A New (to me) Mint

As much as I enjoy meeting new people and finding out what makes them tick, encountering a new (to me) plant genus is a close second. I’ve been familiar for years with the various plants in the mint family. Of course the peppermint, the spearmint (I can’t help but think of those twins), lemon balm — all aliens, but then there are the more subtle native mountain mints (Pycnanthemum species), the native horehound and suchlike.

I was at Lowe’s a month or so ago and I was captivated by a very showy plant they had for sale. Such blossoms! I had to buy one, but after I had hung it up as a hanging plant out on my porch I felt troubled. Where did this plant come from? Why was Lowe’s selling it?

The tag said that the plant was a Plectranthus hybrid which had been given the name “Mona Lavender”. I did some Googling and found out that the plant was developed by a botanist and plant-breeder at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in South Africa during the 1990s. The blooms of the plant are quite beautiful and I would guess that hummingbirds would like them.

A quote from a South African web-site:

There are many Plectranthus species that are used as ornamental herbaceous plants for the garden, not only in South Africa, but all around the world. Most of these come from the more subtropical/tropical areas of southern Africa. They come in a number of shapes and colour forms ranging from white, through pink to dark mauves and lavenders. Being so easy to propagate from cuttings, they are readily shared amongst keen gardeners and are one of the few plants that grow well in shade.

A photo:

The plant is a perennial and I’ll move it inside before the frosts become severe this fall.

Larry

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