Is Swedish Ivy Toxic to Cats - Is It Safe to Grow

Written by Ivy

Jan 28 2023

Is Swedish Ivy Toxic to Cats - Is It Safe to Grow

Swedish ivy is a lovely, green, cascading plant with small, bluish-purple flowers and lovely, round, softly serrated leaves. It's an excellent house plant because it's non-toxic to animals and simple to maintain.

Quick Care Guide: Swedish Ivy

Plant type Evergreen perennial
Origin Sweden
Scientific name Plectranthus verticillatus
Other names Swedish ivy, Swedish begonia or whorled plectranthus
Soil type Fertile, loamy, well-draining, potting mix
Soil pH 5.5-6.5 (acidic)
Sunlight requirement Full sun, indirect
Bloom season Summer
Colors White, green, purple
Max height 10 inches
Max width 3 feet
Low temperature tolerance 50F
High temperature tolerance 80F
Ideal temperature range 70-75F
Humidity High (60% or higher)
Watering requirements 1" per week, but adjust as necessary for weather
Fertilizer requirements Minimal, liquid fertilizer during spring and summer as needed
Plant food NPK 1-1-1 or 5-5-5
Days until germination 2-3 weeks from seed
Days until harvest Does not fruit
Bloom time May to July
Speed of growth Slow
Hardiness zones 10, 11
Plant depth 0.25" from seed, same depth of root ball in original container if transplanting
Plant spacing 24 inches
Plant with Calathea, Bird's Nest Fern, Orchid
Don't plant with Plants that need sunlight directly
Propagation method Seeds, cuttings
Common pests Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs
Common diseases Root rot, leaf spot, downy mildew, damping-off, and blight
Indoor plant Yes
Outdoor plant Yes
Grown in container Yes
Flowering plant Yes
Beginner friendly Yes
Care level Easy (requires very little care)
Best uses Hanging plant, centerpiece, indoor decor, patios, gardens, fireplaces, mantles, fireplaces

What is Swedish Ivy?


Though Plectranthus verticillatus is the most common species that you will see grown in the Other species and hybrids may also be referred to as Swedish Ivies in the US when grown as a houseplant.

In the section below titled "Species and Cultivars to Select," you can find a list of suggested varieties that have similar care requirements.

P. verticillatus is an evergreen perennial in the mint family, Lamiaceae, with a lovely, drooping growth habit that makes it ideal for hanging baskets.

Its leaves are tiny, usually measuring between one and one and a half inches across. These have a broad, ovate shape, are glossy green, have serrated edges, and have a strong scent when touched.

There are other closely related species that are also known as Swedish ivy and have purple or green leaves with white margins.

You might see this plant labeled P. australis, but according to the experts at the Royal Horticultural Society, this is a misapplied synonym.

The genus name, Plectranthus, comes from the Greek word "plectron," which means "spur," and "anthos," meaning "flower."

Though numerous sources describe the flowers as having a spur-like shape overall, this name refers to a spur that is frequently present at the base of the flowers.

Swedish ivy is a non-toxic, pet-safe plant that grows two to three feet tall and wide. If you move it outside for the summer, you'll get eight-inch spikes of pretty, pale purple flowers in the fall.

Despite the fact that it's typically grown as a houseplant in the United States, USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11 allow it to remain outside all year round, according to Missouri Botanical Garden specialists.

Swedish ivy is a gross misnomer for the plant's common name. Southern Africa, from Mozambique through South Africa, is where the plant originally originated, not Sweden.

Some gardeners think that P. verticillatus was given this seemingly confusing common name because it first became popular as a houseplant in Sweden.

Some claim Swedish ivy has been grown in Sweden for over 100 years and has been known by this name for nearly as long. This plant may have been introduced there by members of the Hermannsburg Missionary Society or a Swedish surveyor working in Uvongo, a seaside resort in South Africa. Others claim Swedish ivy has been grown in Sweden for over 100 years and has been known by this name for nearly as long.

Swedish ivy isn't a true ivy or a member of the Araliaceae family of ivy plants, and it doesn't adhere to surfaces as it grows in addition to having no Scandinavian roots.


To avoid confusion with Glechoma hederacea, also known as ground ivy, some gardeners also call these plants creeping Charlie.

It can grow outdoors year-round in Zones 10 and 11, and it has spread naturally to places like Australia, Central and South America, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii as a plant that does well in warm climates.

As long as it receives bright, indirect sunlight for the majority of the day, it thrives indoors in all zones.

This indoor plant prefers temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the spring and summer months, according to Dr. Leonard Perry, emeritus professor of horticulture at the University of Vermont.

Indoor temperatures between 60 and 65°F are adequate for the remainder of the year. It's crucial, claims Dr. To prevent Perry's warmth-loving plant from dying, keep the indoor temperature from dropping below 50°F.

Additional Tips

Although you can easily keep Swedish Ivy plants in containers, hanging baskets are generally where they grow best. Your plant only needs to be replanted once a year because this is when the soil will run out. Another justification for repotting is if your Swedish Ivy begins to wilt and lose its vigor.

You can propagate your Swedish Ivy houseplant relatively easily. With tip cuttings, it can be done most successfully. These cuttings can be taken in the summer, once the plant has finished blooming. When the flowers have finished blooming, simply clip back the stem ends and plant them in the wet potting soil. New Swedish Ivy plants will grow as a result. Another method of propagation is through division. Cuttings are the preferred method for home gardeners because they make it much simpler to propagate Swedish Ivy.


Despite the fact that Swedish Ivy is typically a healthy plant free of serious pests and diseases, it is prone to some problems. Mealybugs, the most frequent pests found attaching to Swedish Ivy, are first and foremost those. On the stems and leaves of your plant, they appear as a white substance that you can identify. If you notice this problem, make sure to remove mealybugs with a cotton swab. You can use an organic insecticide on your Swedish Ivy houseplant. Another pest attacking Swedish Ivy are spider mites. You will recognize their presence if the plant develops pale leaves and webby material on the underside of the leaves. Once more, it is crucial to act quickly and eliminate these pests before the infestation becomes difficult to treat.


Even for novice plant enthusiasts, a Swedish ivy makes a wonderful houseplant and grows quickly. It looks best when displayed in a hanging basket so that viewers can enjoy its long vines, which can grow to be 2-3 feet long and covered in vibrant tubular flowers. This plant is non-toxic and okay to have around kids, dogs, cats, and other animals.