Plectranthus prostratus: Pillow plant

Family: Lamiaceae
Common name: Pillow plant, Succulent Swedish ivy, Tangled hearts

If you are looking for the ideal plant to grow in hanging pots and baskets, look no further than the Pillow plant. These lovely plants only grow to a height of 10-20 cms from the ground but can form dense mats of small, oval, succulent, light green leaves.

The leaves are very beautiful with toothed margins and are almost heart-shaped, leading to the name Tangled hearts. Pillow plant leaves are glossy and can store large quantities of water, helping the plant survive without water for long periods of time.

The stem is long, thin, trailing, succulent, and purple-green in color. When placed in hanging pots or baskets, they form dense strands of hanging stems that adorn your balconies and gardens. The way these strands fall over the edges of the planters symmetrically in all directions, make them exceptionally beautiful.

Sometimes stem nodes produce small bunches which look like baby plants. Each of them can be replanted to produce new plants every effectively.

Pillow plants also produce small purple flowers in large clusters, but they are not very conspicuous. Leaf edges turn purple when placed in harsh sunlight, but the plant is capable of surviving extreme shade and bright sunlight.

The stem can root at the nodes where they touch the soil so that even small fallen pieces of the plant can produce baby plants. Though a native of Africa, Pillow plants are grown as ornamental plants in tropical countries all over the world. They are not very tolerant of frost and cold weather.

These plants are capable of becoming invasive weeds because of their capability to reproduce vegetatively, but they can be removed by hand-plucking and ensuring that all pieces of the stem are removed completely.

Pillow plants can be grown indoors in semi-shade and do well as green matted covering at the base of bonsai plants. They prefer rich, well-drained soil and will root very fast in the right conditions. Occasional fertilization and repotting can give you the best-looking Pillow plants.

Propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings. Seeds take about 3 weeks to germinate, but stem cuttings will take root much faster, thus making them the preferred method of propagation.