How to Grow and Care for Plectranthus

How to Grow and Care for Plectranthus

Plectranthus is a genus of about 350 species of annuals, evergreen perennials, semi-succulents, and shrubs from Africa, Madagascar, Asia, Australasia, and Pacific Islands. They are useful in a cool greenhouse or outdoors in hanging baskets, containers, or sunny borders. The foliage is often ornamental, with decorative margins and a fuzzy appearance. Flowers are small but are usually borne in good-size racemes of tubular, 2-lipped flowers in shades of purple, pink, white, or blue.

Growing Conditions and General Care

Plectranthus are easily cultivated and require little extra attention or special treatment. They enjoy well-composted soil and thrive in semi-shade. These plants are ideally suited to grow under the shade of trees. They are generally shallow rooted and enjoy adequate water, but they store water in their stems and are resistant to prolonged periods of drought. Plectranthus are often grown for their attractive foliage, flowers, or both and vary in their growth forms from dense prostrate ground covers to sub-shrubs and large shrubs.

Although they are frost tender, they are usually grown in shady, protected places and, as such, are afforded some protection from frost. Because they all flower at the end of the growing season, frost does not affect flowering. If the plants are affected by frost, they can be cut back at the end of winter and will grow out rapidly. Once the plants have been established for a year or more, they become woodier at the base and are more resistant to frost damage.

Most of the shrubby species make better, denser, and attractive shrubs if they are pruned back to between 1/3 and 1/4 of their height at the end of winter before the new growth begins for summer. After pruning, it is ideal for dressing the soil with a thick layer of compost or organic mulch and an application of balanced fertilizer such as 2:3:2. Ground cover species rarely need to be pruned, other than occasional cleaning up of old-growth and flower spikes.

The ground cover species often have beautiful foliage and form dense, attractive carpets, from 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm) thick, which burst into flower in fall. These plants root readily at the nodes wherever they touch the ground and will form dense mats in a relatively short time.

Shrubby species vary in height from 20 inches to 6.67 feet (0.5 to 2 m) and can be planted en-masse or as single individuals. Once again, most species enjoy the shade, but few can endure the full sun.


Plectranthus are exceptionally easy to propagate and can be grown very easily with little special treatment. Most propagation is done from cuttings during the early part of summer and spring. Although the cuttings will root at any time of the year, they have a long summer ahead to establish if they are propagated at this time. Cuttings may take the form of soft-wood, semi-hardwood, but tip cuttings are usually the best.

The cuttings should have at least two nodes, and the leaves should be removed from the lower portion. Rooting hormone is usually not necessary and has been known to cause the cuttings to rot. The cuttings should be inserted one-third of their length into clean double washed river sand and kept in a warm shady place and not be allowed to dry out.

Source: pza.sanbi.org


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Coleus Plants Features: An Overview

  • Coleus genus provides us with gorgeous species that come in distinct colors, patterns, and leaf textures. The most common cultivars include the Wizard series, Kong series, Fairway series, Premium Sun series, and Black Dragon.
  • Depending on the species, Coleus plants can grow between 6 to 36 inches (15-91 cm) in height and 1 to 3 feet (30-91 cm) in width.
  • Some species of Coleus plants are succulents, while others have fleshy or tuberous rootstock.
  • When it comes to their foliage, Coleus plants exhibit an incredible palette of natural color variation including dark green, yellow, orange, purple, and red.
  • Enthusiastic breeders have developed specimens with numerous combinations of green, pink, bright chartreuse, black-ish velvet, and many others.
  • There are species with solid-colored leaves, but other ones may appear with highly contrasted veining, splotches, or stripes.
  • Their leaves are about 1 to 6 inches (2.5-15 cm) long and grow on square-shaped and semi-succulent stems. Some cultivars can also come in many different sizes and shapes.
  • They are seasonal bloomers that produce small white or bluish blooms at any time of the year. Their flowers are said to draw energy from the colorful leaves.




Good for Containers

How to grow Plectranthus


More varieties for Plectranthus

Blue Yonder plectranthus

Plectranthus parviflorus ‘Limplep1’ is more commonly known as Blue Yonder or Blue Spire plectranthus. It was selected from a species native to Australia. Blue Yonder has green foliage edged in white, and in summer it sends up spires of sky blue blooms. The plant grows 14 inches tall (24 inches in bloom) and spreads 24 inches wide.

‘Cerveza ‘n Lime’ plectranthus

Plectranthus coleoides ‘Cerveza ‘n Lime’ resembles Cuban oregano with its fuzzy, scalloped green leaves. But the leaves on ‘Cerveza ‘n Lime’ are a bit larger and not quite as succulent. It makes a great heat- and drought-tolerant addition to container gardens, or it can be grown as an indoor plant. It grows 18 inches tall and wide.

Cuban oregano

Plectranthus amboinicus has thick, succulent, hairy gray-green leaves. The plant has short internodes, forming a compact mound of fragrant foliage. It makes an easy-care houseplant or a low-maintenance herb. Leaves of Cuban oregano can be substituted for oregano or sage in poultry and meat dishes. It grows 12-18 inches tall and wide.

‘Drege’ plectranthus

Plectranthus ciliatus ‘Drege’ is sometimes called spur flower for its small pink flowers, which are borne in spring and summer. It is a tropical subshrub from Africa that makes a good drought-tolerant groundcover where temperatures remain above freezing. Its leaves are green on the upper surface and purplish underneath with stiff white hairs.

‘Emerald Lace’ plectranthus

Plectranthus oertendahlii ‘Emerald Lace’ is named for the lacy gray-green pattern of markings on its scalloped, rounded foliage. It is a compact selection of silver plectranthus, growing just 6-8 inches tall and 8-12 inches wide. In fall and spring, it sends up spikes of white or pale lavender blooms. Grow it as a houseplant or in annual flower combinations outdoors.

‘Fuzzy Wuzzy’ plectranthus

Plectranthus neochilus ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy’ forms a ground-hugging mat of gray-green foliage with white leaf margins. It grows less than a foot tall and spreads up to 2 feet wide. It is also called lobster flower for the clawlike shape of its blue-purple bloom spikes that rise 3-6 inches above the foliage.

‘Green on Green’ plectranthus

Plectranthus forsteri ‘Green on Green’ has oversize medium-green leaves with lime-green or yellow-green edges. It grows up to 24 inches tall and wide, and it rarely blooms.

Mona Lavender plectranthus

(Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’) shows off rich purple leaves topped by spikes of lavender-purple flowers. It grows 28 inches tall and wide. It makes a lovely houseplant.

‘Nico’ plectranthus

Plectranthus coleoides ‘Nico’ is a vigorous variety that has dark green leaves with purple veins and purplish leaf undersides. It has a semiprostrate growth pattern that makes it useful as a trailing plant in container gardens or as a groundcover in landscape beds. It grows 8-12 inches tall and spreads 12-36 inches wide.

‘Nicoletta’ plectranthus

Plectranthus coleoides ‘Nicoletta’ has large, fuzzy, silvery-gray leaves and purplish stems. This semitrailing plant grows 8-10 inches tall and spreads up to 36 inches wide.

‘Ochre Flame’ Cuban oregano

Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Ochre Flame’ is a highly ornamental form of Cuban oregano. Each avocado-green leaf is splashed with an irregular central patch of pale lime. The leaves are both scalloped and wavy at their margins. In winter the plant bears lavender-pink blooms. It grows 12 inches tall and wide.

Plectranthus argentatus

(Plectranthus argentatus) displays hairy, silvery leaves and is easy to grow indoors or out. It grows 3 feet tall and wide.

Silver plectranthus

Plectranthus oertendahlii is a spreading plant that grows just 8 inches tall but can spread up to 3 feet wide. This growth habit makes it an excellent choice for hanging baskets or as a groundcover. It is also sometimes called prostrate coleus, silver Swedish ivy, or candle plant.

‘Silver Shield’ plectranthus

Plectranthus argentatus ‘Silver Shield’ is an Australian native that produces large shield-shape silvery leaves on plants that grow 24-30 inches tall and wide. It bears pale blue to white flowers in summer, but because they are not particularly showy, pinch the flowers back or deadhead them to show off the foliage, which is the main attraction of this plant.

Swedish ivy

Plectranthus verticillatus is a common houseplant. It is native to South Africa and Australia, not Sweden where it was first popularized. This mint relative has a trailing habit, making it an excellent choice for hanging baskets. The glossy green leaves with scalloped edges are borne on stems that reach 12-18 inches tall and trail up to 3 feet long. It used to be classified as Plectranthus australis.

Troy’s Gold plectranthus

(Plectranthus ciliatus ‘Troy’s Gold’) offers golden foliage variegated with purple and green. It grows 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide. It can be grown as a houseplant in a sunny window.

Variegated plectranthus

(Plectranthus forsteri ‘Marginatus’) offers large hairy leaves edged in white. It grows 18 inches tall and 36 inches wide. It can be grown as a houseplant.

Variegated Swedish ivy

Plectranthus coleoides ‘Variegata’ is a different species from common Swedish ivy, but its growth characteristics and uses are similar. This trailing plant has scalloped leaves with white margins. The plant cascades nicely from container gardens or hanging baskets. It grows 6-12 inches tall and trails 24-26 inches.

Vick’s plant

Plectranthus tomentosa is also called mentholatum plant because of the aroma it gives off when brushed. It has fuzzy gray-green leaves and bears lavender-purple flowers. It can grow up to 30 inches tall and 24 inches wide, sometimes becoming rather woody at the base of its stems.

Plant Plectranthus with


Petunias are failproof favorites for gardeners everywhere. They are vigorous growers and prolific bloomers from midspring through late fall. Color choices are nearly limitless, with some sporting beautiful veining and intriguing colors. Many varieties are sweetly fragrant (sniff blooms in the garden center to be sure.) Some also tout themselves as “weatherproof,” which means that the flowers don’t close up when water is splashed on them.Wave petunias have made this plant even more popular. Reaching up to 4 feet long, it’s great as a groundcover or when cascading from window boxes and pots. All petunias do best and grow more bushy and full if you pinch or cut them back by one- to two-thirds in midsummer.Shown above: Merlin Blue Morn petunia

Coleus, shade-loving with blended leaf

Shade-loving coleus with blended leaf color provides vivid color and wild markings even in the darkest corners of your yard. The mottled colors often change in intensity depending on the amount of sunlight and heat. These varieties are easy to grow — just plant them in a shady but warm spot give them enough water to keep the soil moist, but not wet and add a little fertilizer.When frost threatens, pot them up and enjoy them as houseplants in a sunny window until spring. Then plant them outdoors once again!

Grow annuals in the perfect container garden

Tips for Container Gardening

How to Pick Healthy Plants

Choosing the Right Pot for Your Container Garden

The Best Flowers for Hanging Baskets

About Swedish Ivy

  • The Swedish ivy plant is commonly referred to as Creeping Charlie.
  • Some Plectranthus australis plants will generate white flowers in late spring.
  • Most Swedish ivy plants have scalloped-edged leaves.
  • It is typical for a Creeping Charlie plant to reach lengths of three to four feet.
  • Too much nitrogen can stop the Plectranthus australis from producing flowers.
  • Swedish ivy plants should be fertilized with a 20-20-20 balanced houseplant fertilizer.
  • Creeping Charlie plants need only minimal water in the dormant winter seasons.
  • For new gardeners, the Plectranthus australis easy a great way to learn to garden.
  • Swedish ivy plants love humidity and will thrive in warm climates.
  • Many proper owners love the hanging vines of the Creeping Charlie plant.

Plectranthus Plant Profile

Plectranthus is a large genus of plants native to areas in the Southern Hemisphere containing approximately 350 species. Plants in the Plectranthus genus are closely related to mint as they are part of the same family—the Lamiaceae family. The Plectranthus genus is characterized by both annual and perennial plants, many of which are used for food, ornamental, and medical purposes. Many Plectranthus species share common characteristics including aromatic and colorful foliage, and leaves that tend to be wavy, toothed or scalloped on the edges. The Plectranthus genus is characterized by both shrubs and ground cover plants.

Plants in the Plectranthus genus can commonly be found growing outdoors as ornamental plants in containers or gardens, as well as indoors as houseplants depending on the species. Plectranthus species are usually low-maintenance, and fast-growing, which makes them attractive options for even the most inexperienced gardener. Some of the most well-known Plectranthus species include the Plectranthus scutellarioides, commonly known as coleus, and the Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender,’ which has become a popular houseplant.

Botanical Name Plectranthus
Plant Type Annual, perennial
Mature Size 150mm - 2m tall
Sun Exposure Full sun or partial shade
Soil Type Well-draining
Soil pH 6.0
Bloom Time Spring, winter, fall
Flower Color Purple, pink, white, and blue
Hardiness Zones 8 to 11
Native Area Africa, Madagascar, India
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