Forest Spurflower Plectranthus fruticosus 'James'

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
forest spurflower 'James'


Plectranthus fruticosus 'James', often referred to as the forest spurflower, is an attractive ornamental plant that presents a lush and vibrant appearance. Its foliage is one of its most striking features, with leaves that are usually soft to the touch and generously sized, exhibiting a lush green color with a somewhat velvety texture. These leaves may display subtle serrations along their edges, creating a delicately jagged perimeter. The forest spurflower is also known for its visually appealing floral displays. Clusters of small flowers, borne on spikes, emerge above the foliage, adding a splash of color to the green backdrop of the leaves. These flowers are typically a soft shade of purple or violet, though there can be variations ranging from bluish to pinkish tones. The blooms are tubular and may have a lighter or sometimes whitish throat, with a pleasing contrast against the deeper petal colors. This plant tends to have a growth habit that is both upright and slightly spreading, allowing it to create a rounded and bushy silhouette. Its stems are somewhat fleshy, and they contribute to the overall lush look of the plant by filling in space between the leaves. The forest spurflower has a tendency to be quite leafy, which can give it a dense and hearty appearance, making it a popular choice for gardeners looking to add texture and volume to their planting schemes. The overall visual effect of Plectranthus fruticosus 'James' is one of relaxed abundance, characterized by its richly colored leaves and blooms, which can lend a tropical feel to gardens or indoor spaces. Despite its showy nature, the plant projects a sense of softness and comfort, due in part to the velvety texture of its foliage and the gentle cascade of its flowering spikes. It's a plant that combines visual impact with an easygoing grace, making it a favored addition to many plant collections.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Forest Spurflower, Blue Plectranthus, Blue Spur Flower, James Plectranthus

    • Common names

      Plectranthus fruticosus, Coleus fruticosus.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Plectranthus fruticosus 'James', commonly known as Swedish Ivy, is generally not considered toxic to humans. However, some people may have skin sensitivities or allergic reactions if they come into contact with the sap of the plant. Ingesting parts of the plant is not usually harmful, but it may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea or vomiting, in some individuals. It is always best to exercise caution and keep plants out of reach of small children who may inadvertently ingest plant material.

    • To pets

      Swedish Ivy is not considered highly toxic to pets, such as cats and dogs. If a pet ingests a small amount of the plant, it may experience mild gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting or diarrhea. As with humans, it is wise to monitor pets around houseplants and discourage them from chewing on plant material. Severe reactions are unlikely, but if your pet consumes a large amount of the plant or exhibits concerning symptoms, it is advisable to contact your veterinarian.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2 feet (0.61 meters)

    • Spread

      2 feet (0.61 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      South Africa


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Appeal: Plectranthus fruticosus 'James', commonly known as the Forest Spurflower, has attractive foliage and flowers that enhance garden aesthetics.
    • Easy to Grow: This plant is known for its hardiness and ease of cultivation, making it suitable for gardeners of all skill levels.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, it is relatively drought-tolerant, requiring less frequent watering compared to other plants.
    • Shade Tolerance: The Forest Spurflower can grow in shaded areas where other plants might struggle, increasing its versatility in garden design.
    • Fast Growth: It exhibits a fast growth rate, allowing for quick filling of garden spaces and landscape features.
    • Pest Resistance: The plant is resistant to many common pests, minimizing the need for chemical treatments.
    • Heat Tolerance: It can withstand high temperatures, making it suitable for warm climates and hot summers.
    • Soil Adaptability: This species is adaptable to a variety of soil types, although it prefers well-drained soil.
    • Attracts Beneficial Insects: The flowers can attract pollinators and beneficial insects, promoting biodiversity in the garden.
    • Container Gardening: It can be successfully grown in containers, offering flexibility for those with limited garden space.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Anti-inflammatory: Plectranthus fruticosus 'James' may possess compounds that help reduce inflammation, although scientific evidence is limited.
    • Antimicrobial: Some studies have suggested that the plant has antimicrobial properties, potentially effective against certain bacteria and fungi.
    • Analgesic: It may have pain-relieving effects, again with limited scientific backing.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Plectranthus, also known as the Swedish ivy, can be used in companion planting to help repel certain pests due to its aromatic nature when its leaves are crushed.
    • The Swedish ivy can be grown as a living curtain or room divider by training its vines over a support structure, thereby adding a touch of greenery to indoor spaces.
    • It can be utilized in aroma gardens for its subtly pleasant and minty fragrance, contributing to a multisensory garden experience.
    • Swedish ivy leaves can be used in potpourri mixtures for natural, homemade scents within the household.
    • In cooler climates, Swedish ivy can serve as a seasonal groundcover outdoors thanks to its fast growth and spreading habits during warmer months.
    • As a cascading plant, Swedish ivy can be used to create dramatic hanging basket displays, providing greenery at different vertical levels.
    • Due to its hardy nature, Swedish ivy can be used in educational settings as a plant for students to learn about propagation and horticulture.
    • The plant can be used as a natural dye source for fabrics and crafts, with its leaves imparting subtle hues and patterns.
    • Swedish ivy's dense foliage can provide a micro-habitat for small beneficial insects, integrating natural pest control within the environment.
    • When used in container gardening, Swedish ivy's trailing habit makes it a valuable 'spiller' plant, aesthetically softening edges of pots and planters.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The plant Swedish Ivy is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Swedish Ivy is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Prosperity: Plectranthus fruticosus, commonly known as Swedish Ivy, is often associated with prosperity in some cultures, as it is believed that the plant's vigorous growth echoes the growth of wealth.
    • Comfort and Serenity: Swedish Ivy has a lush, green foliage that often brings a sense of comfort and calmness to a home, symbolizing peaceful environments and the cultivation of serene spaces.
    • Growth and Fertility: The plant's robust nature and easy propagation can symbolize personal or professional growth, as well as fertility, representing an ability to thrive under care and attention.
    • Adaptability: Swedish Ivy is known for its adaptability to different growing conditions, signifying flexibility and the ability to withstand various life challenges.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every year
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Swedish Ivy should be watered thoroughly, but the frequency depends on the environmental conditions; as a general rule, allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. Water the plant once a week, ensuring that you provide enough water to soak the soil through to the root level but avoid waterlogging. During the active growing season, in spring and summer, you may need to water more frequently, especially if the plant is in a warmer environment. Reduce watering in the fall and winter when the plant's growth slows down. Always check the top layer of the soil for dryness before adding more water to avoid overwatering.

  • sunLight

    Swedish Ivy thrives best under bright indirect light; direct sunlight should be avoided as it can scorch the leaves of the plant. An east or north-facing window is often ideal, providing plenty of light without the harsh direct sun of the afternoon. If natural light is limited, supplemental light, such as grow lights, can be used to provide the necessary illumination for healthy growth.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Swedish Ivy prefers temperatures between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth and can survive minimum temperatures down to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep it away from drafts and sudden temperature changes, which can cause stress to the plant. The plant will not tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for prolonged periods, and hot temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit may also cause damage or slow its growth.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Swedish Ivy is necessary to maintain its shape, encourage bushier growth, and remove any leggy or dead stems. Trim the plant as needed throughout the year, but the best time for a major pruning is in the early spring before new growth begins. Regularly pinching back the growing tips can also promote a fuller plant. Pruning is typically done every few months or when the plant appears to be getting too long or unruly.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Plectranthus, commonly known as Swedish Ivy, thrives in a well-draining potting mix with peat moss and perlite or sand. The best soil pH for Swedish Ivy is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0.

  • plantRepotting

    Swedish Ivy should be repotted every 1-2 years to refresh the soil and accommodate growth. Choose a pot that's one size larger than the current one.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Swedish Ivy prefers moderate to high humidity levels, achieving best growth with humidity around 40-50%.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Swedish Ivy in bright, indirect light and water when topsoil is dry.

    • Outdoor

      Grow Swedish Ivy in shade to partial sun and shelter from strong winds.

    • Hardiness zone

      10-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Plectranthus fruticosus 'James', commonly known as Forest Spurflower, begins its life cycle as a seed that requires a warm and moist environment to germinate. Seedlings emerge and grow rapidly, developing into young plants with characteristic square stems and rounded, aromatic leaves. As the plant matures, it enters a vegetative state where it continues to grow in size and foliage density. Following vegetative growth, the Forest Spurflower reaches its reproductive stage, producing inflorescences of tubular purple or bluish flowers that attract pollinators and subsequently develop into small, inconspicuous, non-fleshy fruits containing seeds. After setting seed, some portions of the plant may die back, especially if exposed to cooler temperatures, but this species can also exhibit perennial behavior in warmer climates with growth resuming from surviving stems or root systems. Lastly, if environmental conditions are favorable, the seeds from the previous generation will germinate and initiate a new life cycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Plectranthus fruticosus 'James', commonly known as the Forest Spurflower, is typically propagated through stem cuttings. This method is most successful when carried out in late spring or early summer, which coincides with the plant's active growth phase. To propagate using stem cuttings, one should select a healthy, non-flowering shoot and cut a 4 to 6 inch (approximately 10 to 15 cm) section. The cut end of the shoot should be dipped in rooting hormone to encourage root growth. It's then placed in a well-draining soil mix, ensuring at least two sets of leaves are above the soil surface. The cutting should be kept moist and in a warm environment with indirect sunlight. Roots typically develop within a few weeks, after which the new plant can be gradually acclimated to normal conditions.