Plectranthus scutellarioides (L.) R.Br. is 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.
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.
Dave’s Garden and a few other websites say that Solenostemon scutellarioides (L.) Codd is the accepted scientific name. It was documented as such by Leslie Edward Wastell Codd in Bothalia (A Record of Contributions from the National Herbarium, Union of South Africa. Pretoria) in 1975.
This guide in Dave’s Garden, “Plectranthus”, written by Marie Harrison in 2011, has some very interesting information.
The Plant List is very detailed and many botanists and horticulturalists were working very hard to make revisions and make sure the names are accurate. However, I recently found out The Plant List is no longer maintained. SO, even though plant names have changed, The Plant List hasn’t been updated. Dave’s Garden and some other sites update regularly and say Solenostemon scutellarioides is still the correct and accepted name. The Plant List, Missouri Botanical Garden (Tropicos), and the Wikipedia say that Plectranthus scutellarioides is the correct and accepted name. The NEW website, maintained by Kew, Plants of the World Online, say that Plectranthus scutellarioides is a synonym but they don’t say of what… When I searched Solenostemon scutellarioides it said “no results found”. They are still uploading data so they will probably catch up someday and say this is an accepted name (since they were a contributor to The Plant List). Coleus has been given many names and been in and out of several different genera.
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 tend to develop what is called “black leg” 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 to 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 following pages help you and you find them useful. Please leave comments if you have questions or experiences to share.