Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: Windowsill Update

Windowsill greenery

Following last year's Windowsill makeover, I'm pleased to report my basket of plants has filled out nicely and continues to look good in the kitchen one year on. The Aloe vera can be pressed into burns relief duties if needed, and the two Plectranthus on either side don't seem to mind being hacked back occasionally to keep them within bounds.

For this month's Blooms Day it's the plant on the left which is of interest...

... fifteen months on from when Barbara gave me a cutting it has a few spikes of delicate white blooms. I thought they looked a little Salvia-like, so it's no surprise she says it's one of South Africa's indigenous sages, aka Plectranthus grandidentatus, aka vicks plant*. As well as looking sage-like, I also think the flowers are sticking their tongues out.

Barbara goes on to say:

"... it was growing between the plum trees etc at a wonderful winery I visited in South Africa a few years back, Babylonstoren." The link takes you Barbara's blog post about her visit; it'll make you want to go there immediately.

The PlantzAfrica website has a few more names up its sleeve - scented-leaved spurflower, big toothed spurflower and groottand spoorsalie. I can confirm its rating as easy to grow and the prostrate habit, though I've yet to let my specimen achieve its full height of 1 to 2 feet.

The leaves have the most amazing scent. I see I described them last year as having a distinct minty overtone; currently they're much more medicinal in character. The PlantzAfrica website says it has no known uses (which the Plants for a Future Database seems to confirm as there's no entry), but Barbara thinks the name vicks plant suggests there might be some medicinal use. Bingo! Vicks VapoRub is exactly the medicinal aroma I can smell, come to think of it.

* = Google seems to think vicks plant refers to Plectranthus tomentosa, which looks subtly different to the plant Barbara gave me.

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. I look forward to seeing you in Texas next year, Carol!

Another view of Plectranthus grandidentatus

Latin without tears

The grandidentatus species name makes me smile because it means 'with large teeth' in Latin (grandis = large and dentatus = toothed); it describes the leaves' character exactly as seen in the photo.

Plectranthus is derived from the Greek; from plectron meaning spur and anthos for flower, hence the spurflower common name. These characters are also seen in the flowers in the photo, though secretly I've renamed it tongueflower ;)

Tomentosa means hairy in Latin, so you can see from the photo this would also be a suitable species name for my plant. I'm quietly pleased I have a grandidentatus as it sounds more imposing; tomentosa is a bit too close to torment for comfort in my view.


  1. With interesting leaves and a cute bloom it's a winner!
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

    1. Thanks Lea - if grown outdoors (too cold here in the UK) this plant attracts pollinators too :)

  2. Babylonstoren is already on my list. I'd been looking for a winter break, which didn't happen in the end, but that was one of the places I was definitely going to visit. But if I go all that way and the blooms stick their tongues out at me..

  3. I have a Pelargonium tomentosum - that I think of as velvety, and delicious minty fragrance. We are not at all hairy!

    1. Yes, velvety is a much better description... which would make it velutinae in Latin :)

  4. Your aloe vera looks light and constrained. I'm usually not struck on it as it can be horribly bulky and lumpy and fall-overy.

    1. That's exactly what it was like this time last year when I did the windowsill makeover Lucy!

  5. Enjoyed your write-up of the gardener's gift plant and will have a look at the tomentosum to see if it could be a possible contender. The other plectranthus in your windowsill basket is Plectranthus amboinicus (I think that is the spelling), which we used in South Africa, as a marjoram substitute. It has a really strong beefy flavour, great in stews etc.

    1. Hi Barbara - yes, I wrote about amboinicus last year because you'd given me so much good information about it. You were unsure of the other, but now you've confirmed what it is... and it's flowering, an update was timely :)


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