Mother of Herbs




Mother of Herbs, also known as Cuban Oregano or Indian Borage, is a versatile and valuable plant that offers a wide range of benefits for gardeners, culinary enthusiasts, and those interested in natural remedies. This aromatic, succulent plant is native to Southern and Eastern Africa but has been widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including Australia.

Mother of Herbs (Plectranthus amboinicus)

Usually available: All year

Life cycle: Perennial
Height: 50 – 70cm
Position: Sun / part shade
Soil preference: Well drained

Garden Use

In the garden, Mother of Herbs is an attractive and low-maintenance addition to herb gardens, rock gardens, or as a groundcover. Its fleshy, fuzzy leaves are highly ornamental, and the plant can grow up to 1 meter tall and wide. It is drought-tolerant and can thrive in a variety of soil types, making it an easy-to-grow option for both novice and experienced gardeners.

Medicinal Use

Mother of Herbs has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. The leaves contain essential oils with antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used to alleviate respiratory issues, such as coughs, colds, and asthma, as well as to treat skin conditions like insect bites, wounds, and allergies. Consuming the leaves may also aid in digestion and boost the immune system.

Culinary Use

The aromatic leaves of Mother of Herbs have a strong, oregano-like flavor with a hint of thyme and mint. They can be used fresh or dried in a variety of dishes, including soups, stews, marinades, and sauces. The leaves are a popular addition to meat dishes, particularly in Caribbean and Indian cuisine, and can also be used to flavor oils and vinegars.

Other Uses

In addition to its culinary and medicinal uses, Mother of Herbs can be used as a natural insect repellent. The strong aroma of the leaves can help keep pests like mosquitoes and flies at bay when the plant is grown near outdoor living areas or when the leaves are rubbed directly on the skin.

Growing Conditions and Climate in Australia

Mother of Herbs is well-suited to the tropical and subtropical climates found in many parts of Australia. It prefers warm temperatures and can tolerate some shade, making it ideal for growing in coastal regions or under the canopy of larger plants. In cooler areas, it can be grown in containers and brought indoors during winter. The plant is drought-tolerant but benefits from occasional watering during prolonged dry spells.

Interesting Facts and Gardening Tips

  • Mother of Herbs can be easily propagated from stem cuttings, making it simple to share with friends or expand your own collection.
  • The leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season, and regular pruning will encourage bushier growth and prevent the plant from becoming leggy.
  • Companion plants that grow well with Mother of Herbs include other Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, thyme, and basil, as well as ornamental plants like geraniums and marigolds.

With its attractive foliage, versatile uses, and easy-to-grow nature, Mother of Herbs is a valuable addition to any Australian garden. Its medicinal and culinary properties make it a must-have for those interested in natural remedies and unique flavors, while its ornamental qualities and pest-repelling abilities add to its overall appeal.


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