Updated: Sep 13, 2021
Also known as Polygonum odoratum, Rau Ram, Vietnamese coriander, Vietnamese cilantro, Cambodian mint, and hot mint.
I had no clue what it was when I first got it. It was given to me by my sweet neighbor. The plant just appeared on our doorstep one day. She texted me it was mint. I looked at it. It was green...like most plants haha. Its leaves were long and had distinct dark markings that made me think of Star Trek's emblem. It looked nothing like the mint I am used to seeing. I admit I was skeptical and was not about to do a taste test.
I tried plant identification apps and asking other people I knew. Everyone including those apps told me it was not mint.
Grateful for the plant I kept it but I also got very busy and left it outside in the full sun with the occasional watering. It was starting to look rough. I moved it around the garden a few times until I found a place it seemed ok with. After winter passed it looked real rough. Like on its last breath rough. I'm sure my neighbor would be horrified.
Springtime was approaching and I was getting ready to decide what herbs to start as seedlings. I was reading "Herbs and Spices the Cook's Reference" by Jill Norman. I thought they spelled Cilantro wrong but, yes, there is such a thing as Culantro. On the page right after it was a bunch of leaves with familiar Star Terk emblems. Suddenly, I was the one who was horrified.
I ran. Literally ran outside to check on what was left of it. I'll let the picture do the talking.
............Yeeaaaah. Soooo....... I did a bit of reading that day on how to save it while I took better care of it outside and saw some slight recovery. Apparently, you can propagate it in water or cut the healthy portions transplant it to new soil. Sounded way too good to be true but both me and not-so Hot Minty were desperate at this point. We went both routes.
I carefully dissected it from its soil. Rinsed it. Put the "healthiest" part of it with roots in new soil buried pretty deep and some of it I cut up for propagation in water.
I kept it inside under a grow light and noticed it was growing and propagating but the leaves were super pale. I then realized...it is not a fan of bright light. So I transferred the potted one upstairs with less light and the propagated on stayed where it was until it had roots long enough to join its other parts in the pot. The roots took about a week to grow so not that long.
It was a bit of a learning curve. I was just getting into gardening and indoor houseplant keeping. I learned it likes a good amount of water and prefers shade with some direct sun in the morning as I transferred it outdoors for the summer. The original part was getting leggy and bare so I cut it and propagated it in the water before transferring back to the pot to make it look fuller. I chose to propagate it in water because I did lose a few pieces when I tried to put it directly into the soil. Once there are roots it has a better chance of growing.
This plant also likes a good amount of plant food. Once a month I would say. Very needy but I mean, I am not complaining. After all, it has been through. All that work paid off, it looks amazing now as of 8/25/21.
I plan to cut the longer pieces and transfer them to a bigger container as I would love to make some sort of paste or sauce with it.
Thank you, kind neighbor. I'm sorry I didn't take your word for it haha.
Note: I found water propagating is a very useful technique to save a lot of plants from a slow death.