African Potato Mint (Plectranthus esculentus)

5.0
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
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African Potato Mint (Coleus esculentus syn. Plectranthus esculentus) is a fascinating and versatile herbaceous perennial plant that captures attention with its distinctive appearance and culinary potential. This herb, belonging to the Lamiaceae family, originates from various tropical and subtropical regions across Africa, where it has been cherished for generations for both its edible tubers and flavorful leaves.

Foliage:
The plant boasts lush and vibrant foliage, with leaves that are a striking blend of deep green and purple hues. The leaves are typically heart-shaped, growing in pairs along the stem. Their serrated edges add an intriguing texture to the overall appearance. When crushed or brushed against, the leaves emit a delightful minty fragrance, reminiscent of traditional mint plants.

Growth Habit:
African Potato Mint exhibits a bushy and compact growth habit, making it suitable for both garden beds and container cultivation. It reaches a height of approximately 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) and spreads out to form a dense clump.

Flowers:
While the plant is primarily grown for its edible tubers and leaves, it also produces small, tubular flowers that cluster together in whorls along the upper portion of the stems. These flowers, which may range in color from pale lavender to pink, add a touch of visual appeal to the plant during the flowering season.

Edible Tubers and Leaves:
One of the most remarkable features of African Potato Mint is its underground tubers, which are a valuable food source. These tubers have a nutty and slightly starchy flavor, making them a unique addition to culinary creations. They can be cooked, boiled, or fried, similar to other root vegetables. Additionally, the leaves of the plant can be used as a flavorful herb, adding a hint of minty taste to dishes.

Whether you're drawn to its aesthetic charm or enticed by its culinary and potential medicinal benefits, Coleus esculentus, the African Potato Mint, offers a delightful and intriguing addition to the world of plants.

Quick Care Guide

Plant Type:

Perennial of Annual Herb, Tuber

Harvest Season:

Late Summer-Fall.  Tubers that are planted in the spring can be harvested the following fall or after 180–200 days. Requires about 6 months of warm to hot growing conditions to yield mature tubers.

Mature Size: Up to 3 ft.
Soil & Moisture:  Rich, well-draining soil
Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
Self-Fertile: Yes
Growth Rate: Very Fast
Zone Hardiness: Outdoors 9-11 with frost protection; Patio/Greenhouse 4+
Propagation: Our Potato Mint is grown from cutting or root divisiion and is capable of harvesting within one growing season.

How to Grow African Potato Mint Plants

Growing African Potato Mint (Plectranthus esculentus) is a rewarding experience, as this versatile herb is relatively easy to cultivate. Here are the steps to successfully grow African Potato Mint:

Climate and Soil:

African Potato Mint thrives in warm, tropical to subtropical climates. It prefers well-draining soil with good fertility. Sandy loam or loamy soil is ideal for its growth.

Propagation:

You can propagate African Potato Mint from seeds or stem cuttings. If using seeds, sow them in seed-starting trays filled with potting mix and lightly cover them with soil. Keep the soil consistently moist until germination occurs. For stem cuttings, take a 4-6 inch cutting from a healthy, mature plant and plant it in a pot filled with moist potting mix. Ensure the cutting is kept in a warm and humid environment until it establishes roots.

Planting:

Once your seedlings or cuttings are ready, transplant them into larger pots or directly into the ground. Space the plants about 12 to 18 inches apart to give them room to spread.

Sunlight:

African Potato Mint prefers partial shade to full sun. If you are in a hot climate, provide it some shade during the hottest part of the day to prevent stress on the plant.

Watering:

Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. African Potato Mint prefers regular watering but can tolerate short periods of dryness. Use a watering can or drip irrigation to water at the base of the plant, avoiding wetting the leaves excessively.

Fertilization:

African Potato Mint doesn't require heavy feeding. You can apply a balanced organic fertilizer once every month during the growing season to promote healthy growth.

Pruning:

Regularly pinch back the growing tips to encourage bushier growth and prevent the plant from becoming leggy. Pruning also helps in harvesting leaves without harming the plant.

Pest and Disease Control:

African Potato Mint is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, keep an eye out for common garden pests like aphids and spider mites. If necessary, use organic insecticidal soap to control pest infestations.

Harvesting:

Once the plant has matured and established, you can start harvesting the leaves for culinary or medicinal use. Harvest young, tender leaves regularly to encourage new growth.

Overwintering:

In colder climates, African Potato Mint may not survive frost. You can either bring potted plants indoors during winter or take stem cuttings to propagate new plants in spring.

    With proper care and attention, African Potato Mint can become a thriving addition to your garden, providing you with a fresh supply of aromatic leaves for culinary delights and herbal remedies.

    5.0
    Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Based on 2 reviews
    Total 5 star reviews: 2 Total 4 star reviews: 0 Total 3 star reviews: 0 Total 2 star reviews: 0 Total 1 star reviews: 0
    100%would recommend this product
    2 reviews
    • L
      Lisa
      I recommend this product
      Rated 5 out of 5 stars
      4 months ago
      5 Stars

      Really unique plant

    • T
      Tyler
      I recommend this product
      Rated 5 out of 5 stars
      3 years ago
      Fast growers

      This plant really took off! I ordered one and now it looks like 20 after 2 months. They'd make a great groundcover.

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