Vick's Plant

Plectranthus tomentosus

Herbs gallery - Vick's Plant

Common names

  • Succulent Coleus
  • Vick's Plant

Vick's plant (scientific name Plectranthus tomentosus) is a hardy as well as succulent plant. The species name of Vick's plant - "tomenstosa" - is a Latin term denoting "cushion stuffing". In fact, the term talks about the tomentum, which is the woolly covering on the plant's leaves. In other words, the term "tomentose" denotes the velvety, fuzzy coating on the entire plant. A glance of the overall Vick's plant reveals that it is a juicy plant.

This plant grows relatively quickly and can often get somewhat leggy. Therefore, it you want the plant to grow robustly, it is advisable that you cut back the plant quite often.

On their underside, the leaves of Vick's plant are ruled with raised veins, while their margins are scalloped. This plant produces large number of attractive, lavender hued flowers.

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It is worth mentioning here that it is quite hard to find this herb. Vick's plant is a tender, perennially growing herb having an excellent spreading nature. It is a compact herb having an attractive cascading growth tendency. It is a wonderful plant for hanging in containers and baskets.

The oval shaped leaves of this plant are fleshy and rounded and when crushed or rubbed, it emits a smell that is akin to the popular over-the-counter rub "Vick’s Vapor Rub". Its potent menthol odour works excellently to repel mosquitoes. As the herb is succulent, it attracts plenty of bees and butterflies.

It is quite easy to propagate the Vick's plant, which blooms twice a year - at the beginning of spring and again at the beginning of fall.

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Briefly speaking Vick's plant or Plectranthus tomentosus is a succulent, branched sub-shrub (shrub-like) that grows perennially and produces aromatic round leaves that spread about 50 cm to 70 cm. This plant especially looks attractive when it is grown in hanging baskets showing beautiful spirals of blue-violet flowers.

The squarish, succulent stems of Vick's plant have patches of fine hairs. The lower part of the stem can become extremely woody. This plant does not have any tuberous base. The bright green, generally ovate (sometimes suborbicular) leaves are also variable and succulent appearing opposite one another on the squarish stem. The leaves are fuzzy textured (velvety), crenate-dentate and densely coated with small fine hairs. The leaves measure about 4 cm to 10 cm in length and 3 cm to 9 cm in width, while the margins have about 6 to 15 pairs of teeth.

The (inflorescence) arrangement of flowers of the Vick's plant is spaced and subspicate and each terminal raceme comprises clusters of anything between 8 and 28 flowers. However, the each flower is sessile (growing on very small stalks). The flowers appear 1 cm to 3 cm apart and measure anything between 8 mm and 13 mm across. The flowers are of varied hues, including deep violet, lavender, light blue and purple. They are also variably hairy.

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Generally, the shape of the bracts vary from ovate to orbicular and are early deciduous. They may measure up to 4 mm. The tube is roughly 5 mm in length. It is deflecting in the central point and expands towards the throat. Each flower has four stamens that are found in the lower ornately curled lip of the corolla.

The Vick's plant belongs to the mint family and its leaves are somewhat slender. Nevertheless, the leaves are very succulent. This plant is known for the mint-like, camphor odour of its leaves, which have remedial properties.

Parts used

Leaves.

Uses

Similar to all other herbs, Vick's plant (Plectranthus tomentosus) offers us numerous health benefits. One major property of this plant is that it naturally clears up sinuses. To use Vick’s plant for this purpose, you just need to trim some of the aerial growth near a mode where you will find branches or two leaves sprouting - doing this will help the plant to have a dense growth similar to pinching back basil. Put the trimmings in a pot containing lightly seething water. Next, cover your head with a cloth and allow the steam to come towards you. Inhale the vapours gently and see the magic.

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As the name of the plant suggests, its odour is very akin to that of 'Vick’s Vapor Rub', a commonly available over-the-counter rub that is rubbed on the chest to break chest colds and ease congestion in the respiratory tract. Actually, the Vick's plant is also employed for the same purpose. You can steep the leaves of the plant in boiling water to vaporize the oils contained by them and inhale the vapour to clear the congestion in the nasal as well as respiratory passages. In addition, the leaves of Vick's plant can also be used in the form of a poultice. Alternatively, they can be used to prepare ointments in petroleum-based jelly. This also works excellently when rubbed on the chest or on the nose. Moreover, the leaves of this plant are wonderful mosquito repellent.

The Vick's plant is also used in the form of poultices that are applied externally. An herbal tea prepared with the leaves of this plant is used for treating various ailments. This herb works well to cure muscle aches, arthritis and bruising. However, one must be careful not to apply the herb on open wounds. Vick's plant is also used in the form of a stimulant rub, which promotes circulation in rigid and cold limbs. As an internal medication, camphor is a very dependable remedy for treating lung congestion and sinuses. Camphor also works like an expectorant helping to loosen up dense mucus and also treats fever when you inhale its vapour. When used externally, this plant works as an astringent and antimicrobial agent.

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You can grow this plant on the deck in hanging baskets, in flower beds around your house as well as plant them facing the windows.

Habitat and cultivation

Plectranthus tomentosus or Vick's plant is grown in gardens as an annual plant. This plant grows well in full sun and in soils that are well-drained. However, the can also endure drier soil. It is advisable that you clip the plant during the winter months for their optimal growth. Vick's plant can be propagated both in soil and water. Ideally, the plant should be kept indoors near a south-facing window.

These plants prefer enough watering, but the soil needs to be dry before the plants are watered again. In case you water the plants excessively, the leaves will gradually become yellow and also soggy.

Vicky’s plant blooms twice - once in the beginning of spring and again in the fall. The plants bear purple hued flowers that appear in the terminal racemes. Since the leaves of Vick's plant are very fleshy, you need to be careful about not watering the plants excessively.

The Vick's plant is soft and succulent and, hence, it needs to be protected from frost as well as heavy rains. Ensure that the plant is always grown in pots having proper drainage. At the same time, the plants need to be placed in full sun and when the soil becomes dry, they need to be watered adequately - deep watering.

The plant propagates asexually and grows roots from the stem cuttings. Division needs to be done during the middle of spring or latter part of the season. However, the stem tip cuttings can be made throughout the year.

Constituents

The Vick's plant contains as many as 44 varieties of volatile substances, which are responsible for its aroma. The 44 types of volatile substances include eight varieties of compounds. About half of these 44 varieties of volatile constituents in the Vick's plant are terpenoids. These terpenoids are basically phytochemicals that form the main constituents of various essential oils. Among the terpenoids contained by Vick's plant, limonene is found in maximum amount. It is worth mentioning here that the smell of citrus plants is attributed to limonene.

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