TRAN-thus) (Info)
Species: amboinicus (am-boy-IN-ih-kuss) (Info)
Synonym:Coleus amboinicus
Synonym:Coleus aromaticus
Synonym:Plectranthus aromaticus
View this plant in a garden

Category:

Annuals

Herbs

Perennials

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us

Height:

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

Spacing:

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

Hardiness:

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)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:

N/A

Bloom Color:

Rose/Mauve

Violet/Lavender

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Mid Spring

Foliage:

Grown for foliage

Evergreen

Aromatic

Velvet/Fuzzy-Textured

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From leaf cuttings

From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us

Regional

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

Grenoble,

Carlsbad, California

Clovis, California

Hayward, California

Oxnard, California

San Diego, California

San Leandro, California

San Pedro, California

Simi Valley, California

Valley Village, California

Van Nuys, California

Fort Collins, Colorado

Brandon, Florida

Cape Coral, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Fort Myers, Florida

Homestead, Florida

Interlachen, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Lake Helen, Florida

Lake Worth, Florida

Melbourne, Florida

Miami, Florida

Ocoee, Florida

Panama City, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida

Port Richey, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Sanford, Florida

Seffner, Florida

Tampa, Florida (3 reports)

Zephyrhills, Florida

Tucker, Georgia

Honomu, Hawaii

Wahiawa, Hawaii

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Prospect, Kentucky

Clinton, Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland

Quincy, Massachusetts

Saugus, Massachusetts

Auburn Hills, Michigan

Dearborn, Michigan

Madison, Mississippi

Astoria, New York

Southold, New York

Summit, New York

Albemarle, North Carolina

Sunset Beach, North Carolina

Dayton, Ohio

Prosperity, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Lenoir City, Tennessee

Hallettsville, Texas

Houston, Texas

Spring Branch, Texas

Sugar Land, Texas

Norfolk, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

31
positives
1
neutral
1
negative
RatingContent
Negative

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.

Positive

On Mar 22, 2015, AliseF from Montreal
Canada wrote:

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

Positive

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

Positive

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.

Neutral

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.

Positive

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.

thank you very much.

Positive

On May 28, 2013, BarbiS from 4551
Australia wrote:

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

Positive

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.

Positive

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!

Positive

On Mar 25, 2012, Bucephalus from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

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 !!

Positive

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.

Positive

On Dec 28, 2010, MemP from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

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

Positive

On Aug 22, 2010, RachelOneLove from Saskatchewan
Canada wrote:

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

Positive

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

Positive

On Jun 19, 2010, Gangajay from Marine Parade
Singapore wrote:

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.

Positive

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.

Positive

On Dec 15, 2008, rntx22 from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) 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.

Positive

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

Positive

On May 5, 2008, astcgirl from Davidsonville, MD (Zone 6b) 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.

Positive

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

Positive

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! :)

Positive

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.

Positive

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

Positive

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

Positive

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

Positive

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

Positive

On May 9, 2005, Gambitshand from Port Moody
Canada wrote:

i love the smell and tha rate it grows.

Positive

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

Positive

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.

Positive

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

Positive

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

Positive

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.

Positive

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.