Learning about Plectranthus


One of the more interesting and unexpected Christmas presents I received last year was a little silver pot with a leafy sprig of what my neighbor told me was Zulu Wonder. Intriguing! She said it would have flowers later. So I watched over it throughout the winter, leaving it on the porch thinking that would suffice, and it did. And then surprisingly it started getting quite leafy and broad in spring and it was obvious I needed to transplant. By then I’d googled and learned its proper name was Plectranthus ciliatus, part of the extended mint family. It’s also known as blue spur flower and Swedish ivy. I was promised a plant that would expand to 2′-3′ wide and 12″-18″ high. I also learned the Plectranthus has needs that are similar to clematis–shady, some sun, not too hot. So I opted to place it in a tall burgundy pot that was needing something new, next to my two clematis plants in pots, that get morning sun and shade the balance of the day. I’m very glad I did, as it kept growing and growing way beyond my expectations. I must forewarn, however, that on the hottest mornings I would go out and the poor Plectranthus would essentially be saying, ow, ow, ow, with its leaves contracted, not unlike an unhappy hydrangea which missed its daily watering. You know, right? Yeah, that. But it bounced back quickly with water and shade, so I left it where I’d planned.
I kept watching for the promised blooms and at last near summer’s end I saw what would undoubtedly be some kind of blossom. Here’s what unfolded!


And don’t you love it when a plant you put in makes friends with an adjacent already placed plant or statuary? I find my Zulu Wonder so pretty!


Now, a word on reproduction. My neighbor said, “Oh, you just do a leaf cutting! Put it in water. That’s what I did!” And I’ve just begun to try that. However, and this remains a mystery to me, which I love, but if someone more savvy might venture a guess, please explain to me how this happened. For a sprig of Plectranthus is now growing in my strawberry pot. Granted, when it was still in the silver pot, they might have been cavorting, but, still…


Love and fall blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News: Latest great things are that a story from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy was excerpted in Western North Carolina Woman in their fall issue!
Also I’m delighted that Barnes and Noble has restocked copies in stores around the country! Yay! Thank you for purchasing copies. It means so much to know my stories and lessons are being well received and shared with new readers! xoxo

18 Responses to “Learning about Plectranthus”

  1. Very pretty! What a great find, mom! Love that last pic especially. Very special. Love you, ~Antonia Xo

  2. Thanks, Antonia! I am so enjoying it! Such a lovely color. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how readily it will root in water! I’ll save a bit for you! Love, Mom xoxo

  3. Kathryn, I love seeing your posts, because it takes me to your blog where I feel surrounded by nature. It’s like visiting a garden … your garden! And today I get to reflect on how wonderful it is to receive a gift with extra benefits … the surprise you experienced of these lovely flowers! It’s also fun to hear that it’s easy to grow. I’ll turn back now to my basil growing on my patio … we have the kind of gardens we can … that’s mine for the moment. Thanks for sharing yours. Best wishes, Marilyn McLeod

  4. Awww, thanks, Marilyn McLeod! It’s nice to see you here! If you have a shady spot on your patio, Marilyn, you could grow Zulu Wonder! It’s a beautiful foliage and then you have those flowers to look forward to! Kathryn xoxo

  5. Always love connecting with growing things with YOU.
    Thanks for always being so positive and creative.

    I think I can all but write off 2015 as the year of endurance., courage and optimism.

    However i am very slowly getting back to normal walking.
    Can’t wait to say farewell to walker and cane.!!
    You are always so positive and inspiring Thanks, BP

    I have certainly learned humility . Love, betsy

  6. Betsy, so wonderful to see you visiting this morning! Thank you so much for your kind words! You have long been an inspiration to me, dear. Sending you love and best wishes. Kathryn xoxo

  7. My husband gave me a Swedish ivy as a hanging plant for my office long ago. This is a nice reminder. It is a hardy plant requiring little.

  8. Alice, thank you for that bit of information! Happy to know it can live inside. It had not occurred to me to have it be a houseplant, but that would be a nice addition! Lovely you still have that gift. Thank you for sharing. Kathryn xoxo

  9. Zulu Wonder is so pretty. It reminds me of lavender!

  10. Hi, Angie, and welcome! It’s true that Zulu Wonder has those same beautiful lavender hues that are so lovely in the garden. Thank you for your visit! Kathryn xoxo

  11. Your photos are beautiful.

    Since Plectranthus is a warm weather plant, which zones would it be near impossible to grow it in?

    I am in zone 7a, New Jersey, and we can grow just about anything .. with the exception of the obvious citrus trees and so on, so I am not worried about us being able to grow Plectranthus, more curious for zones north of me.

  12. Hi, Mike and welcome. I don’t know which zones are suitable for plectranthus, BUT, a gardening blogger back East just wrote about how much she was enjoying plectranthus inside, and you might note Alice Quintin left a comment above that her husband gave her one for her office, which she still has years later. So you have a lovely option of growing inside in NJ! Kathryn xoxo

  13. The color of those flowers are very attractive. It’s a great addition to a garden. Is it hard to maintain and take care of those flowers?

  14. Hi, RD and welcome! I think this plant is super easy to care for and to grow. However it cannot survive cold temps in winter. It would need to go inside. If you read the comments you’ll see there are folks on the East Coast growing this plant indoors, quite successfully.

  15. Kathryn, Thank you for the wonderful story about wreaths! So creative and beautiful! Thank you for the many, many ways you’ve brought joy and beauty to 2015. I look forward to 2016 with you!!! Best wishes, Marilyn

  16. Thank you, Marilyn! Kathryn xoxo

  17. It looks very beautiful! The flowers looks a little like lilacs, but not entirely. It’s great that you were able to save it in the end. And yes, you should do some leaf cutting at some point, because otherwise it will just start growing in all sides and without a shape. Very inspiring story, thank you for sharing it!

  18. Thanks, Fantastic Tree Services in Sydney, for the visit and welcome! I appreciate your input! And I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Kathryn xoox

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