Dog or cat droppings in the carefully tended green area – a nuisance for many garden owners. A certain genus of the harp bush (Plactranthus caninus), which is also known as the “piss off plant” can provide a remedy here; the essential oils of the plant ensure that cats and dogs are reluctant to enter the garden. The harp shrub presents itself both as a herbaceous plant and as a slightly woody subshrub. The pretty, mostly lavender-colored blooms stand out particularly well among other flowers; but the plant can also be kept indoors. In addition to the Verpiss dich plant, numerous other species of the harp bush are known that form violet-edged, heart-shaped or colorful leaves.

location and soil conditions

The harp bush feels particularly comfortable in a bright location. Partially shaded or sunny spots in the garden are best for cultivation; Basically, you should make sure that the plant enjoys direct sunlight for several hours a day. Inadequate light conditions will cause the pretty leaves to fade. In addition, the distances between the individual leaves increase, so that the plant quickly appears ill. Temperatures between 16 and 21°C are also optimal, which enable ideal growth and promote flowering. If the temperatures rise, the humidity in the immediate vicinity of the harp bush should also be increased. For this purpose, the plant is placed in sub-shells filled with stones and water.

So that the harp bush can thrive well, the choice of substrate is also important:

  • The earth must not be too solid; a loose, porous soil is just right.
  • The plant thrives particularly well in nutrient-rich soil.
  • The substrate should also be well drained and not too moist overall.
  • The best soil for cultivating the harp shrub is therefore soil based on leaf soil or compost.

Watering, fertilizing and overwintering

The harp bush needs to be well watered, especially during the growth phase. It is important to ensure that the root ball is always well moistened. However, the plant does not tolerate waterlogging. If the harp bush is cultivated in a pot or tub, care must always be taken to ensure that no standing water remains in the saucer. Species with hanging or low-lying shoots are particularly moisture-loving. So overall, the plant is kept moist but not wet. On the other hand, the harp shrub can survive short periods of drought unscathed; It is only important that the root ball does not dry out completely. During the rest phase, restraint is required when watering; here just enough water is poured to prevent the root ball from drying out.

Targeted fertilization should also be carried out for the development of the harbor shrub:

  • During the growing season, the plant must be fertilized every 14 days.
  • Complete fertilizers in a normal concentration are suitable as fertilizers; liquid fertilizers can also be used.
  • Complete fertilizer is distributed around the plant and then lightly worked into the soil around the crop.
  • Liquid fertilizers are best for cultivation in tubs.
  • During the rest phase, the fertilization is completely stopped.

The harp bush is not hardy. However, overwintering the plant is not a problem. In order for the plant to feel comfortable during the winter months, it is necessary to keep it in appropriate buckets. The shrub overwinters best in a cool, dry room with temperatures between 10 and 15°C. During the winter, the plant is neither fertilized nor watered. However, care should be taken that the room is not too dark; the harp bush then tends to wilt.

pests and diseases

The harp shrub is a very robust plant that rarely gets sick or is attacked by pests. However, especially during the summer months, both free-living plants and houseplants can be infested with aphidsa problem. In this case, it has proven useful to hose down the growth with a hose. Indoor plants can also be placed under the water spray in the shower. Thorough rinsing is important to really remove the pests completely. Another way to specifically combat the aphids is to use special pesticides or soap solutions. A particularly gentle and natural form of pest control consists in the targeted use of predators; Ladybugs have proven themselves well for this.

Older plants become unsightly over time; stocks should therefore be checked again and again and, if necessary, replaced with fresh goods. This is usually the case every two years.

Piss off plant thrives with moderate care

The harp bush requires little care. Once the plant has been planted in the ground, it will develop on its own with regular fertilization and optimal watering. If you want to do something good for the plant, spray the leaves with a little water on particularly hot summer days; the early morning hours or late evening are best for this. If it is a container plant, an annual repot has proven itself. The weeks in spring are particularly suitable for this. If necessary, the harp bush can also be cut. In particular, if the front foothills have become too long, you can edit the plant with a targeted cut.

Harp shrub and propagation

Older specimens of the harp bush should be replaced regularly with new plants, as the plant loses its appearance over the years. It is therefore worth growing new cuttings every two to three years. The button cuttings of the harp bush, which are an average of 6 cm long, can be cut all year round, using the shoot tips of older plants. However, the autumn months are best for harvesting. Propagation and cultivation of the cuttings are very simple:

  • First, remove the lower pairs of leaves from the cuttings
  • Then plant in the ground in the garden or in a flower pot or planter
  • Until the cuttings have rooted, the plant should be in a bright, not too sunny place
  • Water the seedling vigorously after planting
  • for planting in a hanging basket you have to place about three already rooted cuttings next to each other in the appropriate container
Tip: The cuttings of the harp bush root best during the summer months or in spring.

The plant is usually planted in the garden to keep cats or dogs away from beds. So that the harp bush can develop its full effect, the cuttings should be placed about one meter around the affected green areas or beds. Ideally, these are half-shady or sunny locations at the same time, where the general plant growth and flowering can develop optimally. As an alternative to planting in the garden soil, you can also plant the cuttings in flower pots. If you then set them up around the areas to be protected, the plants of the harp bush achieve the same effect. The pot should be at least 20 cm in diameter so that the harp bush can develop well.

Naming of the Plactranthus species

The genus of the harp bush is extremely diverse and includes a total of around 150 species. A large part of this is located in Asia and Africa. In addition to the hybrid form of Plactranthus caninus, there are other harp shrub species that also exude a characteristic scent, for example P. Glabratus or P. Forsteri, whose hybrids are also called “moth herb” or “incense” because they repel moths or have a similar scent to exude incense. Because of their strong aroma, numerous species are also used as a spice plant; for example, P. Amboincus is known as Mexican oregano. The Verpiss dich plant got its name from the gardener Dieter Stegmeier, who brought the hybrid onto the market in 2001. He successfully sold the plant as an “anti-dog plant”,


The hybrid of Plactranthus caninus is also called “piss off plant”; this is due to the effect of the plant on numerous animals, such as cats, dogs or martens, who do not like the smell of the plant. Special substances in the leaves contribute to the effect of:

  • The plant contains, among other things, menthol, which disturbs the delicate noses of cats and dogs.
  • This strong-smelling essential oil is secreted by the plant through the nettles.
  • The odor nuisance is so strong for most animals that they keep a few meters away.
  • Even if the scents disturb sensitive animal noses – the plant is not poisonous and can therefore be used without hesitation.
Note: Even if the plant emits an unpleasant smell for animals – humans can hardly perceive the aromatic substances.

While the piss off plant has been a resounding success with gardeners time and time again, the plant doesn’t seem to have any effect on other gardeners. The opposite then seems to be the case: cats in particular roll around in the bushes before nibbling on them or even eating them completely bare. Various reasons can be responsible for this. First, one must plant a sufficient amount of shrubs in order to have an effect. The plants should be placed around the beds or green areas to be protected, with the distance between the individual specimens not being greater than one meter. It must also be considered that the piss off plant is only effective from a certain size. The growth of nettles is also important here, which should be fully completed as the fragrances are released via the leaf nettles. But the effect of the shrub can also depend on the current weather.

The plant presents itself as quite undemanding and easy to care for; after successful cultivation, the Piss you plant requires little attention – and if it is replaced regularly with new specimens, it looks very decorative around the beds.

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