Pot plants: Plectranthus, Swedish ivy, Plectranthus australis, Plectranthus behrii, Plectranthus coleoides or P. forsteri, Plectranthus nummularis, Plectranthus oertendahlii, Plectranthus saccatus

Pot plants: Plectranthus, Swedish ivy, Plectranthus australis, Plectranthus behrii, Plectranthus coleoides or P. forsteri, Plectranthus nummularis, Plectranthus oertendahlii, Plectranthus saccatus

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Classification, origin and description

Common name: Swedish ivy (for P. oertendahlii).
Kind: Plectranthus.

Family: Labiateae.

Etymology: from the Greek "plectron", spur and "anthos", flower, due to the presence of a small tube, similar to a spur, which forms the corolla on its back.
Origin: tropical climate regions.

Genre description: includes about 250 species of perennial plants, suffruticose, shrubby or herbaceous, bulbous with quadrangular stems, opposite leaves, generally with toothed margins and terminal panicle inflorescences, which appear in summer. The plants grown in the apartment usually have a prostrate habit and are well suited for use in hanging baskets. They are easy to grow and fast growing.

Plectranthus myrianthus (Agricultural Technical Institute Florence) (website photo)

Species and varieties

Plectranthus australis: native to Australia, this erect bushy species has 4 cm long, oval, waxy leaves with a sharp apex and dark green color. It grows up to 1 m. in height.

Plectranthus behrii: native to South Africa, this erect-bearing species, which reaches one meter in height, has leaves with a broad and ridged blade, green-bronze in color with red veins. It produces flowers with the characteristic pink spur, which appear gathered in long spikes.

Plectranthus coleoides o P. forsteri: native to Australia and New Zealand, this species has an erect bearing up to 30 cm. of height, after which the quadrangular stems assume a falling trend. On the market there is almost exclusively the variety "Marginatus" with opposite leaves, 5-7 cm long, with a heart-shaped, tomentose, light green color, with crenate margins bordered in white or cream-white. Sometimes the central part of the leaf can have two shades of green. The flowers are insignificant and it is preferred to remove them as soon as they appear to favor the development of the leaves.

Plectranthus myrianthus

Plectranthus neochilus

Plectranthus nummularis: native to Australia, this species has a prostrate habit and roundish leaves, of a waxy consistency and green color, with purple ribs, on the upper page and green-gray, on the lower one.

Plectranthus oertendahlii: native to southern Africa, this prostrate-bearing species has purple stems that emit aerial roots, in correspondence with the nodes and bear leaves, from 2.5 to 5 cm wide, with a rounded, bronze-green leaf, with spots silver along the main ribs, on the upper page; pink-purple color, on the lower one. From the beginning of June until October, it produces 1.5 cm long, tubular, white or light lavender flowers, which appear united in sparse panicles or erect apical racemes, 10-15 cm long. It grows up to 15 cm. in height and 40-60 cm. wide. It is suitable for growing in hanging baskets.

Plectranthus saccatus: native to South Africa, this semi-sliding species has small light green leaves and blue-purple flowers that appear in abundance in summer.

Plectranthus neochilus (Berlin Botanical Garden) (photo website)

Plectranthus saccatus (Berlin Botanical Garden) (photo website)

Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions

Temperature: the minimum winter temperature should not be lower than 13-16 ° C.
Light: very good and widespread, away from direct sunlight.
Watering and environmental humidity: water frequently in summer; thinning doses in winter (without letting the soil dry out completely). It has no particular humidity requirements, but prefers well-ventilated and non-stagnant environments. However, spraying the foliage with warm water every 3-4 days will be welcome.
Substrate: composed of equal parts of earth of mature leaves and fertilized earth, with the addition of sand and peat to increase its permeability and lightness.
Special fertilizations and tricks: repotted in April, if necessary. Hanging baskets must be lined with sphagnum, never with plastic. In spring-summer, administer liquid fertilizer twice a week. Usually the plants lose the basal leaves and it will be good to renew them by cutting at least once a year.

Multiplication and pruning

Multiplication: new specimens can be obtained at any time of the year by placing cuttings 8-10 cm long in a peat and sand-based substrate, kept humid, in good indirect light and at a temperature of 16-20 ° C. ., taken from the apical shoots by cutting under a knot and taking care to eliminate the lower leaves. After rooting (when the vegetation begins to recover), the seedlings must be transplanted, in 8 cm pots. in diameter or in hanging baskets, in groups of 3-4 and treated as adult plants. Cuttings also root well in pure water. You can also proceed, in April-May, to the division of the roots, which will be planted immediately in the same compost used for adult plants.
Pruning: if necessary to maintain the shape of the plant, pruning can be carried out in the spring and a topping of the apices to stimulate the production of new shoots.

Diseases, pests and adversities

- Leaves that wilt and wilt: insufficient watering; the substrate was probably left to dry completely. If the plant remains dry for a long time, there are not many possibilities for recovery.

- Blackened stems: they probably accompany a rotting root system due to excessive watering or a fungal attack. In the second case, eliminate the infected plant, after having taken the healthy stems to make cuttings.

- Powdery mildew or white malt: it is caused by mushrooms of the Eirisifacee family. It is the cause of the appearance of powdery white spots on leaves and stems, characterized by a typical musty smell. It particularly affects plants kept in too shady positions in the winter, especially if the environment is hot and humid. Treat the plant with a fungicide.

- Aphids: attack leaves and flowers. They suck the sap and make the plant sticky. They are eliminated by washing the plant and treating it with specific insecticides.

- Cotton mealy bugs: can attack plants, especially in hot and dry climates. You have to remove them, treat the plant with an anticoccidic product and raise the level of environmental humidity (the spraying and the washing of the leaves allow to eliminate the cochineals in the larval state). As an alternative to the chemical, the affected parts can be rubbed with a cotton swab wet with water and alcohol.

Video: Growing A Jungle In My New York Apartment (August 2022).