The Encyclopedia of House Plants

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Family: Lamiaceae.

Plectranthus australis Common name(s): Swedish Ivy Plectranthus oertendahlii
Plectranthus Genus of about 350 species of annuals, evergreen perennials, semi-succulents, and shrubs from Africa, Asia, Madagascar, Australia, and Pacific islands.

These evergreen, trailing or bushy perennials are grown for their attractive foliage. Although frost tender, they are easy to grow if temperatures stay above 50 F. Keep moist in partial shade or bright light. Cut back tips in growing season if plant becomes too straggly.

Growing conditions Watering and misting Propagation
Average warmth in summer - minimum 50 F in winter.Brightly lit spot. Keep well away from direct sunlight. Grow in soil-based potting mix. Keep compost moist at all times but never waterlogged. Reduce watering in winter. Misting is necessary. Take stem cuttings in spring. Sow seed at 66-75 F (19-24 C) when ripe.

User-submitted additions and corrections:

USA Tucson
28th Feb 2009
I bought one of these that was paired with a 'wandering jew' at walmart. two years later i have two huge plants propogated from the one. The swedish ivy overtook the wandering jew, but i have clippings from it that have made new wandering jew plants. The original looks pretty ugly now, it was beautiful over the summer but it started turning brown. I looked at the dirt and there were salts all over it, overfertilized. So i repotted it and hoping it comes out of it. it has new growth and i've cut back the brown stuff. It is HUGE!
1st May 2010
On the rare occasions when I purchase a plant from a chain store (walmart, lowes, etc.) I put the plant in the sink and pour water thru it several times to get all of the excess fertilizer out. Then I let it drain out completely in the sink. Their goal is to make that plant look as appealing as possible in the store and sometimes that requires waaaay more fertilizer that the plant really needs. You will have a healthier plant in the long run if you do this. That way you can provide feeding as needed and the plant wont suffer too many long-term effects.
27th May 2010
Any time you over fertilize a plant, you need to leech out the soil. To leech out the soil, all you do is.... 1) Let running water wash over the soil for about 30 minutes. Or 2) soak the plant in the bath tub for about 30 minutes. Both methods replace a watering and should be done when you would normally water. This removes the salts in the soil.
17th Oct 2010
i have had the same problem for years and have concluded that this plant favors intense, not direct, light to attain the deep green color and warmer temps and humidity than a normal house would provide. So I am content to put it in a deep tray of pebbles with 1" water in the sunniest East or West window and pray it survives the winter months, let alone flourish. So far it works. The leaves won't be as green or sturdy as when grown outside, but it's still attractive. Does anyone else notice a pleasant odor about this plant. Very earthy. Most people don't and tell me I'm imagining it. Dorothy
14th Oct 2011
I do notice a very pleasant smell from this plant. most people think the same of me when i ask. This plant loves to be pruned and it will let you know when it needs water. Love this plant!
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