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How to Grow Plectranthus — Swedish Ivy

Swedish ivy
Plectranthus coleoides 'Marginatus'

Plectranthus–commonly called Swedish ivy–is a shrublike or trailing tropical plant with fleshy, square stems and green leaves that may be heart-shaped, oval, or rounded often with a velvety texture

The leaves of Plectranthus have scalloped edges, veining, and a bronzy or purple cast. Small, tubular flowers are borne in terminal spikes throughout the year.

In mild-winter regions, Plectranthus can be grown outdoors in a border. In temperate regions, it can be set outdoors in summer, and grown indoors in winter. It is a good choice for hanging baskets.

Plectranthus is a genus of about 350 species of annuals, perennials, and semi-succulents. Plectranthus is native to Africa, Madagascar, Asia, Australasia, and the Pacific Islands.

Get to Know Plectranthus

  • Plant type: Tropical perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 11-12
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Optimal growing temperature: day 60° to 70°F (16°-21°C), night 55° to 60°F (13°-16°C)
  • Light: Medium to high light
  • Height and width: Trailing stems to 8 inches long or longer
  • Foliage: Scalloped, round or oval, green, fleshy leaves on trailing stems
  • Flowers: Occasionally, small, light purple flowers
  • Uses: Tropical garden, houseplant, hanging basket
  • Common name: Swedish Ivy
  • Botanical name: Plectranthus australis
  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Origin: Africa, Madagascar, Asia

Where to Plant Plectranthus

  • Light oudoors: Grow Plectranthus in dappled shade.
  • Light indoors: Grow Plectranthus in medium to high light.
  • Soil outdoors: Grow Plectranthus in moderately fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Soil indoors: Plant Plectranthus in all-purpose mix.
Plectranthus purpuratus or Swedish ivy
Plectranthus purpuratus or Swedish ivy

How to Water and Feed Plectranthus

  • Keep the soil evenly moist for Plectranthus.
  • Fertilize Plectranthus twice a month from spring to fall.

Plectranthus Care

  • Pinch off the stems of new growth often to keep the plant full and compact.
  • Repot Plectranthus yearly.

Growing Plectranthus as a Houseplant

  • Plectranthus grows best in bright light, an average temperature, and medium humidity.
  • It can be grown in a warm place with increased humidity.
  • The soil should be allowed to dry moderately between thorough waterings.
  • Fertilizer should be applied regularly in spring and summer.

Plectranthus Common Problems

  • Wash the cottony mealybugs off Plectranthus with a strong spray of water or spray with insecticidal soap.
  • Strong sun can cause tan patches on Plectranthus leaves; move the plant out of direct sunlight.

Plectranthus Propagation

  • Root new plants from young stem cuttings.
  • Take Plectranthus tip cuttings and root them in all-purpose potting mix to root.

Plectranthus Varieties to Grow

  • Plectranthus australis. Grows to 2 feet long; shiny, dark green rounded leaves; small flowers are light blue.
  • P. coleoides. Trailing to 3 feet long; furry, heat-shaped gray-green leaves on purple stems; cultivar ‘Marginatus’ has leaves with white edges.
  • P. oertendahlii, candle plant, has dark green, silver-veined leaves are red underneath.


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