A few years back, I was poking around at the outdoor garden centre, and came across this gorgeous plant. It was sold as a filler plant for hanging baskets, or other container garden displays.
I soon discovered though that this beauty was way more than that.
Purple Swedish Ivy – Plectranthus australis: native to northern Australia and the Pacific Islands.
Yea, so no clue how it got to be called Swedish Ivy, I’m wondering if just for it’s rather hardy nature. I still use it in outdoor planters, and to my surprise it is rather tough – even left it outside until the snow flies…and it does just fine.
So, when I bought it I didn’t know any of this, or that it could be a houseplant. After some research I discovered its natural habit, and that in fact in the right light it could be wintered over inside.
Now, I don’t know, atleast 5 years now I suppose, every year I take some cuttings from my outdoor planters I’ve had it in, and put them in water. They root super-duper quick, and in no time at all you have a new plant.
Now, I still have the mother plant, the original… but it has been chopped and propped many a time. It’s been pruned back a number of times over the years. It is one of those types that can get a bit leggy when its brought in, so pruning is recommended. Then, just stick them in some water to root.
Actually, with its fleshy stems, I’ve even stuck them in the soil, and they’ve rooted themselves just fine.
The wonderful thing about this gem, is that in my outdoor full shade garden, the leaves on it become this rich dark emerald, the undersides go purple, and the size of the leaves become much larger. It THRIVES in my northern exposure, in basically no direct sun at all, just that gentle understory light.
To over winter, well, in the past that has not been as easy, and so I just took cuttings and put them on the windowsill until the spring. Today though I have some grow lights and decided to just bring the whole thing in… lock, stock, and container.
Em, yea, so now I have about 4 or so of them, including the tall outdoor container, all filling out my little jungle space.
Oh, and another bonus is you can just pot some of the rooted cuttings up and give to friends.
I do find they like water, and they tell you when they need some, as the leaves sort of wilt down a bit… like they’re sad.
Light wise, as mentioned they do very well outside in bright indirect light, but can handle some sun… part sun… either east light or late afternoon… the leaves burn if they get too much full sun. Also, the more shade they get, the bigger the leaves.
No fancy soil required. And, some years they’ve even flowered for me… though I don’t know why, what I did right, or wrong, to get them to flower. So they can, but they usually don’t.
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen them again since that day years ago, so not certain how easy they are to find. However, if you do, grab one… you won’t be sorry. Even over the fall and winter, if they can get the right light, they do look fine… though not as big, bold and beautiful as they do in the summer.