GROWING PLECTRANTHUS

10 deg C/50 deg F

This is a large genus of shrubby plants and perennials related to coleus. The best known is P. oertendahlii, which although popularly called Brazilian coleus is from South Africa. It is a low-growing rambling plant suitable for hanging containers, wall pots or baskets.

The leaves are very attractive. They are almost circular in shape, bronzy-green in colour, and with the veins boldly marked silvery-white. From June to October, erect bunches of tubular. purplish-white flowers are freely produced. In greenhouses, this is a useful plant for growing under the staging and for ground cover, as it likes subdued light.

The. candle plant, from India, has a bushy habit, and as a houseplant will reach 30cm (1ft) in height. It is usually grown in the form P. c. ‘Marginatum’, which has roundish leaves, slightly triangular, and with irregular edges. The main colour is green and there is a wide border of cream, often with a greyish sheen. The flowers are white or purplish.

These species seem to prefer a loam-based compost, such as John Innes potting compost No. 2. They prefer shade in summer, although they should be given a place in good light in winter. They can be watered freely from spring to autumn, but sparingly during winter months. P. oertendaldii is the easier and

hardier of the two. and will endure temperatures down to 4 deg C (39 deg F) for short periods if kept dry. When grown in pots, the stems often send roots into the compost. When repotting in spring. these rooted sections can be cut off and potted individually to provide further plants. Pests and diseases are rarely troublesome.

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