How to grow and care for Swedish Ivy Indoors

Houseplant, Swedish Ivy

Botanical name: Plectranthus spp
Family: Lamiaceae

The Swedish Ivy also called Candle Plant are creeping plants important for clothing the edges of pots and hanging baskets. They are easy to grow even for a beginner. It is not a true ivy and will flourish in dry air where true ivies would fail. It will withstand occasional dryness at the roots and also produce occasional flowers under room conditions. Despite the name 'Ivy', the leaves resemble a small and plain Coleus rather than a colorful Ivy. The Plectranthus genus has about 350 species comprising of warm-climate plants occurring largerly in the Southern Hemisphere, in Sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, India and the Indonesian archipelago down to Australia and some Pacific Islands. They are closely related to Coleus and are also known as spurflowers. Their common name indicates their popularity in Scandinavia where they are grown in hanging baskets or on window-sills. Their foliage is more colorful and their trailing stems are covered by foliage and they grow very fast. Leaves are more rounded and deeply veined. The variegated types are more popular like Plectranthus oertendahlii is especially colorful with leaves measuring 1 in. across, prominnent white veins, underside and leaf edge rosy-purple. Plectranthus coleoides marginatus bears the largest leaves which measure 2-2.5 in. wide, have a broad white edge and a hairy surface. Plectranthus australis bears all-green leaves which are thicker and glossier than for other species.

How to Grow Swedish Ivy

Light

Swedish Ivy prefers bright, indirect light. Keep them away from direct sunlight to avoid leaf sun scorch. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Swedish Ivy liberally during the growing season and allow the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root rot disease which can result in the eventual death of the plant. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth with a minimum of 120C is ideal for Swedish Ivy. Protect the plant from draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for Swedish Ivy. Regular misting in necessary especially when the air is dry to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves with plenty of water to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestation.

Feeding

Feed Swedish Ivy with a nitrogen-rich water-soluble fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Swedish Ivy during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound. Use free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole(s) to prevent waterlogging which can lead to root-rot.

Pruning

Pruning Swedish Ivy is easy. To control the height of the plant and encourage a bushy, compact plant, pinch the growing tips. Remove dead flower stalks immediately. Cut back the overgrown or leggy plant to rejuvenate growth. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Swedish Ivy

Swedish Ivy can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem-tip cuttings.

Propagating Swedish Ivy from stem-tip cuttings
Take a 4-6 in. stem-tip cutting from a healthy Swedish Ivy. Strip off the lower leaves and insert the cutting in moist rooting soil. Place in a warm shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the plant to be well established before transplanting.

Common Problems in Growing Swedish Ivy

  • The plant wilts despite regular watering
  • This is an indication of root-rot disease in Swedish Ivy. Isolate the plant, take stem cuttings and propagate a new plant. Discard the diseased plant as it wont recover.

  • Yellow leaves
  • Overwatering a Swedish Ivy will result in yellow leaves. Water liberally during the growing season but allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold season.

  • Soft and dull leaves
  • Soft and dull leaves in Swedish Ivy are due to underwatering. Water the plant immediately and never allow the soil to dry out completely.

  • Straggly growth
  • The cause of straggly growth in Swedish Ivy is too little light. Move the plant to a brighter spot but away from direct sunlight. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

  • Diseases
  • Common disease in Swedish Ivy is Leaf Spot.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Swedish Ivy are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects, Aphids, Whiteflies and Spider Mites. Isolate the plant to prevent further spread to other plants.

Toxicity

Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus spp) is non-toxic to both humans and pets.

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