HOW TO CARE FOR PLECTRANTHUS AUSTRALIS (SWEDISH IVY)

The Plectranthus Australis is also known as Swedish Ivy, Swedish begonia, and whorled plectranthus. It is one of the most famous and most grown house plants in Sweden and many other countries. This plant does not originate from Sweden and it is also not an Ivy plant but due to its popularity in Sweden and its cascading habit like the Ivy plants, it was given the name of Swedish Ivy.

Originally, this plant is from Northern Australia and the Pacific region but nowadays grown worldwide as a house plant in the hanging baskets and ground covers in the lawns and gardens. The plant has beautiful green leaves with scalloped edges and they are very aromatic as well. Small white-colored flowers can also be seen during the days of blooming, mostly in the spring season.

The stem of the plant is weak and cascades like most of the plants from the Ivy family. They also grow a small 1mm sized fruit as well. This is most popular among gardeners as it is one of the easiest species to grow. They can be grown easily both indoors and outdoors. This plant is not a cold-hardy plant and can not survive frost. To grow them in a cold region you might have to keep them inside and provide them a constant temperature between 60 and 75 F. (16-24 C).

How to Water Plectranthus Australis (Swedish Ivy)

Swedish Ivy mostly requires water once a week but this can change depending on weather, climate, area, and soil as well. Experts advise that Swedish Ivy must be planted in a soil that can quickly drain the water and water only if the soil has been completely dry.

If the soil is not dry within the week, do not water. If you have planted the Swedish ivy in the outdoor garden soil as a ground cover, the soil will turn dry due to the sunlight and you can water them once a week. But if they are grown inside, you need to make sure that you provide them a way for draining and plant them in a soil that can quickly dry out the excess water.

Follow the instructions below to water the Swedish Ivy:

  • Let the soil completely dry between the watering sessions. Check the soil if it is dry or not and then water it. Watering once a week is recommended in most of the areas, do not let the plants completely dry.
  • During the plantation and early days of the plant growth, you might need to provide more water to keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout and the seedlings come out of the ground.
  • Once seedlings come out of the soil, you need to water them based on a proper schedule, once the plants are mature, you can water them less frequently as they can then settle their roots in the soil and can get water trapped in the soil.
  • There is no defined universal watering schedule for the Swedish Ivy plants, but you can create a schedule based on the plant’s age, sunlight, temperature, soil, and climate factors.
  • If you are growing the Swedish Ivy plants in the hot regions you need to provide them more water as the soil will quickly dry in the hot regions and for cold regions, less frequent watering is advised as the soil will not quickly dry.
  • In the summertime, more frequent watering is required to cope with the impact of the heat of the summer, and in winter less frequent watering is better as the soil will take more time to dry.

Lighting and Temperature needs for Plectranthus Australis (Swedish Ivy)

Lighting Requirements

Swedish Ivy plants like to be grown in the partial sun to partial shade. they thrive under the bright indirect sunlight, and they can also be grown indoors as well. If you are planting them indoors, you might need to place them where they can get more sunlight. Their faster growth is also associated with the amount of light they get. So, if you want your Swedish ivy to grow faster and become a beautiful cascading plant hanging with your wall, you need to place them somewhere they can get enough sunlight.

  • If you have a window that is facing east, this is the best place to keep them, also if you have a place in your house where sunlight directly or indirectly enters the house, you can place them in such a place.
  • If your plant is showing a retarded or slow growth, this can also be due to the low availability of sunlight, you can keep it under the direct sunlight and check if it starts to grow faster, if this happens that means your plant was not getting enough sunlight.
  • Most of the time when you take an indoor plant and place it under the full sun, the leaves of the plant might wilt due to the sunburn. To prevent this, first place them under low sunlight and then full sunlight to protect them from sunburn.

Temperature requirements

The Swedish Ivy plants are not cold hardy plants and they can not be grown outdoors in the extremely cold regions. They also can not survive the frost during the wintertime.

  • If you are looking forward to planting them in the cold regions, you will have to keep them indoors and provide them a temperature between 60 and 75 F (16-24 C).
  • Extremely hot environments are also hostile to the Swedish Ivy. The Swedish Ivy doesn’t like extremely hot and extremely cold temperatures, they thrive under the moderate temperatures.
  • If you want to plant the Swedish Ivy in either an extremely hot or extremely cold region, you might need to keep them indoors to protect them from the adverse temperatures.

Soil needs for Plectranthus Australis (Swedish Ivy)

A well-draining soil that can quickly dry the excess water is the best soil for the Swedish Ivy plants. This type of soil is used for most of the house plants that require a quick-draining soil. The soil for Swedish Ivy plants contains more sand and perlite that make it porous and enable it to quickly drain the excess water.

This type of soil contains pumice, compost, and sometimes fertilizers as well. All these elements make the soil nutrient full and also make it porous. The benefit of such a soil is that it does not trap water in it. A loamy soil that can trap water inside it for the long term, and has a very low amount of sand, perlite, and compost is not good for Swedish Ivy plants as it will harm the roots of the young Swedish Ivy plants.

Fertilizer for Plectranthus Australis (Swedish Ivy)

Fertilizers help the plants to thrive, the soil, where the plants are planted, contains a limited amount of nutrients. These nutrients are consumed by the plant and they quickly deplete. Once they deplete you need to add fertilizers to help your plant maintain its growth otherwise due to the lack of nutrients plants may even die. Below are the details about the fertilizers and how to properly use them for Swedish Ivy plants.

Types of Fertilizers

There are different types of fertilizers available in the market these days. Most of these fertilizers are nitrogen-based, phosphorus-based, or contain potassium, calcium, and other necessary elements for the proper growth of the plants.

  • Nitrogen-based fertilizers contain nitrates and their use is very common for most of the plants. There are further two different types of nitrogen-based fertilizers 1. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer without inhibitors and 2. 1. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer with inhibitors.
  • Phosphorus-based fertilizers contain phosphates, they are divided into Single, double triple, and tetra superphosphates. 
  • Other fertilizers are mostly based on a combination of essential elements such as potassium, calcium, and sulfur.

How to use Fertilizers

Before fertilizing the plants you need to test the soil for nutrient deficiencies and use the fertilizers according to the recommendations. Consider that the soil contains nitrogen and lacks phosphates, you should use more phosphate-based fertilizers.

This test is mostly done before the plantation, but if you don’t have a soil test or fertilizer recommendations, you can use the fertilizers based on the plant’s age, the color of foliage and leaves, flowering, and not-flowering habits.

There are three different ways to fertilize your Swedish Ivy plants depending upon the different situations.

  1. Before planting the seeds or cuttings of the Swedish Ivy, add fertilizers into the soil. In this way, and provide a little water so that fertilizer can dissolve and become a part of the soil. This will help boost the initial growth of the plant.
  2. Once you have planted the Swedish Ivy, you can spread the fertilizers in the soil around the plants. And then water it, this is a direct fertilizing method and if you over-fertilize the plants using this method, it can also harm the plant’s roots and stem. So, be careful while directly spreading the fertilizer around the plant.
  3. The third method for fertilizing the Swedish Ivy includes creating a mixture of required fertilizer with water and then feeding this mixture to the plants periodically while watering.

Only provide fertilizers to your plants once every 40 to 50 days and provide the exact quantity of fertilizer that is recommended. Overfeeding the fertilizers will never help your plants thrive, but it will destroy your plant’s roots and stem, and sometimes it can even kill the plants as well. Soil tests, recommendations for fertilizer based on soil tests, and using the fertilizers with caution will help Swedish Ivy plants to thrive.

How to Prune Plectranthus Australis (Swedish Ivy)

Pruning is important for the plant’s proper growth as it helps the new leaves and branches to grow and boosts the overall growth of the plant. Pruning also helps in cleaning and cutting of the dead parts and the excess parts of the plant as well.

Pruning once a year is enough for the Swedish Ivy plants. Before the spring you can prune the plants as in the spring Swedish Ivy will grow new leaves and branches. The plant can survive severe pruning as well.

Use the special tools that are made for the pruning and remove all the excess and dead branches, leaves from the stem of the plant. After pruning, water the plant and provide it bright sunlight so that it can show an optimum growth and recovery.

How to Repot Plectranthus Australis (Swedish Ivy)

The Swedish Ivy plants require repotting once every two to three years. They most require repotting as they outgrow the pot they are placed in. if you do not repot the Swedish Ivy once every two or three years, you might see a retarded growth of the plant and you might also see that your plant has stopped producing the tiny flowers.

Repotting the Swedish Ivy is not a very difficult task, below I have explained how simply you can repot your Swedish Ivy plants.

  • You need to choose a bigger basket or pot. Make sure that the new pot is almost 2 inches wider than the previous pot.
  • Add the potting soil in the pot. Make sure that you are using the soil that is recommended for the Swedish Ivy plants.
  • Add some fertilizers or compost in the soil if you want. Once your pot is ready, you can uproot the Swedish Ivy plant and transfer it to the new pot.
  • Make sure not to damage any roots or stem of the Swedish ivy plant. Carefully place the plant in the new pot and add some more soil to cover the roots of the plant.
  • After repotting, provide some water to the plant in a new pot and let it be under the indirect bright sunlight for some time.

One of the most common mistakes that people make during the repotting is that they uproot the plant before preparing the new pot and they keep the plant’s root without any covering, this exposure of roots can harm the plant’s roots. That is why it is recommended to prepare the new pot first and transfer the plant immediately to the new pot or do not leave the roots without covering.

How to Propagate Plectranthus Australis (Swedish Ivy)

The best method to propagate the Swedish Ivy plants is using the cuttings. You need to look for a healthy stem and take cuttings with the help of a sterile sharp knife. Once you have taken the cuttings, it is time for them to be placed in the rooting hormone. Leave them in the rooting hormone for some time. After that, you need to keep the cuttings in indirect light for a few days and keep providing them watering with a sprayer. Cover the pot with plastic to create a humid and warm environment for the cuttings to grow new roots.

After planting the cuttings in the soil provide them some water and keep them in a bright place for a few days. Once the cuttings start showing the signs of growth you can then take care of them like a regular plant. Keep the soil moist for most of the time, this will help the cuttings quickly grow.

Growing Swedish Ivy From Seeds

Swedish Ivy plants grow very tiny fruits from the flowers. These fruits contain the tiny seeds of the Swedish Ivy plants. These seeds are also used for the plantation of new Swedish Ivy plants. It is recommended that when planting these seeds you should not cover them with the soil or sow them under the soil.

Simply place the seeds on the soil of the pot and place it in the partial sunlight for a few days. Late spring is the best time for planting the seeds as it is the time when seeds can get enough light and warmth to grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Is Creeping Charlie the same as Swedish Ivy?

Answer: Yes, the Creeping Charlie and Swedish Ivy are the two names of the same plant. The Swedish Ivy plant has a trailing nature and that is why it is named as the Creeping Charlie plant as well.

Question: Is Swedish Ivy invasive?

Answer: Swedish Ivy plants are not an invasive species as they do not grow and spread around the place where you have planted them. Most of the Swedish Ivy plants stay always where you have planted them and they do not spread around at all. In outdoor environments, Swedish ivy plants can not survive in the extremely cold and extremely hot conditions and this also ensures that Swedish Ivy plants will not spread all over your garden space.

Question: Is Swedish Ivy an indoor plant?

Answer: Yes, Swedish Ivy is an indoor plant. They require a bright shady place to properly grow as they can not grow under the full sunlight and their beautiful trailing nature makes them a perfect choice for an indoor plant.

Question: How to prune Swedish Ivy?

Answer: Swedish Ivy plants require pruning once a year for their proper growth. You can prune the Swedish Ivy plants before the starting days spring as in the spring new leaves and branches will grow and replace the pruned ones. Use specialized tools for pruning such as garden scissors and cutters.