Coleus

Solenostemon scutellarioides

Photo/Illustration: 
Jennifer Benner
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Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)
sol-en-oh-STEM-on skoot-el-lar-ee-OY-deez
Synonyms:  Coleus blumei var. verschaffeltii
Genus:  Solenostemon
Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in Zone 11. The variously shaped leaves of these popular bedding plants typically combine several colors, such as chartreuse, rust red, cream, and purple-black. Some cultivars sport almost all of these colors combined. The darker the red in the leaf, the more sun the plant will tolerate. Coleus blooms in summer, but the blue to white nettle-like flowers are unremarkable and tend to detract visually from the impact of the foliage. -Debra Lee Baldwin, Regional Picks: Southern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
Noteworthy Characteristics:  Coleus may be overwintered indoors where not hardy. They have been popular since Victorian times or earlier. The leaves frequently feature mixtures of colors in irregular patterns.
Care:  Coleus like warm soils with decent drainage, and they are not happy in overly dry conditions. Grow in full sun to medium shade; their colors are most vivid in full sun. Half-day sun produces softer colors that are still very appealing. Plants grown in too much sun may wilt, and plants grown in too much shade may become leggy.
Propagation:  Sow seed on the soil's surface at 72° to 75°F in early spring. Root softwood cuttings from late spring to autumn.
Problems:  Mealybugs, scale insects, and whiteflies may be a problem under glass. No serious insect or disease problems.

Overview

Height
1 ft. to 3 ft.
Spread
1 ft. to 3 ft.
Growth Habit
Clumps
Growth Pace
Moderate Grower
Light
Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture
Adaptable
Maintenance
Moderate
Characteristics
Showy Foliage
Bloom Time
Summer
Flower Color
Island Paradise,
White
Foliage Color
Colorful/Burgundy Foliage,
Evergreen
Uses
Beds and Borders,
Container,
Indoor Plant,
Suitable as Annual
Style
Cottage Garden,
Formal Garden
Seasonal Interest
Spring Interest
Type
Perennials

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Coleus
Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Mariposa’
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Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Little Twister’
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Coleus
Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Dark Star’
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Coleus
Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Swallowtail’