Plectranthus scutellarioides (L.) R.Br. is currently the correct and accepted scientific name for Coleus. It was described as such by Robert Brown in Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae in 1810. It was first named and described Ocimum scutellarioides by Carl Linnaeus in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1763.
The genus, Plectranthus L’Hér., was named and described by Charles Louis L’Héritier de Brutelle in Stirpes Novae aut Minus Cognitae in 1788.
One of the most widely used scientific names, Solenostemon scutellarioides (L.) Codd, is considered a synonym but is still widely used in commerce. This name was described by Leslie Edward Wastell Codd in Bothalia in 1975.
This plant has had several genus names including Coleus scutellarioides (L.) Benthe.. It was described as such by George Bentham in Edward’s Botanical Register in 1830.
This guide in Dave’s Garden, “Plectranthus”, written by Marie Harrison in 2011, has some very interesting information.
My love for Coleus goes way back to when I was in kindergarten and my teacher gave all the kids in her class a Coleus plant in a cup.
Over the years I have grown MANY different cultivars and they are among my favorite annuals. They come in so many different types, colors, sizes, leaf shapes… One could never possibly grow them all and new cultivars become available every year.
Coleus are very easy to grow and propagate. I find they do best in part to light shade alto many newer cultivars do well in full sun. I haven’t had the courage to put any of mine in full sun.
FAMILY: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
ORIGIN: Tropical and subtropical areas in Asia and Malaysia.
HARDINESS ZONES: USDA 10-11
SIZE: Depending on cultivar and type, can grow from 6” to 36” PLUS tall x 6” to 36” PLUS wide.
LIGHT: Light to full shade. There are cultivars viable that tolerate full sun.
SOIL: They do best in a fertile, loose, well-drained soil with organic matter.
WATER: They seem to prefer their soil to be moist and not dry out. On occasion, mine have dried out to the point the plants are drooping. Once I water them, they perk back up with no problem.
FLOWERS: Most Coleus flowers are insignificant and should be pinched off. The plants bushier when the buds are removed and seem to do better. The flowers do, however, attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
USES: Beds, borders, containers, mass plantings, mixed containers, houseplants, etc…
PROPAGATION: Stem cuttings can be taken pretty much anytime and can root in water and damp soil.
Normally I buy new pants every year, but when I lived in Mississippi I did take cuttings and overwinter them in the sunrooms. I have dug entire plants and put them in pots for overwintering but found that sometimes didn’t work very well. Coleus tends to develop what is called “blackleg” and then they die. I have found it best to take cuttings late in the season (depending on where you live) and then overwinter the cuttings. You can keep them in water, but if you do this, you should then take a cutting of that plant and start again. They seem to have difficulty adapting from water to soil sometimes.
On the pages connected with this page, you will see all the cultivars I have grown since 2009. Some were given to me by other people and some I didn’t know the names of. The problem with un-named plants is that is it nearly impossible to figure out their names. You can look through thousands of photos and not figure it out. That is because there are many different series of plants that look so similar. The other is that yours may not have been growing in the same conditions, and different light will make them look different from those in the photos. I have guessed a few times, but I always try and buy only plants with tags in their pots unless I already know what they are, which isn’t that often.
Below, in alphabetical order, is a sample of the cultivars I have grown since 2009:
I hope the above pages help you and you find them useful. Please leave comments if you have questions or experiences to share.