Swedish ivy (Plectranthus.australis) is a simple houseplant that grows well indoors and requires little effort on your part to thrive. The ivy produces thick stems that grow erect before cascading, making the plant an ideal option for hanging baskets. In a garden, the plant can also grow as a carpet beneath canopy-forming trees. It is also commonly called the Creeping Charlie.
Foliage and Flowers
Swedish ivy’s foliage is quite beautiful. It has rounded leaves with scalloped edges growing from its stems, and many varieties of the plant have variegated leaves. P. australis blooms in the late spring or early summer and produces white or pale lavender flowers. It generally grows to about a few feet as its foliage drops. It lives for three to five years.
Where to Grow
This is an easy houseplant, perfect for a hanging basket, with not much maintenance required. The ivy is ideal for indoor growing as average room temperatures and humidity will be great, although it can also be moved outside in the summer. Many gardeners also grow these on decks or balconies. Swedish ivy tolerates pruning very well, and its individual branches can be pruned at any time without significant damage to the plant itself. Prune it regularly to help it develop new branches, keep it in moderate humidity, fertilize it, and the Swedish ivy will prove a great houseplant for new gardeners.
Follow these guidelines for healthy Swedish ivy:
- Light: Moderate, indirect light throughout the year is recommended. If its leaves have begun to droop, it could be getting too much light.
- Water: The soil should always be at least slightly moist, especially during the growing season from the beginning of spring until fall. Make sure to avoid overwatering in winter.
- Temperature: Average room temperature is good for Swedish ivy—about 60 to 75 F. Avoid freezing temperature as frost will kill it.
- Soil: A peat moss based potting mix is best, but any good potting soil should be fine.
- Fertilizer: Fertilize during the growing season every few weeks with a balanced houseplant fertilizer like 20-20-20. It shouldn’t be fertilized during winter. If its leaves become dull and droopy, its fertilizer intake can be slightly increased. Too much nitrogen fertilizer can prevent the plant from blooming. If your ivy fails to bloom, consider switching to a low-nitrogen fertilizer for the next growing season.
Propagate Swedish ivy by stem tip cuttings, which can be taken in the summer after the bloom. Once its flowers have faded, pinch back its stem tips and then root them in damp potting soil. The ivy can also propagate through division, though cultivation through cuttings is recommended.
Swedish ivy grows best in a hanging basket, but it also will grow in pots. Repot it in fresh, peat-based soil annually, or more often if its soil has become exhausted or the plant has begun to wilt.
Though P. australis is generally solid green, the popular Variegata cultivar has white markings around its leaf edges. Several other species of Plectranthus are also commonly cultivated. P. argentatus, or silver spurflower, has bright and silvery foliage, while P. amboinicus is grown for its oregano-like flavor and smell.
Though the Swedish ivy doesn’t generally suffer from major pest or disease problems, it is susceptible to the mealybug, which forms white material on its stems and leaves. If your plant is infested, remove the mealybugs with cotton swabs by hand and treat the plant with insecticide. Spider mites can also be a problem. Watch out for pale leaves and webby mass on the underside of the leaves.