The Q&A Archives: Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus Forsteri)

Question: Dear Madam or Sir:

I recently bought a beautiful potted hanging Swedish ivy, at least until I got it home. I thought this was an easy plant to care for but I can not seem to keep it alive. It is hanging on my porch and gets uneven sunlight as my porch is surrounded by a wooded area. The leaves are turning brown and then fall off. It is in a plastic hanging basket. I water every other day. Am I not watering sufficiently? Should I attempt to repot? It is incredible to believe that it is the same plant that I brought from the plant shop. I would appreciate your advice.


Sabrina Washington

Answer: Plectranthus forsteri is a spectacular plant and is normally easy to grow and vigorous. It will grow in coastal full sun but looks best in light shade where it can brighten up a dark spot in the garden. Hardy to 28 F. and tolerant of moderate to very little water.

I'm not sure why yours is so unhappy. Is there reflected sun or heat where your plant is hanging? Is it windy enough to burn the leaves? Inspite of the dying leaves, is your plant putting out new growth? (New growth is encouraging.)

I'd move the plant to a more protected spot for the time being, then water it thoroughly (immerse the container in a larger container of water). Allow excess water to drain, then wait until the top half-inch of soil dries out before watering again. Immersing the pot will drive out any air pockets that may have formed in and around the root mass.

Pinch the tips of the stems out to encourage new growth. If you see new growth in a few weeks, you'll know that it didn't like its original hanging spot and you'll need to find another place for it. If you don't see new growth, you might want to repot it in fresh potting soil. While it's unpotted, prune the roots back by an inch or so and then replant. This should encourage new root growth, which should result in new stems and leaves.

Hope one of these techniques brings your plant back to its original beauty!

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