Houseplants forum: I am seeking the advice from a Creeping Charlie expert please

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Name: Benny Hill
Castle Rock, CO (Zone 5a)
Making something out of a little bi
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
bennysplace
Dec 31, 2016 6:09 PM CST
Hello all,

I hope you all have had an amazing year. For the first time in a while, I have some time off so I am catching up on my 'to do' list. One thing that I have been meaning to do for a very long time is to seek some advice on the proper care of the Creeping Charlie houseplant. For those that have grown these successfully to the point where the plant reached its full potential, I would love to hear from you please.

I remember as a kid my mom tried growing this plant but she had a lot of trouble with it so finally gave up. Every now and again I will see wonderful specimens at a garden center and then I will have a flashback to my mom's grief and think better of the purchase. Couple that with the cost and it became easy to look the other way. Well, when I lived in Arizona, I bought one of these and planted it outside in the shade. I don't think it got any sun and if it did it was very early morning sun and that was it. It was constantly being watered. I do remember that. And this plant grew like the proverbial weed! It was glorious. I had it in a custom made raised planter along with some Australian violets and the foliage draped over nearly to the ground. The stand stood 5'. :)

We had to move away from Arizona and had to adapt once again to growing in a completely different climate -- the arid, unpredictable conditions of Colorado. I sold the planter box with contents before we left and of course I cannot grow a Creeping Charlie outside here (well maybe put it out in the summer) I never thought once to try it as a houseplant... until....

We were at a local nursery and they had a beautiful specimen growing as a hanging plant. It was marked down and I bought it. I thought I would go about this in the best way possible so I bought a very large clay pot for it and put in some of that beautiful Black Gold potting soil. When transplanting it, I lost MANY branches. They break so easily! It took a bit to recover and then, when growing its first location, I noticed leaves were turning black and falling. Too much sun? Perhaps? I moved it to an area that would get filtered western sun and it seems to do okay and by okay, the problem with the leaves blackening and falling seemed to have subsided but it looked sickly. Not enough nutrients? Perhaps? I decided to water it very regularly (every four days on average -- thinking back to the conditions in which it thrived in Arizona) and each time I put in a packet of Optimara for houseplants and perhaps it is me imagining things but it does appear the leaves are greening up a bit... but..

The plant still does not have that beautiful, deep, emerald green I remember from my specimen in Arizona and I do sometimes get a couple leaves falling. In the images I am providing, there is an example of the mottled leaves. This concerns me. Couple this with it not growing fast and well, here I am. So, for those wonderful folks who have successfully grown these to where they are taking over your living room, please reply. I know, given the right conditions, these plants can go nuts. I want my plant to do that. It has a whole corner devoted to it.

I did not mean to turn this into an essay but I thank you for reading and look forward to hearing from you.

Many, many thanks!
Benny
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Name: seaecho
Phelan, Ca. (Zone 8b)
There is ALWAYS room for one more p
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seaecho
Dec 31, 2016 7:00 PM CST
Some call these Creeping Charlies, and some don't. Seems to depend on what part of the country you're in. I have a variegated variety. Plectranthus is what this plant is. Many call it Swedish Ivy. Anyway, I had great luck with this plant when I lived in Long Beach, not more than a few miles from the shore. But once I moved inland, I found I couldn't keep them alive! (I love the way they smell, too!)

I tried a few times with no success. Now I have one that is variegated, and it's limping through winter, but doing pretty well compared to my past experiences in a dry climate. I mist it every day, and it has an asparagus fern next to it that gets misted too, and this helps with humidity. The fact though, that you had one in Arizona goes to show humidity may not be as important as we think.

Could yours possibly be variegated? Or is this happening on only a few leaves? I can see where it is more pale on some parts of some leaves, that's why I ask. Mine did get a few black leaves at first too. Mine is very small, in a 3" pot right now, and I sure hope it decides to thrive, because once you have one of these plants, you always want another when you lose it! I hear in some places it's practically a weed.

You say yours gets dappled sun. They don't like a WHOLE LOT of sun, so mine gets just the smallest amount of dappling in late afternoon, because they can and do burn easily. Bright light without direct sun is also favorable for this plant.
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Dec 31, 2016 7:08 PM CST
I've always known it as Swedish Ivy but I see that one of the common names for it is also Creeping Charlie. I grew it as a hanging basket plant years ago but haven't seen it around at garden centers in a long time; must have fallen out of popularity in this area I guess. I can't really offer advice as to the mottling on the leaves but hopefully someone who grows it will be along with suggestions soon.

Here's the database link: Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus)
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Benny Hill
Castle Rock, CO (Zone 5a)
Making something out of a little bi
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
bennysplace
Dec 31, 2016 7:56 PM CST
Hi Seaecho,

Thank you for your input on this thread. I really appreciate it! :)

It is not variegated and this is only happening on a few leaves.

As far as humidity, I would say that the corner where this plant box was kept rather humid actually. It was constantly being watered and there was a general feeling of moist soil in this area as it did not receive the sun. It was a very nice micro climate. In this same general area, I had Patchouli growing as well.

I have the blinds tilted up so that the area is more or less bright but no direct sun hits it.

@Plantladylin,

Thank you very kindly for your input as well. Yes, this is traditionally known as Swedish Ivy but using a common name form. Smiling Like you I hope someone who grows it will come along with suggestions.

I thank you both and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Benny
Name: Gita Veskimets
Baltimore or Nottingham MD-212 (Zone 7a)
Life is "mind over matter". If I d
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gitagal
Jan 3, 2017 1:58 PM CST
Benny--

Yes! The Swedish Ivy (it is neither Swedish--nor an ivy) has fallen out of popularity. Don't know why???

I had a customer (I work at HD in garden) come to me and ask if I had ever seen it in the last years--
and I said "Sure!" I grow a couple full HB's of it every summer--taking them in for the winter.
I promised her some rooted cutting--and she was the happiest person on earth.

I have always grown Swedish Ivy--in HB's. For years and years. I love the shiny leaves and how fast it grows.
If it gets a bit leggy--I just snip off the ends and start a new plant in a 6" pot-making the old basket more full.

---SOOO--If you were starting a new 6" pot of Sw. ivy--you will make 3 finger-holes in the soil and in EACH
finger-hole, you will put in 3 cuttings, So--9 total. Just shove them all in in a bunch.

---In an 8" pot--you would make 5 holes with 3 cuttings in each.

---10" pot--make about 8-10 holes-(3 cuttings each)--water it in and put it someplace to start growing.
Outside in summer would be ideal....in bright shade. No full sun is needed.
They will root quite fast--just be patient--as they will look wilted for a while...busy growing roots... Crossing Fingers!

With this # of cuttings--once they root in--you will have a nice, full growing HB in a couple of months.
Be patient! it takes a while for it to get really full. It has to make new tip growth--which will also make new tip growth, etc. Pinch out just the small growing tips to make it fuller.

Come summertime--I hang them from my high patio roof edge, kind of shaded by a nearby tree--
and they live there all summer. Our high humidity here in the summer helps this.
I water them when I turn the hose on my other plants outside. Never fertilize them Whistling --nothing.
I never do anything special--this plant is easy-peazy to grow. Believe me!!!

Now--there is a variegated one that looks like a Sw.Ivy--but it is not. It is called something else...???

From your description, Benny--seems you are fussing too much over these plants.
If you are just doing one cutting to a pot--it will not look like anything. Do the bunches as i wrote above.
Sometimes--ignorance is bliss when it comes to plants.

Now--NOW--SOME OVERALL OBSERVATIONS FROM YOUR INITIAL POST:

--You cannot compare the climate in AZ and how you watered it and took care of it with that in CO.
The climates are sooo different. You now live in CO! Not in the arid AZ!
--You are definitely watering it too much!! Every 4 days???? !!! Plus adding a fertilizer!!!! YIKES!!!

--planting the Sw Ivy in a " VERY LARGE CLAY POT" is, probably, your biggest mistake.
-- Big pots=too much soil in them Too much soil=too much water in the soil--which a plant cannot possibly absorb. The roots and plant may be sitting in very wet soil at all times. NO O2 for the roots!
=too much moisture =roots rotting =plant leaves turning black, etc...etc... I bet the roots arethe same.

You should re-pot this plant on an appropriate size pot (how big a pot was it in?). Maybe 8" or 10" pot--
depending on the size of the plant. AND--use very well draining soil Mix--like Pro Mix.
That is the kind of 'soil" most houseplants come potted in in any Nursery. Take a look.

Benny--I hope others will chime in here with their advice. Hang arounf here--you WILL get an education.
Gita

Here are a couple of my big HB of Swedish Ivies---2011 and 2013 This is what mine usually look like...

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Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Jan 3, 2017 2:29 PM CST
Gita, Great growing, your Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus) are gorgeous!! Thumbs up

Here are a couple more pretty Plectranthus with variegated foliage:
Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus forsteri 'Marginatus')
White-Edged Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus glabratus 'Marginatus')

A couple more in the Genus Plectranthus but with different common names:
Variegated Mintleaf (Plectranthus madagascariensis 'Variegated Mintleaf')
Cuban Oregano (Plectranthus parviflorus 'Variegatus')
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Benny Hill
Castle Rock, CO (Zone 5a)
Making something out of a little bi
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
bennysplace
Jan 6, 2017 9:48 AM CST
Hi there gitagal,

Thank you so much for all this information. I really appreciate it. The plant was in a very large hanging basked when I bought it and was root bound in that so thought this would be a good home to grow up in. :)

At any rate, I am comforted that your specimens look a bit like mine. I will curtail the watering and won't feed again until summer and see how it goes.

From your experience, do these plants grow a bit on the slower side for you?

I thank you so much again!

All the very best,
Benny
Name: Gita Veskimets
Baltimore or Nottingham MD-212 (Zone 7a)
Life is "mind over matter". If I d
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gitagal
Jan 6, 2017 8:26 PM CST
Benny---Thanks for your feedback.
YES! They are somewhat slow in growing. Their cuttings do root quite fast, but then you have to wait for them to "bush out" so you can have a nice, full plant. That is when it is spectacular...

I did mean to say how nice the Swedish Ivy looked in the pictures you posted. You must be doing
something right..... Thumbs up DON'T loose this plant!!! Take cuttings to propagate it
and to share with your friends. As we have noted--this plant is pretty scarce to find nowadays....

Gita

Name: Benny Hill
Castle Rock, CO (Zone 5a)
Making something out of a little bi
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
bennysplace
Jan 9, 2017 5:27 PM CST
Hi there Gita,

Thank you very kindly. I will get some cuttings going absolutely. It is a shame this plant is scarce. It is so beautiful.

All the very best to you.

Take care,
Benny
Name: Gita Veskimets
Baltimore or Nottingham MD-212 (Zone 7a)
Life is "mind over matter". If I d
Image
gitagal
Jan 9, 2017 6:53 PM CST
Benny-
Make sure each cutting you will plant has a leaf-joint that will go below the soil--
as well as a leaf joint above the soil that will grow out to be a new plant.

It will be "leggy" as the cuttings start to grow out. Just pinch out the very growing tips
to make them grow fuller.
Name: Gita Veskimets
Baltimore or Nottingham MD-212 (Zone 7a)
Life is "mind over matter". If I d
Image
gitagal
Jan 9, 2017 6:58 PM CST
Forgot to mention--that when you bring a mature Sw. Ivy inside for the winter--don't be surprised
when it starts sending out blooms from the tips of the stems.
They can get a bit messy when they shed...but it is always a surprise.
Gita
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
Bulbs Region: Canadian Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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CarolineScott
Jan 18, 2017 10:48 AM CST
I just picked up a plant which I thought was Swedish Ivy.
The label says Birdsnest Pilea.
Is this a different name or do I have a different plant?
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Jan 18, 2017 11:35 AM CST
Hard to say without seeing it. I googled birdnest Pilea & saw pics of many diff Pilea plants.
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Lilies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Winter Sowing
Bulbs Region: Canadian Garden Ideas: Master Level Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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CarolineScott
Jan 18, 2017 11:45 AM CST
After much googling I think that what I have is Pilea nummulariifolia, which looks very similar to Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus) and sometimes it is called Creeping Charlie too.
I'll post pictures later.

lynnsandberg
Jan 6, 2018 10:03 PM CST
My Charlie is outside right now. I protected from the cold nights by putting under a large bush and didn't realize until today the quail had eaten 99% of the leaves. Will the plant come back if i let alone or should i cut back most of the bare branches? I have moved the plant to a new area.
Mount Orab, Ohio, zone 6a
cnichols38
Jan 9, 2018 12:35 PM CST
I sincerely wish I had your problem, I have spent the last summer trying to kill Charlie without using pesticides and I just cant get rid of it, the only thing that seems to kill it here is to put something heavy on top of it and even then it takes weeks for it to die.

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