Plectranthus are like coleus and salvia, members of the mint family, with rapid growth, aromatic foliage and a variety of shapes and sizes. Like coleus, these plants will do well in the irrigated landscape, container
gardens and indoor situations as long as light levels are high.

Three species are known as Swedish Ivy. This common name indicates their popularity in scandinavia, where they are found in hanging baskets or on windowsills. Despite the name the leaves resemble a small and plain Coleus rather than a colorful Ivy. The trailing stems are covered by the fragrant foliage and they are fast-growing.

It is a pity that Swedish Ivy is not more popular in other countries as it has many good points. It will survive in dry air, it will withstand occasional dryness at the roots and it will sometimes flower. Pinch out the stem tips occasionally to keep the plant bushy, and use these tips as cuttings which will root very easily.


Plectranthus oertendahlii ‘Lime Light’

Types of Plectranthus

The advantages of these creeping plants as ground cover and for clothing the edges of pots and hanging baskets are well known in Scandinavia. They flourish in dry air where true Ivies would fail, and there is the added bonus of occasional flowers. Plectranthus is available with green-and-white, green-and-gold, and silver foliage; there’s something to compliment any container planting.

The foliage of the most popular P. oertendahlii is especially colorful. Its leaves measure 1 in. across – the largest are borne by P. coleoides marginatus (2-2½ in.). You will have to search to find P. australis. The leaves are thicker and glossier than the other species, but they are also plainer as the color is all-green.

SEE ALSO:   Viburnum x Bodnantense "Dawn"

Secrets of success

Temperature: Average warmth – minimum 50°F in winter.

Light: Bright light or semi-shade, avoid direct sunlight.

Water: Keep compost moist at all times – reduce watering in winter.

Air humidity: Mist leaves occasionally.

Repotting: Repot in spring every 2-3 years, but best grown as an annual.

Propagation: Very easy. Take stem cuttings in spring or summer.

Plectranthus coleodes marginatus1

Plectranthus coleodes marginatus


Plectranthus purpuratus

Plectranthus-oertendahlii Plectranthus-australis

P. oertendahlii (left), P. australis (right)


Plectranthus oertendahlii lime light

Plectranthus oertendahlii ‘Lime Light’


P. fruticosus


P. oertendahlii

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