How would I grow Patchouli or Vicks Plant?

cweathersbyMay 2, 2005

I bought both of these this weekend but can't find much information on how to grow them. They are both tender plants and will have to be brought in for the winter. What else do I need to know?

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Patchouli is pogostemon patchouli, it likes good sun and rich, moist soil, and will go belly-up if the temp drops below 50.

Vicks plant is a plectranthus species, it is a succulent, so it likes a lot of sun, but let the soil get dry before you water it, then give it a good drench. You may have a hard time killing this one, it's pretty tough, though not cold hardy.

Hope this helps!


    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 9:28AM
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Patchouli is an understory plant and very easy to kill. In my experience letting it dry out at all is lethal. It likes to be warm and moist.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 11:55AM
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If Vicks is a succulent, can you propogate like other succulents?

Also, if both of these can be grown indoors, how can they live in full sun outside?


    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 12:22PM
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I struggled with patchouli for several years and am willing to try again. In the course of my struggles, I found enough information on the Web to correct my misapprehension that patchouli likes sun. It really doesn't like full sun. In the plantations where they produce it commercially, they grow it under larger canopy trees. I could keep it healthy and happy for a few months on a sunny porch and then it would accidently dry out and quickly go into a decline. The slightest wilt seemed to signal inevitable death. It probably would do well in partial sun if kept moist. It likes warmth, but not dry heat or direct sun. So it might do well in a warm window with bright indirect light. Or outdoors in filtered light with plenty of moisture.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 6:49PM
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Can I do anything with a vicks plant? I never heard of it til a couple days ago. I bought one and was wondering if I could use it for anything. Is this what Vicks is actually made from? Thanks, Ruth Ann

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 2:43AM
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flowersandthings(MidAtlantic 6/7)

What's a vicks plant? Vicks I believe is made from petrolatum jelly and some other oils etc. like menthol and (in the herbal versions?) eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is eucaluptus and menthol is menthol (crystals or oil) which is derived I believer primarily from minty etc. plants like peppermint. What does your plant look like? Can you upload a picture? What does it smell like?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 12:18AM
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OK, here we go:

"Vicks Plant" is plectranthus tomentosa, a tropical, succulent herb in the same family as Cuban Oregano (not an actual oregano) and Swedish Ivy (not an ivy).

The reason why these names developed is that these are relatively new discoveries to Western culture and science, and people usually name a new plant after something familiar that looks/smells/acts the same.

So, vicks plant smells like Vicks vapor rub, due to similar chemical compounds in the leaves; Cuban oregano smells kinda like oregano; Swedish ivy looks and grows kinda like ivy.

All of them can be rooted in regular potting soil or water, pretty easily.

Other than potpourri, I don't know what you'd do with Vick's plant. I've tried Cuban oregano in bean and rice dishes, but the flavor is strong and a bit chemical -- I'll stick with my Mexican oregano, which isn't an oregano either, but in the mint family. ;>)


    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 9:59AM
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Bmonkey(z8 Central TX)

I have both. Bugs ate holes in my Patchouli outside and the leaves drooped, so I moved it inside and keep it moist. It is happy. I leave in in indirect sun most of the time and move it to a sunny spot on occasion.

My Vick's plant is happy (HUGE!) outside in a well watered pot shared with an Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta) that somehow appeared there!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 3:37PM
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Does anyone know if you can cut back a Patchouli plant? One of mine is getting over a mealy bug infestation and is very thin until the very top of the stems....would like it to bush out more. Thanks

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 4:39PM
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jflo(CA z9)

Not an expert or anything, but I did cut back my patchouli plant last year and it has grown back fine. In general, I find it to be a fast grower that quickly outgrows it pots. I was successful at growing it from a cutting too, but I completely forgot about the little one and it died.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 3:31PM
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My patchouly is approx 3' tall. You can take cuttings easily, just make sure to root them in shade and with no hot, drying wind. I have mine in the shade of a grapefruit tree overhanging from the neighbors.
With patchouly, it's photo-periodic which means it's like an xmas cactus/poinsettia in that if it gets light on it after dark around Nov., it won't flower.
I like to cut the flower heads as they are more fragrant than the leaves.
p.s. frost and drying out will kill this plant.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 2:43PM
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Ragdoll(8b Fl.)

I grow my Vicks plant in partial shade and sandy soil.
I use it as an infusion when I have a cold.
Just rubbing the leaves and inhale them, clears the sinuses right away.
Enjoy, I love this plant.
Bye Lola.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 10:16PM
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leafylea(Australia. Quee)

Mine is about 3ft as well. I've found they need some sun to get lots of flowers and the very fragrant seed heads that follow.
I trim these often and make use of the perfume. This light trimming seems to make it grow better. Cheers L

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 11:27PM
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HI well I'm greatful for all this information, now I'm wondering how to get a plant here in the prairies of manitoba Canada? Can anyone help me? Does anyone want to trade for something?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 6:11PM
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Hi! Sorry if this message comes through multiple times. I'm having trouble previewing it. It's like it disappears. Anywhoo, you can get patchouli plants at Sage Garden in Winnipeg. It's on St. Mary's road about a mile or so south of the perimeter on the right hand side. Here is their website address: They have an online catalogue.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 5:35PM
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I have always loved the smell of Patchouli and this spring I decided to buy 12 plants from a Canadian nursery. The plants came and were very yellow from the trip but bounced back well with water and some time on the windowsill. I had many conflicting bits of information about how to grow this plant so I did some testing. Some plants I put outside in light sunlight and some I put outside in indirect sunlight. I put 2 plants per 6 inch pot in rich potting soil. The plants in indirect sun did the best. They did so well that I move all my plants into indirect sunlight. Now all of my plants are doing very well and are about 20 inches high with 3 to 4 inch aromatic leaves. They are very bushy and have not become rangy like some people have mentioned. I believe this is do to being in pots and not in the ground. I will move them into the house when the cold weather comes and write to you all how the do through the winter.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 7:03PM
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To mommymc: If you're still looking for the Vicks plant;
you can get them from up in Canada. I was very happy with the plants I received from them. I've been growing mine indoors-outdoors; they get about 3 hours of direct sun and about 4-5 hours bright, indirect light
at present temps of 50-75F. I bring them in when the day cools down. I have them potted in a mix of potting soil, coir fiber, and water crystals. They've been doing great so far. Only, one problem...the pictures that I've seen of the plant show thin leaves like a coleus. Mine has nice fat, puffy leaves!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 2:25AM
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would like to know where to buy a patchoulli plant and a vicks plant?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 6:41PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Logees and Almost Eden offer patchouli. For the vicks plant, go to JimShy's post on this thread. He gives you the botanical name for it. Enter the botanical name in the Logees or Almost Eden website and see if they offer it.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 5:16AM
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