- Author: Deborah Light-Pacheco
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Deborah Light-Pacheco UCCE Master Gardener
Common name of plant: Creeping Charlie or Swedish Ivy
Scientific name: Plectranthus verticillatus
Planting area: Sunset 22-24: H2; or indoors
Size: 4-8 inches tall, 4-6 inches wide
Bloom Season: intermittently
Exposure: partial shade, bright indirect light
Pruning needs: as needed
Water needs: Regular
Growing up I fell in love with houseplants. There were so many varieties, and they were so festive and fresh. My favorite was, and still is, the houseplant variety of Creeping Charlie. Creeping Charlie is related to coleus and are native to tropical regions. Different varieties have different leaf colors, but he houseplant variety has roundish, waxy dark green and scalloped edged leaves that smell uniquely fresh and spicy at the same time. This perennial is a member of the mint family. And as such, the aromatic nature of the plant lends itself for use in essential oils, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial medicinals. Charlies look glamorous in hanging baskets or in decorative pots. The P. verticillatus variety produces white or pale purple blossoms intermittently all year.
A fun fact is that President Kennedy was gifted a Swedish Ivy plant from the Irish Ambassador during his term of office. An offspring of the plant still exists in the White House and can be seen in photographs above the mantel of the fireplace. Rumor has it this is the most photographed plant in the world!
Though this specific variety of Creeping Charlie is a houseplant, it can be used outside as ground cover in a warm protected area. The plant can grow from 4-8 inches high and 4-6 inches wide. Whether grown as a houseplant or outdoor ground cover, this plant is easily propagated by cuttings. The stems root easily in the ground or in water. The only soil they don't appreciate is a heavy clay. If planting within a pot, peat based potting soil is best. Water to maintain a moist, but not wet, soil. Pinch it back regularly to maintain the plant's shrubbiness. Charlies need approximately 6 hours of filtered bright sunlight per day. The two most important factors in your houseplant's health are the right amount of light and the right amount of water. Your Creeping Charlie will creep into your heart and become your favorite with the right care. Enjoy!
Advice to Grow By Workshops
Our next San Luis Obispo Advice to Grow By Workshop will be January 21st, 2024. The subject will be “Fruit trees-How Winter Care Can Aid Warm Weather Success”. More information to follow.
You can view workshops on Instagram live at slo mg or visit our You Tube channel at “San Luis Obispo County UC Master Gardeners.”
UCCE Master Gardener Helpline offices:
San Luis Obispo: 805-781-5939 (Monday and Thursday 1:00 to 5:00)
Arroyo Grande: 805-473-7190 (Wednesday 10:00 to 12:00)
Templeton: 805-434-4105 (Wednesday 9:00 to 12:00)