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Do you want to grow a famous indoor plant 🌿 in the world that looks fabulous in a hanging basket? Then you have arrived at the right place. Today Plantly looks at caring for Swedish ivy that forms a marble mantel in your home or office space.
But there is a lot of confusement about the scientific name as some label it Plectranthus verticillatus while others call it Plectranthus australis. But a bit more on than later, so keep reading on!
Plant Name: Plectranthus verticillatus
Other Name: Swedish ivy and Swedish begonia
Plant Type: Evergreen perennial
Native Areas: Mozambique and Southern Africa
Light Requirement: Partial Sun
Fertilizer: Low-nitrogen fertilizer
Temperature: 70°F to 75°F
Growth: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide
Soil Type: Acidic soil
USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-11
More About Swedish Ivy Plectranthus
Regarding the Swedish ivy plants, things can become confusing 😕 for different reasons. Firstly the scientific name is confusing as it belongs to the Plectranthus genus with a botanical name Plectranthus verticillatus.
Then you also find it labeled as Plectranthus australis. But according to the Royal Horticultural Society, it is a misapplied synonym. Then you have the name Swedish ivy, Swedish begonia, and creeping Charlie, as the plant does not come from Sweden but from South Africa and Mozambique.
Still, why the name Swedish ivy plants? Well, a Swedish botanist Vivi Laurent-Tackholm ran a flower club during World War II. He offered rare exotic plants to the housewives of Sweden. The pothos and two types of the Plectranthus genus were in this collection.
One was a variegated Swedish ivy, and the other a green-leafed one. Due to its popularity, it was dubbed Swedish ivy. The evergreen plant belongs to the Lamiaceae family, the same as the mint plant, as it has a drooping habit ideal for growing in hanging baskets. It also relates to Vick’s plant.
It grows small broad ovate and glossy dark green leaves with scalloped edges and can release a pungent aroma when touched. The other plants with the same Swedish ivy names have purple leaves, or the green leaves have white markings.
The Swedish ivy plant is deeply veined with its long cascading stems and leaves. Swedish ivy produces delicate white or sometimes purple tubular-shaped flowers. The blooms appear in the fall when you move your houseplants outside.
While it is mostly grown as an indoor plant in the United States, the Missouri Botanical Garden advises it can grow outside year-round in the USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11.
Species and Cultivars to Select
Here is some Swedish ivy you can find readily available to grow.
The purple Swedish ivy grows soft fuzzy purple-tinged foliage and grows well in containers. The foliage is more sought after than the Swedish ivy bloom. The plant looks beautiful in a hanging basket as well.
The creeping Charlies belongs to another genus Glechoma hederacea also known as the ground ivy plant, to grow as groundcover and in a hanging basket. The plant can become invasive.
The emerald lace Swedish ivy is a pretty species with young leaves green, and when mature, it gets silvery veins with a dark red underside with thick stems.
How to Care for Swedish Ivy
While we do not like to say a plant is low-maintenance, the Swedish ivy is a great houseplant for beginners. But as with any plant, you need to know how it grows to help mimic the same conditions to allow your plant to thrive. 😄
Sun and Temperature To Mimic How Swedish Ivy Grows
Swedish ivy is a tropical understory plant it does its best in bright indirect light. Too much light will turn the leaves to a dull color, and they will droop. Hence, it needs morning sun protection from the afternoon sun in spring and summer.
The same applies to the variegated Swedish ivy plant regarding sunlight. Thus, the best way to thrive is to provide six hours of indirect sunlight throughout the day. It can thrive in average room temperatures between 65°F and 75°F year-round.
An ideal temperature 🌡️ during the growing season is 70°F to 75°F and can tolerate temperatures down to 60°F. The Swedish ivy is frost-tender and will not survive cooler temperatures.
It is also not a true ivy plant like most ivy plants you find.
Swedish Ivy Soil Needs
For growing Swedish ivy, it needs well-draining, damp potting soil. When grown in potting mix and containers, provide enough drainage holes for excess water 💦 to drain out. Neither does the Swedish ivies do well in overly moist or soggy soil, as it can lead to rotten roots.
We recommend adding perlite or vermiculite to your potting mix with peat moss to increase drainage. Or you can amend your peat-based soil annually with some organic matter. Furthermore, the Swedish ivy plant prefers a soil pH between 5.5 to 6.5, which is slightly acidic.
How Often to Water Swedish Ivy and Humidity
The Swedish ivy grows best in areas with regular water and humidity. You can water your plants once a week but allow the soil to dry between watering.
Following these watering tips helps prevent overwatering from leading to root rot. The recommended humidity level is 60% or higher.
You can place a pebble tray or humidifier near it to achieve this. Always water your plant at the base and avoid overhead watering.
Fertilizing the Swedish Ivy Plant
You need not fertilize your Swedish ivy, as it grows fine. You can add an addition of organic matter and compost annually. But if you want to encourage flowering, feed your plant a low-nitrogen feed in spring and summer.
When you want to encourage branching instead, you can use a higher nitrogen fertilizer, but you will have fewer blooms. Still, it does bloom from white flowers to purple tubular-shaped ones, which is not the plant’s main attraction.
So too much nitrogen fertilizer will develop more foliage than blooms.
Pruning Swedish Ivy Plants
You can trim your Swedish ivy plant whenever you notice dead, damaged, or dying leaves. To do a heavy prune, the best time to do this is after the flowers fade. You can pinch back the stem tips to help encourage new growth.
Remove the leggy growth by cutting it back to a leaf node, as it will grow bushier. By pruning your plant, it grows the healthiest stems, and you end up with stem tip cuttings to propagate. Hence, you end up with new plants.
Repotting Swedish Ivy Plants
To prevent your Swedish ivy from becoming root-bound, it helps to transplant them into larger containers or hanging baskets. Wait until the roots fill up the growing space before doing this. The best time to repot Swedish ivy is in spring and moving up one to two inches in pot size.
Propagation Guide Swedish Ivy
Propagate Swedish ivy is best done through stem tip cuttings. You can grow them from seed or buy a specimen from us here.
Via Stem Cuttings
Stem cuttings can take any time, but the best time is spring and summer during the active growing season.
Prepare a clear plastic cup and make holes at the bottom or use a nursery pot with enough drainage holes.
Fill the pot with a potting mix, or use clean water instead.
Choose the healthiest stem tips with smaller leaves showing recent growth and cut it six inches long. Cut the stem tip at an angle of 45 degrees above a leaf node.
Remove the bottom leaves and leave the rest in place.
Dip the cut end in a rooting hormone to help the cutting to root easier.
Place the cut end in the rooting medium or the clean water about two inches.
Place the container in a spot to receive bright light but not direct sunlight, as too much direct light will burn the leaves.
To propagate Swedish ivy in water, remember to freshen it up every two days.
Once your Swedish ivy has new growth on the new plants and reaches a couple of inches high, you want to transplant them into a permanent spot. You can choose a container with enough drainage holes and fill it with a potting mix.
Swedish Ivy Diseases and Pests
The Swedish ivy plant is not bothered by many pests as the white flowers have a unique aroma. But it can become susceptible to spider mites and mealybugs.
To prevent these bugs, it helps to provide air circulation around the plant and use an insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Root rot is a concern when you overwater your Swedish ivy; it helps to have good drainage even if your plant prefers damp potting soil. It cannot tolerate wet soil.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is an exceptional houseplant for beginners as it can survive in different lighting conditions and soils. But it prefers enough bright light compared to shade or direct sunlight.
Your plant needs to receive enough light of four to six hours of bright light with protection from the afternoon sun daily.
Thriving Swedish ivies prefer bright indirect light and average room temperatures with humidity during the growing season. With enough bright light, it will not develop pale leaves or stretch out with tall stalks to reach the light.
The Swedish ivy Plectranthus is an evergreen perennial and should not be confused with the tubular mauve or Plectranthus australis native to Australia.
Yes, regular pruning will help encourage growth and blooming.
No, the Swedish ivy is not toxic to humans or pets.
You can cut back the thick stems to a leaf node to help encourage branching, resulting in bushier growth.
Swedish ivy is categorized as an air-purifying plant and is safe in the home compared to English ivy, which is toxic.