How to Grow Plectranthus - Planting & Caring

By Sharon & Team   /   Shrubs Category   /   2023

Plectranthus, also known as Swedish ivy or false Swedish ivy, is a fast-growing, easy-to-care-for plant. The leaves are large and glossy, and the plant can reach up to 10 feet in length. Plectranthus is a great plant for hanging baskets or as a ground cover.

How to Grow Plectranthus - Planting & Caring

Growing Easiness

Is it easy to grow Plectranthus plant? Since they are succulents, they don't require too much water and can live in dry climates. They are also easy to propagate from stem cuttings. Plectranthus can be grown in pots or in the ground, and make great houseplants or accent plants in gardens.

Plant Size

How big can it be? Sometimes, the plant can grow a little more than 2 feet in both height and width. However, on average, the plant size is around 60 to 80 cm in height and width. The size can depend on the type of Plectranthus too. Some species of this plant can get quite large while others stay small.

Growth Rate

How fast is the growth? Eventually, the stem becomes woody at the base with age. Plectranthus is a fast-growing, herbaceous perennial that is often grown as an annual. It typically grows to 2-3’ (less frequently to 4’) tall on erect to slightly spreading stems that are often purplish-tinged and feature opposite, ovate tolanceolate, medium to dark green leaves with scalloped margins.

Plectranthus Basic Knowledge

Plant Form Shrub
Family Labiateae
Origin New Caledonia, Fiji, Australia, Africa, Polynesia.

Lifespan, Perennial or Annuals

How long is the lifespan? known as the "false"Castor oil plant, Plectranthus is a showy, easy-to-grow perennial that hails from tropical Africa. It's a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other aromatic herbs such as lavender, rosemary, and thyme. Plectranthus can reach 2 to 3 feet in height and just as wide, with lance-shaped, toothed leaves and spikes of two-lipped, tubular flowers in shades of blue, purple, or white.

Ideal Temperature

What is the ideal temperature? The temperature in the summer should be room temperature. It is useful that at night the temperature is a little lower. This will contribute to the formation of a more compact crown of the plant. In winter, the temperature is not lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too high and there is insufficient lighting in the winter, the shoots are stretched out.


What about the humidity? Since the plant is from tropical Africa, it grows well in high humidity. However, it can tolerate dry air in apartments. To prevent the leaves from drying out and losing color, the plant can be periodically sprayed with water from a spray bottle.

Light Requirement

What amount of light this plant needed? The plant needs bright diffused light, especially for variegated varieties. However, direct light in the summer can adversely affect the growth and development of the plant. In winter, it is advisable to place the plant on a south-west facing window, and to move it away from the window by 1 meter.

Soil Composition

What is good soil for Plectranthus? While it's not too needy, it doesn't do well in heavy clay. The best mixture is 1 part leaf, 1 part coarse sand or perlite, and 1 part peat. Good drainage is a must, and it's best to use a pot with an opening.

Watering Time

How much I must water Plectranthus? The plant should be watered moderately all year long. In summer, water more frequently so that the soil dries a little before the next watering. The leaves may slightly wilt. In winter, water only occasionally and gradually; too much water can lead to fungal diseases. However, the soil should not be allowed to completely dry out, as this can cause the leaves to fall off. Use soft water if possible.

Fertilizing and Nutritient

About fertilizer. Common ly known as coleus, Plectranthus is a tropical plant that's easy to grow indoors. Fertilize plectranthus 1-2 times a month during the growing season using a liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Plectranthus also responds well to organic top dressings.


How to reproduce Plectranthus? Unless the plant is flowering, take a 6-8 inches cutting from the stem tip. It is best to take the cutting in the morning when the plant has the most water. Cut just below a node (where the leaf meets the stem). Cuttings can be taken from young or old wood. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting and dip the end of the stem in rooting hormone. Place the cutting in a pot with well-drained soil. Water the soil, not the cutting. Place the pot in a shady spot. New roots should form in 2-6 weeks. Once the roots have formed, the plant can be transplanted to a new pot or outdoors.


Why Plectranthus won't bloom? The plant blooms more often in the summer and the flowers are not very decorative. The plant weakens and gives it a slovenly appearance, so it is better to remove flowers in a timely manner.

Transfer or Repotting

How much I must water Plectranthus? So, you can change it every year if you want to. Plectranthus grows quickly, so you can often use young plants that have grown from cuttings.

Caring The Plectranthus

How to care the plant? If you want to encourage more abundant growth and bushiness, cut the shoots of old plants back to about 10 cm in spring. Also periodically pinch back young shoots. Plectranthus can be grown as an ampel plant, used in compositions, or as a ground cover crop. In summer it can be moved to a balcony or planted in a garden.

Pests & Challenges

What is the challenge when caring Plectranthus plant? So, if the plant looks unhealthy, it may need an emergency transplant. If the plant is not getting enough light, the leaves will be small and pale. If the plant is getting too much light, the leaves will turn yellow and curl. The plant may also lose leaves and the stems may rot if it is getting too much water.

Toxic & Poisonous Type

Are Plectranthus poisonous? known as spur flower, this plant is a member of the mint family. It is a native of South Africa, and has been introduced to other parts of the world, including Australia, where it is considered an invasive species. All parts of the plant are toxic to humans and animals if ingested, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. The plant contains a chemical called plectranthrin, which is a powerful insecticide.