How to Grow Papalo? A Mexican Herb

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An exotic herb, this unique Mexican culinary plant has a flavor to match! Here is all you need to know about How to Grow Papalo!

How to Grow Papalo

Papalo is a green leafy plant with pungent, egg-shaped leaves. It is a seasonal herb, native to Mexico, Central, and South America. The sharp flavor of Papalo, which is a mix of arugula, cilantro, and rue, complements many dishes. It’s used in many Mexican recipes. If you too want to enjoy it fresh, then here are all the details on How to Grow Papalo.

Botanical Name: Porophyllum ruderale

Common Names: Papaloquelite, Bolivian coriander, Yerba porosa, mampuito, cravo-de-uruba, chipaca, hierba de venado, mampuito, oreja de monte, purranga, ruda cimarrona (wild rue), summer cilantro, Bolivian coriander, quuilquina, quirquiña, yerba porosa, killi, ruda de gallina, gallenaza

Size: 2-4 feet

Check out our article on growing a French Garden here

How To Grow Papalo?

You can easily propagate Papalo by seeds and it’s the best way to grow this herb because you won’t find transplants in nurseries easily as it’s not a popular plant. Spring and summer are the ideal seasons to begin propagation, but you can do this anytime in a frost-free climate.

If you live in an area that is usually cold, then pick the warmest season to start. While growing indoors, transplant it in the desired place when its 5-6 inches tall. 

  • Sprinkle some seeds in the soil and cover them.
  • Keep the soil moist by watering regularly.
  • Make sure that the seeds are getting enough bright light.
  • They will germinate in 10-18 days.

Note: Papalo thrives in sunlight and needs only intermittent watering to survive. It requires well-draining soil that doesn’t hold moisture.

Papalo Herb Care

Caring and maintaining Papalo is quite an easy job, as long as you know the right steps and ways to do it.


This Mexican plant thrives in sunlight and heat. The more, the merrier it’ll be for its growth. Plant it in full sun and watch it flourish!


Do not keep the soil overly moist as it can tolerate drought. Wait between the watering intervals till the soil goes somewhat dry. A deep, infrequent watering procedure is the best.


It’s not a picky herb and can be grown in poor soil too. However, the growing medium needs to be well-draining for optimum growth.


You don’t need to fertilize papalo, as it can grow in poor soil. As long as it is getting warmth, full sun, and planted in well-draining soil. You can apply aged manure or compost occasionally if you notice a lack of growth.


Harvesting the plant is going to prune it in the process. Snip off the leaves from the top, as it will promote bushiness.

Temperature & Climate

Papalo is a sub-tropical annual that grows well in hot climates. If you live in a warm region, you will have no problems growing the plant all year round. For colder regions, however, you will have to take extra care. Don’t move the plant to the garden until the dangers of frost have passed away. Temperature below 48-50 F (8-10 C) can hamper the growth of the plant.

Pests and Diseases

Being a herb and a natural pest repellent, you don’t have to worry about pests when growing Papalo. The plant is also safe from the diseases and there are no known disease susceptibility.

Growing Papalo in a Pot

You can grow papalo in 10-12 inches pot easily. As its roots can go deep, choose a pot with good depth. Just take care of the basic requirements given above and it’ll do great in pots.

Harvesting and Storage

How to Grow Papalo 2

Harvesting Papalo is a simple procedure, as its a cut and come again herb. Snip off fresh leaves as needed. Pick older leaves if you want a strong flavor and tender leaves for a mild taste. As the leaves taste best when fresh, avoid storing them.

Culinary Uses of Papalo

The leaves are used to garnish and to prepare the salsa. They also pair great with Ensalada de Maíz con Calabaza. It is also popularly used in cemitas and Guacamole Tacos. Moreover, Papalo is added to grilled meats, stews, soups, and salads.

Health Benefits of Papalo

The leaves of Papalo are also used to treat various ailments. The essential oil and active chemicals of the plant have medicinal properties.

  • Used to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Aids in the digestion.
  • Reduces inflammation caused by infections.
  • Papalo is also used to heal liver disorders.

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