Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’

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Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’—container drama is its specialty

Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’ is a specialty plant with an unusually eye-catching combination of features. It delivers a lot of drama in a little package so it’s surprising that it doesn’t get used more often. We suspect the reason is simply because it’s unfamiliar, in which case we’d like to introduce you to this curious Swedish Ivy that comes to us by way of South Africa.

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All the best traits we could ask for in a Plectranthus

During the 1990s the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town put a great deal of effort into developing just the right Plectranthus, and ‘Mona Lavender’ is the result. It reflects all the desirable characteristics within the genome: attractive foliage, abundant flower spikes, and a nice bushy habit. It’s also heat and drought tolerant. While Swedish Ivy is often thought of as a houseplant, we find that this variety is stunning in containers and window boxes.

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A Swedish Ivy that’s non-traditional in its free flowering ways

Most cultivars in this genus are not known for their flowering but ‘Mona Lavender’ is just the opposite—a dense crown of blooms tops this short bushy plant. Flowers are light lavender and are sent up in sprays, with dozens of shoots that open simultaneously. You might find that the blooms resemble tiny Salvia spikes but there are many, many more of them and they stick around for a long time. We know of cases where the flowers were still going strong in October as long as the night temperatures stayed above 50°F.

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Lovely, lush leaves have deep purple undersides

Typically Plectranthus selections are grown for their foliage and ‘Mona Lavender’ is right on point with especially lovely leaves. They’re dark and glossy, forming a nest that surrounds the base of the flower stalks. Undersides are deep wine to almost purple in color, so even when the plant is not in bloom it still puts on a show.

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A power bloomer in spring and fall—with year round foliage interest

‘Mona Lavender’ is the variety to use in your container and planter arrangements because of its reputation as a power bloomer in spring and fall. These are the seasons when its best flowering occurs because the plant is triggered by the short day lengths. In the summer the blooms may taper off but that’s ok—as we mentioned, the plant itself continues to add interest.

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Plants fare best with shade for some part of the day

Finding reliable specimens for planters in the high heat can be tough. ‘Mona Lavender’ has great heat and drought tolerance, although it will scorch under all day summer sun. Steer clear of plazas that expose their gardens to wicked amounts of sun unless there’s some shade from a nearby building. Partial sun seems to be the way to go with this variety—it needs shade at some point in the day.

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Flower and foliage color can vary depending on the amount of sun

On the other hand, the reverse is true: ‘Mona Lavender’ will survive in heavy shade but you won’t get much of a bloom. We also find that the color of the flowers can vary a bit; the lavender gets darker with more sun and lighter with shade. This is true of the leaves as well—they’re more wine-colored in shade and purple in sun.

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Shrubby, vigorous, and upright—with a bushy look

‘Mona Lavender’ is a beautiful selection for window boxes, planters, and containers—anywhere that the soil is well prepared. Plants grow about 12–18 inches high with a spread a little bit wider than that. This unique Plectranthus has a shrubby, vigorous, upright habit with a bushy quality to it. A haircut from time to time encourages lots of side branches, if you want an even bushier look.

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Fill window boxes and planters with beautiful ‘Mona Lavender’

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