Swedish Ivy is an extremely popular houseplant that’s common in the household.
It’s perfect for beginners to experts alike because of its near nonexistent care needs.
It’s used for everything from centerpiece decorations to tabletop highlights.
Also known as Swedish begonia or P. verticillatus, Swedish Ivy is showy with its soft textured leaves, gorgeous color, plus climbing lateral stems!
Let’s dive in and learn how to grow and care for Swedish Ivy.
This big, pretty, and leggy plant can grow up to 3 feet wide, so it’s perfect for void fill in those empty rooms that could use some sprucing up in your house.
It doesn’t require much in terms of care. It basically takes care of itself. And it’s a perennial, so you can enjoy it forever. No need to rebuy your plants every year. This household plant will get bigger and longer with care.
It’s commonly used in those picturesque household pics for good reason. Now you can get a piece of the action- for the ‘gram!
Quick care guide: Swedish ivy
|Plant type||Evergreen perennial|
|Scientific name||Plectranthus verticillatus
|Other names||Swedish ivy, Swedish begonia or whorled plectranthus|
|Soil type||Fertile, loamy, well-draining, potting mix|
|Soil pH||5.5-6.5 (acidic)|
|Sunlight requirement||Full sun, indirect|
|Colors||White, green, purple|
|Max height||10 inches|
|Max width||3 feet|
|Low temperature tolerance||50F|
|High temperature tolerance||80F|
|Ideal temperature range||70-75F|
|Humidity||High (60% or higher)|
|Watering requirements||1" per week, but adjust as necessary for weather|
|Fertilizer requirements||Minimal, liquid fertilizer during spring and summer as needed|
|Plant food NPK||1-1-1 or 5-5-5|
|Days until germination||2-3 weeks from seed|
|Days until harvest||Does not fruit|
|Bloom time||May to July|
|Speed of growth||Slow|
|Hardiness zones||10, 11|
|Plant depth||0.25" from seed, same depth of root ball in original container if transplanting|
|Plant spacing||24 inches|
|Plant with||Calathea, Bird's Nest Fern, Orchid|
|Don't plant with||Plants that need sunlight directly|
|Propagation method||Seeds, cuttings|
|Common pests||Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs|
|Common diseases||Root rot, leaf spot, downy mildew, damping-off, and blight|
|Grown in container||Yes|
|Care level||Easy (requires very little care)|
|Best uses||Hanging plant, centerpiece, indoor decor, patios, gardens, fireplaces, mantles, fireplaces|
What’s Swedish Ivy?
Swedish Ivy is a perennial that’s very closely related to mint plants. It’s commonly found in the household hanging over edges or in hanging plant baskets.
It has tiny green leaves that span about 0.5” in length with a glossy shiny texture.
The foliage is broad shaped with serrated edges. The majority of Swedish Ivy is green, but there are some that are purple or white. Each leaf has a spur at the flower base which makes it look spur shaped.
Swedish ivies will droop when they hang, which makes them perfect for vertical gardens. It is part of the genus Plectranthus, which classifies it as a perennial evergreen.
There is some confusion over the proper labeling of this ivy.
Is Swedish Ivy poisonous?
Swedish Ivy is not poisonous, but it’s easy to see where the stigma comes from.
Swedish Ivy is safe for dogs and cats. It’s also not dangerous to touch. However, it does emit some pungent scent if disturbed. The green flowers have that scary look where it doesn’t want to be touched with those serrations.
But don’t worry, the only thing you need to worry about is washing your hands if you touch the leaves.
Types of Swedish Ivy
Here are some common types of Swedish Ivy you can find for sale:
- Spanish Thyme
- Big green and white
- Indian coleus
- Golden Light
- Vick’s Plant
- Green fuzzy
Where to buy Swedish Ivy
If you want to start from seed, you can buy seed packets online (see Amazon).
Swedish Ivy can be purchased at your local nursery if you’re looking for pre-germinated plants. This gives you a good idea of exactly of what you’re getting. Taking the cuttings from this plant will give you a clone of it. This is ideal if you want al your plants to match for floral decor.
Otherwise, plants can be shipped from other nurseries to your location if you don’t have them growling natively in you zone.
How to propagate Swedish Ivy
Propagating Swedish Ivy is easy as new seeds and cuttings both have decent germination rates.
You can choose to purchase seeds of the cultivar that you like, or you can use a pre-grown one and take cuttings from it.
By using cuttings, you save time by skipping seed germination. You also know exactly what you’re getting because the cutting will look just like the plant you took it from. Cuttings can be taken from the stem.
Growing Swedish Ivy from seed takes the longest, but it can be the most rewarding.
Do some reading on the different types of ivy you can buy and then buy a packet of seeds from a reputable nursery.
Follow the directions on the package to germinate.
- Swedish Ivy can be germinated in a starter try but will have to be thinned and then transplanted to a real potter later.
- Get a seed starter kit and fill it with the soil you plan to use later on. The soil should be well-draining and high-quality potting mix.
- Sow 2-3 seeds per compartment 0.25 inch deep. Cover with backfill.
- Water generously to start the germination. Cover with the humidity dome.
- Keep watering whenever it dries out.
- Ivy seeds will germinate in 2-3 weeks. When they grow their first pair of true leaves, move them to their new pots. Thin to the strongest plant per compartment.
To propagate from cuttings you’ll need a fully grown Swedish Ivy.
If you have a neighbor or friend that can provide you with one, then you’re all set. Get a sterilized pair of pruners and get to work!
Take cuttings in the spring or summer because the plant will be actively growing, which makes it easier for it to root.
Get a small planter and make sure that it has multiple drainage holes on the bottom. Fill it with high quality, nutrient-dense potting mix. The soil should be well-draining.
Fill the bottom layer of the pot with some pebbles or aquarium gravel. This will help prevent clogging of the soil over time.
Next, pick your ivy to take cuttings from. Whatever plant you cut is what you’ll get. Some hybrid ivies can produce other colors, so make sure it’s a purebred plant if you want a specific color of ivy leaves.
Choose a plant with young, green leaves that are smaller than the others. Look for a newer branch and take a clean cutting of at least 5 inches. Cut at 45 degrees right above a leaf node. This will help it root.
Keep those pruners handy because next, you’re going to prep the cutting. Remove the leaves from the bottom few inches of the branch (the end that you cut).
But leave the top pairs of leaves alone. It needs to photosynthesize sunlight in order to grow. Get some high-quality rooting hormone and dip it as directed. You can choose from gels or powders.
Next, get your potter and place the cutting in it. The bottom portion that you cut should be covered by the soil. This includes the part with the leaves that you cut off.
The top pairs of leaves should be left intact above the soil line.
In other words, don’t cover them with soil or else risk blight or rot. Firmly place the cutting in the center of the pot. Pack lightly with soil.
Put the planter somewhere in your house that receives bright sunlight.
It should be bright, but not direct full sun. Sunlight that’s too strong will scorch it, but too little light will hamper the growth of your ivy. Put it on a countertop in your kitchen.
Keep it out of HVAC, drafts, windows, etc. The temperature should be stable. The same goes for the humidity, so avoid bathrooms while it’s still trying to take root. Swedish Ivy should root within 2-3 weeks. Keep the soil moist, but never wet.
Moving to a larger container
When you think it’s rooted, give it gentle tugs on the plant to see if it resists. If so, it’s a good sign that it’s rooted! Congrats.
When this happens, it’s finally time to move it to its permanent container. Choose a 6-8 inch container. It should have good drainage.
Fill it to the top 1” with fresh potting mix. Do NOT use garden soil- they’re not the same thing. It doesn’t pay to go cheap with garden mix because your ivy will suffer.
Use your finger to dig a 2” hole. Place the cutting into it with the roots. Cover with soil, but not more than that. The soil should not be touching the leaves you left intact.
Place the pot somewhere that gets bright, indirect sunlight.
Propagating in water
Propagating in water is pretty cool.
You can literally see the roots growing out of the cutting over time. Follow the steps outlined above to prepare it the same way (take a cutting, remove the leaves, etc.).
But instead of putting it into a pot with soil, get a mason jar and fill it with a few inches of distilled or RO water.
The water level should fully cover the cut end and the leaves you cut off, but not the leaves that you left intact. Set the container somewhere with bright light and watch for the roots to form.
They should look like tiny white hairs that sprout over the course of 2-3 weeks. If you see mold or fungus growing on the roots, you need to start over. It’s likely that it was infected with something from the start.
When it’s rooted, you can move it to a planter or move it to your garden.
How to care for Swedish Ivy
Here are some general guidelines for ivy plant care. It’s not 100% applicable to every single Swedish Ivy type, but they should have very similar care requirements. Use them as a rule of thumb to get the most out of your plant.
Swedish Ivy grows in zones 10 through 11. It’s well suited for indoor growing and can be moved outdoors, but this will change the color of the leaves from green to purple.
By nature, Swedish Ivy is native to Central America, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and even down in Australia.
Swedish Ivy thrives in a variety of conditions as long as they meet a minimum temperature requirement with bright, dappled sunlight.
Even if you’re in a lower hardiness zone, it’s OK because you can shelter it to provide it with what it needs to thrive.
The soil should be soft, well-draining, and have a high nutrient potting mix. It doesn’t need to be fancy or organic, but it should be made for potted plants. Swedish Ivy isn’t picky with its substrate as it can adapt to a wide variety of conditions.
Soil pH levels between 5.5-6.5 are ideal for ivy. It provides acidity which houseplants love. Most potting mixes are already set by default to be slightly lower in pH. If you need to lower it, there are natural ways to do so, such as using lime or sulfur-based products.
Plant each seed 0.25″ deep when starting from seed. Plant each root ball as deep and wide as the size of the root ball.
Each plant should be placed in its own container. Housing multiple ivies together will get you a fuller look, but at the cost of splitting nutrients between each plant.
If planting in the garden, space each plant 2 feet (24 inches) apart from one another.
The only time you should put them close together is when germinating from seed. Otherwise, house each plant individually for those gorgeous green leaves. No need to force them together.
Swedish Ivy needs at least 6 hours of bright, indirect full sun each day. During the growing season in the spring and summer, the sun is critical for it to grow those dark green leaves.
In the later months when temperatures dip, sunlight can be reduced without harm to the plant. Do not put your ivy in sunlight directly. This will scorch or burn it.
Crispy or brown leaves are a sign of too much light, while yellowing leaves are usually a sign of too little watering or light.
The temp should be kept between 70-75F for ideal growing conditions. This ivy grows during the summer when the outdoors are warm and toasty.
But for the rest of the growing season, temperatures above 60F are good enough.
Swedish Ivy can tolerate some degree of cold temperatures. Anything lower than 50F will kill the plant, so use your heater or a heat lamp if needed for those cold winter nights indoors.
Row covers or mini-greenhouses are also options to consider for warm-loving ivy.
Place the pot somewhere that gets plenty of moisture in the air because Swedish Ivy loves high humidity.
The thing to keep in mind is that it shouldn’t fluctuate. Avoid bathrooms or other areas where humidity spikes throughout the day. Aim for humidity levels above 60%.
If your indoor humidity is dry, spritz the plant with some light misting of distilled water several times a day. Or make a humidity dish. Or a humidifier. Dry plants will bring in pests like spider mites.
Water once per week aiming for 1” of water.
Use distilled or purified water only for best results. Swedish Ivy, like most plants, doesn’t tolerate chlorine or fluoride in water. Adjust your watering as necessary (water more if dry, less if wet, etc.).
Yellowing leaves are a sign of watering, which kills Swedish Ivy. So water less. In the summer and spring, you can up the watering frequency.
But in the fall and winter, you only need to water your ivy about once per month or so. The plant goes into dormancy mode which doesn’t require as much water as the summertime when it’s still growing.
The soil should dry out between watering sessions.
Yellow leaves are a sign of too much water. Rubbery or wilting leaves are a sign of too little watering. Use your finger or a moisture meter (see on Amazon) to check the soil water levels.
By watering just a bit under what it needs, its root rot has a lower chance of taking place.
Plant food is optional but highly recommended for Swedish Ivy during the spring and summer periods where it’s actively growing.
Use a liquid fertilizer and use it as directed. Any generic all-purpose indoor plant fertilizer will do. Look for NPKs of 1-1-1 or 5-5-5. Do not feed in the wintertime as it’ll just build up.
Ivies don’t need regular pruning or maintenance that often to stay tidy.
Once a month, use a sharp clean pair of scissors to cut off leggy parts.
This will help keep it looking clean. It also helps your plant grow more leaves rather than branches. Stems that are growing a lot longer than the others with no foliage should be removed. Cut off yellowing or browning leaves as well.
Regular trimming will help keep your plant in shape and get rid of misshapen leaves. Don’t be scared to give it a good trimming.
Swedish Ivy will bloom if kept under warm conditions with enough sunlight. Pinch the stems back to encourage branching rather than wasting energy on blooms. Do this when the flowers are spent.
If you give your ivy enough sunlight hours during the summertime, it can grow flowers!
These purple spiked flowers are pretty to look at and you can even collect the seeds for them to grow more. When grown indoors, Swedish Ivy won’t flower.
But if you put it outside for a few hours during the summertime until it fully adjusts to the outdoor weather, it can produce flowers. Try lowering your watering regime at the same time to encourage the flowering of your plant.
When your Swedish Ivy outgrows its container, it’s time to repot. Not doing so will stunt its growth of it.
The right time to repot is when the roots start to touch the edges. Or when you see the roots coming out of the drainage holes on the bottom.
The new pot should be wider in diameter by about 3 inches. It should be the same few inches deeper. Don’t get the biggest pot you can buy because it can be too large. Ensure it has enough drainage holes with a saucer.
To transplant ivy, you’ll have to be careful not to harm the roots it has. They’re very fragile and will snap under the slightest pressure.
Here’s how to do it:
- Choose a container that’s at least 12 inches wide and 8 inches deep. Or at least 3 inches wider and deeper than the previous pot it outgrew.
- Swedish Ivy will grow pretty tall and wide, so keep that in mind. Just because it’s a small plant above the surface doesn’t mean the roots are the same!
- Just don’t go crazy with it because too much excess space in the potter will make the soil too wet when you water.
- Fill it with a high-quality potting mix. Don’t use the old soil because you can transmit viruses or bacteria to the new one.
- It also has depleted itself of nutrients in the soil column, so there’s no point to keep it. Use new soil only. Try to stick with the same mix you used prior so the shock isn’t as great to the plant. If your soil lacks nutrients, you can supplement with some perlite, peat moss, or coconut coir.
- Use a small spade to dig up the soil. Uprooting the root ball is simple, but you need to be careful. Start from the edges of the container and loosen the soil. Water it first if the soil is tough.
- If you’re using a plastic container, you can tilt it on its side then squeeze the edges to loosen the clump of dirt that’s surrounding the Swedish Ivy roots.
- Use a dull knife or spade to avoid cutting the root ball by accident. You don’t know where the roots run, so don’t assume anything about it!
- Now that you know the size of the root system, dig a hole with a spade that’s just as big as the root ball. You can make it slightly bigger to move the roots to the new container without having to damage it by stuffing it.
- Fill the space around the root ball until it’s firmly in place. Be careful to not touch the stem with soil.
- Water generously until the soil is saturated and it drains to the saucer.
- Move it back to its original location.
Swedish Ivy needs no special overwintering requirements. If you’re in a warmer hardiness zone, then you should be OK.
The plant can sit in your house as long as temperatures remain above 50F. If it dips below for extended periods, it can harm your plant. Use plant covers or heaters to help maintain the temperature. Prune off any wilting leaves or spent flowers.
If growing outside, bring it indoors for the wintertime so you don’t kill it. Plants should only be brought out during the summer if you want them to flower.
Otherwise, you can keep your Swedish Ivy indoors all year round. There’s no need to expose it to sunlight outside if you’re providing enough.
Seeds can be collected from flowering plants by removing the seeds gently. Store them in an envelope until you’re ready to use them. It’s much easier to just propagate from cuttings rather than trying to save seeds.
Swedish Ivy can be grown outdoors but should be sheltered from direct sunlight as it’s too strong for its leaves. If you put it outside, there’s a high chance it’ll flower in the summertime.
If filtered sunlight is provided, it can stay outside if temperatures are stable in the 70-75F range. It also needs to be hardened off before you move it outside or you may shock it.
Swedish Ivy should be planted by itself in its own container. You shouldn’t plant multiple ivies in the same planter because they’ll compete for nutrients. Don’t plant with anything else if container planting. If planting in the garden, plant with Bird’s Nest Fern, orchids, or calathea.
Don’t plant with
Don’t plant Swedish Ivy with sun-loving plants that need direct sun. This will scorch your plant because it can’t tolerate bright, direct light on its leaves.
P. verticillatus doesn’t suffer from many pests, but it does have a handful of common culprits that plague houseplants in general.
Some bugs you may find eating your Swedish Ivy are spider mites, brown scale, aphids, or mealybugs. These bugs like dry soil plants, and Swedish Ivy is a perfect example of one. If you notice bugs crawling on it, start by using a natural pest killer.
Remove any bugs you see and leaves that are infested. White webbing is usually the result of mealybugs. Copper fungicide, insecticidal soap, or just dish soap with water are all good choices.
Root rot, leaf spot, and other fungal infections are common with Swedish Ivy.
People kill their plants because they overwater and it grows fungus at the root level. When this happens, the plant will slowly wilt over time. You can prevent this by controlling how often you water.
The soil should never be soggy. It’s always better to be underwatered than overwatered.
Swedish Ivy is good for home decor. You can use it everywhere from a tabletop to a bookshelf.
Put it over the mantle on your fireplace. Hang it in your kitchen.
This versatile houseplant easily adapts to anything as long as the temperature is stable with bright light. Simple.
No wonder why it’s so darn popular with beginners.
Other tips and tricks for Swedish Ivy care
Here are some handy suggestions to keep your Swedish Ivy going strong.
Does Swedish Ivy like the sun?
Yes, Swedish Ivy loves the sun! But not too much of it. And make sure it’s filtered or else you’ll burn it. If planting indoors, put it in a bright sunny room without the sun shining directly on the leaves.
How do you make a Swedish Ivy bushy?
You can make it grow wider and fuller by regularly pruning it when it gets too tall. This will force it to grow bushier instead. Cut off any leggy stems and flowers. Basically, try to keep it compact in one place. This will encourage it to grow bushier.
Is Swedish Ivy a perennial?
Swedish Ivy is an evergreen perennial, which means it’ll grow back on its own every season without you having to plant it.
Is Swedish Ivy a hanging plant?
Swedish Ivy is commonly grown in hanging setups, so yes. It can be hung from baskets then will climb downward, which makes it excellent for mantles or kitchens.
Does Swedish Ivy climb?
Swedish Ivy doesn’t climb but will trail. The plant can fill in voids in your home without climbing vertically.
Why are the leaves on my Swedish Ivy turning yellow?
The leaves turn yellow when there is too much water. Reduce watering and monitor for changes. Remove yellowed leaves.
Is Creeping Charlie the same as Swedish Ivy?
Creeping Charlie is very similar to Swedish Ivy. It has thin tiny leaves but the nickname is used for many other houseplants. It’s used interchangeably for Swedish Ivy.
Does Swedish Ivy smell?
Swedish Ivy has a foul smell when the leaves are disturbed. It smells pungent, but it’s harmless. If you don’t like the scent of it, put it somewhere hanging.
Or somewhere with good ventilation. If you don’t get too close to it, you won’t be able to smell it. The scent is a natural defense mechanism it has so it’s just something you need to deal with.
Plants similar to Swedish Ivy
Here are some plants like Swedish Ivy:
- Irish ivy
- Glacier ivy
- Bettina ivy
- Boston ivy
- Persian ivy
- Easy Houseplants: Swedish Ivy – The University of Vermont
- Plectranthus forsteri ‘Marginatus’ (Swedish Ivy) – NCSU
Enjoy your Swedish Ivy
With its tiny leaves and ease of care, Swedish Ivy is a perfect houseplant for someone looking to green up their room without a lot of work.
It can be used in a variety of scenarios and basically takes care of itself, minus the watering and pruning.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
I took interest into microflora and microgreens before it became mainstream. The idea of growing an entire ecosystem on a tiny scale simply was astounding. That’s where I discovered that I actually like raising plants and wasn’t as much of a black thumb as I thought. Now, I’m relaying what I’ve learned to others who are getting into the hobby in a way that anyone can understand.