Plectranthus tomentosa, or Vicks Plant, is a perennial plant with leaves that smell like Vick's Vap-O-Rub or mentholatum when crushed. The light green, succulent, opposite leaves are broadly ovate, up to 3½ inches (9 cm) long, and are densely covered with short hairs. The plants will reach up to 30 inches (75 cm) tall and the lower stems can become very woody. They are of easy culture and are hardy in USDA zones 9-12.
Blooming In early spring and again in the fall, the purple flowers occur in terminal racemes. Individual flowers may reach ½ inch (1.3 cm) in length.
Culture: Plectranthus tomentosa need full sun to partial shade or high interior lighting with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts sand to 1 part loam to 1 part peat moss. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry before watering again. Fertilizer is applied only once during the growing season and it is diluted to ½ strength. If too much water is used, the leaves will turn yellow and get mushy. With overwatering, we have also had some plants where the stems rotted at the soil line. During the winter months, only water enough to keep the leaves from shriveling.
Propagation: Plectranthus tomentosa is propagated from stem cuttings at any time during the growing season.
Plectranthus tomentosa was featured as Plant of the Week November 19-25, 2004.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.