This Plant Stinks

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Plectranthus neochilus, a very nice plant, similar to the Cuban oregano, Plectranthus amboinicus. but this plectranthus really stinks.
I’m hoping it can fill nepeta’s shoes, a plant impossible to grow with cats roaming the garden. Something tough and textural, not too big.
So far, so good; everyone is avoiding this plant like the plague. Some sleepy mornings I shuffle a little too close, that scent hits the air, and then I’m wide awake.

Stink doesn’t usually bother me in a plant. For example, when I read of gardeners complaining of the stink of clary sage, Salvia sclarea, I think “If only!”
If only the snails would leave it alone, that is, I’d put up with whatever stink it has to offer. Melianthus major, the honeybush, has its own peculiar odor.
Whether it strikes you as peanut butter or old socks, it’s not a scent to delight in.

But this plectranthus is pushing even my tolerance for stink. Distinctly skunk-like.
I like its water-thrifty ways and pagoda-like structure of the flowers though, so for now it stays, but I’m dreading when it’s time to trim it back.

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10 Responses to This Plant Stinks

  1. Grace says:

    Interesting plant, Denise. Just be sure to have a bottle of Febreeze handy when you’re trimming. 🙂

    I don’t mind the Melianthus but the Nepeta yunannensis smells like, pardon my vulgarity here, fresh diarrhea. Awful. It didn’t bother me when I first bought the plant but because it tends to be a spreader, I’m always pulling tufts out and holding my nose. Another plant with the ICK factor is Choisya ternata. The flowers are fragrant but the leaves smell like a savory meat dish gone bad.

    I think this subject could elicit a lot of opinions!!

  2. chuck b. says:

    I haven’t smelled this one, but so far I really like all the plectranthus scents I have encountered. I have P. amonicus too and I love it. I think it smells like lime candy. Or something. I saw it in Hawaii spreading all over a raised lava rock bed. Unforch, I have nowhere to put it in my garden so it’s just sitting in the 4″ pot I bought it in. I also have that very common green and white variegated plectranthus whose name I can never remember; it’s fragrance reminds me of incense.

    A smell I really can’t tolerate is Salvia apiana. Too bad too, such a lovely plant.

    Lepechinia in my garden recently repelled a human visitor.

  3. Denise says:

    Chuck, I remember my Lepechinia hastata as a cat-pee smell. I forgot to include the sickly sweet smell of Corydalis heterocarpa, seeded into the back wall. Retch inducing.

    Grace, so surprised to hear choisya has that ICK factor. That always withers away like a daphne for me. Will stay clear of the N. yunan.!

  4. I can’t grow society garlic any longer because my ‘smellbuds’ have changed. It used to not bother me. I can’t think of anything else that stinks so much that I can’t grow it. Your blog is always so interesting. I think I’ll start smelling plants more often. 🙂
    BTW: I haven’t blogged about my cats yet, but as you mentioned to me once…it’s only a matter of time. My wife agrees.
    David (Tropical Texana/ Houston)

  5. hoover boo says:

    The little flowers are indeed charming! But worth the aroma?

    Lantana is particularly offensive to my nose, though lifelong allergies prevent my being able to smell much of anything, most of the time. The variegated society garlic seems to have much less odor than the green.

  6. Denise says:

    Hoov, I really like these succulent-leaved plectranthus. Time will tell whether I like them enough!

  7. Denise says:

    Maybe my smellbuds are changing too. Hadn’t thought of that, David.

  8. Ray says:

    I love just about everything about plectranthus neochilis, including the scent.

  9. Jen Coakley says:

    These plants love my soil and it’s hard to find plants that thrive. They are too pretty to take out, so what can i plant that smells nice to balance it out? I know night blooming jasmine are very fragrant, but I don’t like that smell. Any other suggestions?

  10. Denise says:

    Jen, I agree with you, that the good qualities balance out the stink. I don’t get the scent unless I’m cutting it back. That’s an interesting idea, balancing out scent in a garden. Planting this plectranthus under a golden ‘Charles Grimaldi’ brugmansia would not only be beautiful, but the brug’s strong perfume might negate any scent from the plectranthus.

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