in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Poliomintha maderensis: Lavender Spice

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Form: A shrub with a woody base and herbaceous stems that become woody with age. Its growth pattern is somewhat open and irregular.
Leaf retention: Evergreen above 30°F but stems are damaged by lower temperatures.
Growth rate: Moderate.
Mature Size: 18" high and wide.
Flowers: Tubular, long and narrow, white to purple, one upper lobe, possibly notched, three lower lobes, oregano fragrance. The buds occur in clusters, with only a few blooming at once.
Bloom: Spring to fall.
Fruit: Seed capsule. May be self-incompatible and need another plant close by for pollination.
Leaves: Green, elongated oval, thick, smooth margins, oregano fragrance is especially strong in low water conditions.
Stems: No thorns. Stiff and brittle, becoming woody over time.
Wildlife: Pollinated by hawkmoths. Attracts the occasional butterfly.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Mexico.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8-11.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun except light shade in very hot climates.
Water after becoming established: Monthly. Weekly water ensures continuous flowers, especially in high temperatures. Said to perform less well in regions with high humidity. Responds well to rain.
Soil: Very well drained, dry, pH 6.6-8.5 (neutral to alkaline). Dies in water-logged soil.
Prune: Mid-winter or after last freeze, prune to shape, trimming away winter damage. If badly damaged by freezing, cut it to the ground and allow to regrow. Blooms appear on current season's growth.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Seed and cuttings.
Uses: Ornamental, scent garden if massed, culinary. The leaves can be used as an oregano substitute, but Lippia graveolens: Mexican Oregano is recommended for that purpose.

This plant is a member of the mint family. Another common name is Mexican Oregano, but that name properly belongs to Lippia graveolens: Mexican Oregano, a member of the verbena family.

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Poliomintha maderensis: Lavender Spice / Mexican Oregano - flower

Poliomintha maderensis: Lavender Spice / Mexican Oregano - flowers

Poliomintha maderensis: Lavender Spice / Mexican Oregano