Vicks Plant, Menthol Plant and Patchouli Resent Indoor Conditions
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: JuDee
Posted on: November 18, 2001

I bought a Vicks plant & a menthol plant from you this summer. I left them outside in a shady area in clay pots and watered about 1-2 times per week. When it got cold, I brought them in & they are really doing badly. The Vicks plant is nearly dried up & the menthol is close behind. They were doing so well outside, but in Montana, USA I wasn’t planning to leave them out over the winter. I have continued to water 1-2 times a week & moved to low sun like they had outside, but no improvement. Help! What do they need, and do you sell the seeds for them, I am very close to losing the Vicks plant and the menthol will go too unless I can figure out what they need. They were thriving outside.

You might have a problem with spider mites. They love these plants and moving indoors meant that conditions became very favourable for their reproduction - and it seems they came in without their natural predators. Their natural predators usually stop reproducing at temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) and tend to then die out. Wash the plants off once a day with a strong spray of cold water, then spray with insecticidal soap, repeat the spray twice more, eight hours apart. Doing this for 3 days should solve the problem. If you want an inorganic method, spraying twice 3 days apart with pentac works wonders! Pentac is fairly harmless to mammals and is the only inorganic miticide I recommend.

We are sorry, but we have never had either of these plants set seed for us and have never found anyone who offers seed for them. They may be sterile cultivars.

Also make sure the plants receive as much light as you can give them. This will result in harder growth, which is less susceptible to spider mites.

Any tips also, on growing patchouli in Montana, USA? Any seeds for patchouli?

Patchouli must be wintered indoors as it cannot tolerate even temperatures close to freezing. It likes a humid atmosphere and heat and medium light- even though it looks like a succulent. Spider mites trouble it too. We do offer seed of this plant periodically. (Richters catalogue number S4450)

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