Vick’s Plant

Plectranthus Tomentosus

Common Names:

  • Succulent Coleus
  • Vick’s Plant

The Vicks Plant

This plant has been growing on my “Wall-O-Garden” for a few years now! It is often forgotten until I get a cold or congestion. As many have told me, it is very hard to find and honestly, I do not actually remember where I got it right at this moment. But I probably purchased it during one of many plant buying sprees through my favorite nursery. I keep a complete record of where I purchase and when along with the name of any herbs or plants I plan to sell one day or use in some of my remedies.

Vicks plant (Plectranthus purpuratus) is, as you have found, a hardy house plant. It will be happy in pots, hanging baskets, or summer containers outdoors. It is closely related to Swedish Ivy, and more distantly related to Coleus.

As the name suggests, it has a strong odor similar to that of “Vick’s Vapor Rub”, a common over-the-counter liniment that is rubbed onto the chest to help ease congestion and break chest colds. In fact, the Vicks plant can be used for the same purpose. The leaves can be steeped in boiling water to vaporize the characteristic oils which are then inhaled, helping to clear nasal and respiratory passages. The leaves can also be applied as a poultice or prepared in petroleum jelly-based ointments. Vaseline petroleum jelly works well. Although Vaseline tends to have carcinogens in them, so if you are uncomfortable using Vaseline you can substitute that with Cocoa, shea, and mango butters are natural occlusive ingredients.

Uses for the Vicks Plant

Just like other herbs, this plant offers various health benefits. Its fragrance can clear up sinuses and ease congestion in our respiratory tracts. You can also use its leaves to prepare ointments with petroleum-based jelly, whether to treat inflammation or repel mosquitoes. The plant’s leaves can also help with muscle aches, bruising, or symptoms of arthritis!
However, you should not use it as a substitute for any prescribed medications you are taking to treat illnesses such as asthma.

Caring for your plant, If you are lucky enough to Find a Vicks Plant

Honestly, all I do is water it with all my other plants and transplant it once a year, and trim it whenever it gets too bushy for my Wall-O-Garden. I let it get bushy this time of year since colds, flu, and congestion tend to get more frequent this time of year. When we all get a little sniffly, I have a pot on the top of my wood stove and I will rotate Vicks, Rosemary, Tea Tree, and oregano in the pot to freshen and help our stuffy indoor air.

People tell me that I have a green thumb and more luck with plants than the average person. That may be true, but I really do not think so. I will break down what the “experts” say for the Vicks Plant for you. But again, all I do is water, transplant, and trim. So take what you want from this!

How to Grow and Care for your Vicks Plant

Another awesome thing about the Vicks plant is how easy it is to care for. It’s suitable for beginners, as long as you provide them the proper nutrients and maintain them well.

Here are the requirements of this aromatic plant:

– Light Requirements
The most ideal for your plant is to expose it to bright and indirect light sources. They would also tolerate partial shades. We recommend placing your plant under a cool and well-lit shade, typically under trees, if you plan to grow it outdoors.
For indoor plantation, opt for south-facing windows with the dappled sun, ensuring that you prevent it from getting direct sun exposure.

Water Requirements
Succulents’ leaves have a high content of water storage. Meaning, they do well with medium to low water levels, so follow the “soak and dry” method, a common way to water succulents. To do this, water the soil thoroughly, then leave it to drain first, letting the soil turn dry before watering it again.

Check the soil now and then to create a routine for any weather and season.

The frequency of watering these plants is based on your zone’s temperature and humidity. On average, water the plants 1-2 times a week during the summer. In winter, you can reduce the frequency of watering.

Be sure that you use well-draining soil, as overwatering and excess water levels on the foliage would invite fungus and risk root rot.

What makes these plants great is that they are shallow-rooted but can still store water in their stems. This makes them resistant to drought, so no worries if you forgot to water them once or twice.
Where to plant
Avoid placing your plant in windy locations since they are prone to breakage. If you plan to plant in containers, consider the container’s color, style, and permanent location, which affects your area’s overall design.
These plants do very well in hanging baskets or on the edges of elevated containers. Larger plants are better off in the center of baskets for equal weight distribution.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements
An ideal temperature for these plants is between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, these succulents do not tolerate the cold and frost, so when the weather cools, transfer outdoor plants to warm indoor areas. When placing it indoors, consider using grow lights to give your plant adequate lighting during the darker winter days.

Older plants over a year old would develop woody stems at their base, increasing their resistance to colder temperatures. Those who live in USDA zones 9b to 11b will find that the plant is hardy.

As for its humidity, succulents would tolerate various humidity levels. During dry days, monitor your plant and, if possible, place a humidifier nearby. Avoid misting the plant. The plants can survive in arid environments, and misting might lead to fungus or root rot.

Soil and Fertilizer Requirements
It’s vital to use well-draining soil, usually combining equal parts peat moss and succulent mix. I just use my own potting mix with a little sand mixed in. While these plants are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and are pH tolerant, avoid exposing them to significantly low or high pH levels.

When fertilizing the plants, remember that they aren’t heavy eaters. You can use common half-strength succulent fertilizers once a year during the early spring, using a small quantity of it, or following the fertilizer’s directions. Do this every two weeks throughout the growing season. Personally, I only fertilize when I transplant my plant and it does just fine.

Now, these instructions sound a little complicated but for those of you that feel they need to have all the details on growing plants, the above instruction is a summation of what the collective experts say that I have found.

Wrapping this post up

So to wrap up the Vicks plant. It is great to use for congestion by either boiling in water and inhaling the fumes or putting it in some kind of carrier oil like petroleum jelly or any other type of oil like coconut, shea, or mango butter. It can be used for aches and pains and other ailments listed above.

Growing the plant is much easier than finding one. At least that is what I believe.

So that is it for now on this post. If you have questions feel free to reach out and I will be happy to help. You can join my group here or message me below.

Until next time Keep gardening!


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