Picture this: it’s summertime, and your indoor herb garden is thriving. But as winter approaches, you notice a significant decline in the health and vibrancy of your plants. Sound familiar? Many of us face this struggle, as the conditions inside our homes during the colder months are far from ideal for picky herbs. So, what can be done? Well, fear not, because I’ve discovered a solution that will keep your herb garden flourishing all year round.
Broadleaf Thyme: A Herb That Can Withstand Winter
Last summer, I received a cutting of an extraordinary herb called Broadleaf thyme (Coleus amboinicus), also known as Cuban oregano, Spanish oregano, or Indian borage. This low-growing herb boasts succulent, broad leaves with a velvety texture, and an unbelievably fragrant aroma. Unlike traditional thyme or oregano plants, Broadleaf thyme can survive indoors, making it the perfect herb to cultivate during the winter months.
Growing Broadleaf Thyme
Growing Broadleaf thyme is a breeze. Simply snip off a chunk of the plant and place it in water or moist soil. This tropical perennial will not survive a cold winter outdoors, but it can thrive inside your home with minimal care. I must confess; I initially neglected my Broadleaf thyme, forgetting about it amidst a flurry of gardening tasks. However, to my surprise, it continued to grow and flourish regardless. This plant truly is a trooper!
To ensure the health of your Broadleaf thyme, find the sunniest spot available. The leaves may appear slightly pale, indicating that the plant can withstand more direct light. Use a standard tropical potting soil with added sand for drainage and a touch of vermicompost for extra nutrition. Water the plant only when the soil is dry, as overwatering can harm herbs. Additionally, pinch back the top set of leaves occasionally to encourage bushier growth, preventing it from becoming leggy.
Utilizing Broadleaf Thyme
Broadleaf thyme boasts an exceptionally pungent flavor and scent, making it a perfect addition to various dishes. Chop it up fresh and add it to black beans, fish dishes, curries, or Jamaican jerk seasonings. In India, people use Broadleaf thyme to flavor beer and wine, showcasing its versatility. Moreover, this herb possesses antibacterial and fungicidal properties, making it suitable for brewing medicinal teas.
The Name Mystery
Now, let’s play a game of Name That Plant! When it comes to Broadleaf thyme, confusion arises due to its various common and Latin names. Some sources suggest that both Coleus amboinicus and Plectranthus amboinicus refer to the same plant, with the former being the name for Broadleaf thyme and the latter for Cuban oregano. However, others argue that Coleus amboinicus represents a larger-leaved variety, while Plectranthus amboinicus denotes a smaller-leaved type. Despite extensive research, a definitive answer remains elusive. Therefore, I present both options for your consideration, leaning towards the latter.
Don’t let the winter season hinder your herb gardening aspirations. With Broadleaf thyme, you can enjoy the flavors and fragrance of fresh herbs all year round. So, why not give it a try? Visit Ames Farm Center to explore a wide range of herbs and kickstart your indoor garden adventure. Happy gardening!