Plectranthus australis 'Variegatus'
Common Name: Cuban oregano
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Lamiaceae
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: White to pale purple
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Ground Cover
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 10-11 where it is easily grown in humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade. Best performance occurs in light shade or sun dappled areas, with regular and even moisture. In full sun, plants tend to remain compact. Avoid poorly drained clay soils. Plants are intolerant of frost. Trim off new stem tips regularly to retain compact shape and to encourage branching. Remove flower spikes after bloom. In St. Louis, this plant may be grown in containers as a houseplant in bright, mostly sunny exposures. Containers may be taken outside in summer but must be overwintered indoors. This plant is also commonly grown as an annual where it can be incorporated into mixed containers and hanging baskets. It is a low-maintenance plant that is easily propagated by cuttings, and is often shared with other gardeners by cuttings.

‘Variegatus’ sometimes reverts to solid green leaves, so it is best to promptly remove stems with unvariegated leaves.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Plectranthus australis, commonly called Swedish ivy is a fast-growing, evergreen perennial that is native to South Africa. It typically grows to 2-3’ tall on erect stems that trail and spread as they mature. Stems are clad with broad-ovate, glossy green leaves (to 1.5” long) with crenate margins. White to pale purple flowers bloom in racemes (to 8” long) on and off throughout the year. Some nomenclature and common name confusion surrounds the plant commonly referred to in commerce as Swedish ivy. It should be noted that The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) lists Plectranthus australis as a misapplied synonym of Plectranthus verticillatus.

Genus name comes from the Greek words plectron meaning spur and anthos meaning flower in reference to the spur-shaped flowers of some members of the genus.

Specific epithet means Southern.

‘Variegatus’ is a cultivar with glossy green leaves variegated with white.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for mealybugs and spider mites. Leaf spots and root rot may occur.

Garden Uses

Borders where winter hardy. Containers or hanging baskets for decks or patios. Houseplant.