Cuban Oregano (Mexican Mint)
Plectranthus amboinicus variegatus
- Type: Annual
- Zone: 10 – 11
- Height: 1 – 3 Feet
- Width: 2 – 9 Feet
- Blooms: Late Winter to Mid-Spring
- Bloom: White, Lavender or Blue
- Sun: Full to Part Sun
- Habit: Spreading
- Soil: Well Drained
- Maintenance: Low
- Leaves: Fragrant, Variegated
- Use: Herb (Pungent)
As with most herbs, good drainage is important, and a bit of compost in the soil is also good. Cuban Oregano (Mexican Mint) will tolerate light shade, but will thrive in full sun. Water well, but sparingly. The soft, succulent leaves and will rot if it stays too wet. The leaves of variegated Cuban oregano are large and bright, making it a striking addition to any area of the landscape. Its name derives from the fact that it is commonly used in Cuban cooking, not from its native habitat, India.
The foliage smells like a combination of oregano, thyme and turpentine while the flavor is minty oregano. Another nickname for it is Vicks Plant. 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 growing requirements. Move 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 is neither Cuban nor oregano. It is native to southern and eastern Africa. Arab traders brought it to the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. It was later introduced into Europe. Later still, the Europeans brought it to the Americas during colonization. Curiously, in Cuba, it is known as French oregano. It has naturalized in many tropical areas of the world. The plant has many other nicknames reflecting its widespread use: Indian borage, Spanish thyme, and Mexican mint to name a few.
Root rot is a problem if soil is too wet.
Herb Garden, Containers.