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Genus Solenostemon (Coleus)

Solenostemon Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Meandering Linda' Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Benner
sol-en-oh-STEM-on Common Name: Coleus
Commonly known as coleus, this genus is grown mainly for its colorful foliage, which may be orange, red, yellow, green, purple, pink, cream, or many combinations of colors. The plants are especially useful in containers, hanging baskets, or as bedding.
Noteworthy characteristics: Dynamic foliage that holds its own or can be combined with annuals and perennials in the border or in containers.
Care: Moist but well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Coleus need a sheltered location in full sun or part shade and ample water in dry weather. Pinch off shoots and flower stalks to encourage good form and to avoid detracting from the foliage. Indoors, grow in a soil-based potting mix in bright filtered to moderate light. Water freely and fertilize every 2 weeks during active growth. In winter, keep just moist, and repot in spring. Alternatively, repropogate to produce the strongest growing plants.
Propagation: In early spring, sow seed on the surface of the soil and sprout at 72-75°F. In late spring, summer, and autumn, root softwood cuttings.
Problems: Mealybugs, scale insects, and whiteflies under glass.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Solenostemon

Solenostemon scutellarioides Solenostemon scutellarioides
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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

Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Aurora' Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Aurora'
(Coleus)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This coleus has medium, scalloped, pale pinkish green and medium green leaves with raspberry undersides.

Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Religious Radish' Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Religious Radish'
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This adaptable coleus will grow in sun or shade. Its reddish pink and burgundy-black leaves are large and pointed. Use 'Religious Radish' in a container or as bedding.  

Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Sedona' Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Sedona'
('Sedona' coleus)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Sedona' coleus has leaves blessed with shades of pink and orange, giving the plant a bronzy appearance.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Amazon’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Amazon’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

An excellent chartreuse selection, 'Amazon' has ruffly leaves that glow after dusk. It doesn't burn or streak in hot summer sun and has strong stems. Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in Zone 11. They are easy to grow, reliable plants known for their colorful foliage that comes in many color combinations and mixes well with other garden plants.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Candy Store’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Candy Store’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Candy Store' is a different kind of pink coleus. Blocks of raspberry-pink, sour apple, grape, and cream enliven the leaves and make this plant a real eye-catcher. It has a nice rounded shape, strong stems, and thick foliage.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Dark Star’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Dark Star’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

The simple, indigo-purple leaves of mid-size ‘Dark Star’ draw all eyes to its inky depths. Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in Zone 11. They are easy to grow, reliable plants known for their colorful foliage that comes in many color combinations and mixes well with other garden plants. 'Dark Star' contrasts well with white flowers or silver foliage, or it can be used to emphasize the blueness of certain flowers.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Fishnet Stockings’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Fishnet Stockings’
(Coleus, Painted nettle, Flame nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

A tall, upright coleus, 'Fishnet Stockings' has inky black lines throughout its vivid lime green leaves, tracing the pattern of every vein. The leaves are neatly notched along the edges, which are also outlined in black. Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in Zone 11. They are easy to grow, reliable plants known for their colorful foliage that comes in many color combinations and mixes well with other garden plants. Blue to white nettle-like flowers bloom in racemes in summer, but are not showy and tend to visually detract from the attractiveness of the plants.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Florida Sun' Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Florida Sun'
('Florida Sun' coleus)
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Sunburn never looked so good as it does on 'Florida Sun'. The splotchy red and orange leaves make a vibrant addition to containers and hanging baskets, and a go-to plant for studies in contrast.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Little Twister’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Little Twister’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

A mid-size coleus, perfect for filling gaps, 'Little Twister' has crimped, fingery leaves that emerge inky purple, then gradually change to predominantly yellow with lime edges and purple veins. Its 20-inch-long, deep purple stems and compact growth make ‘Little Twister’ a fabulous component of mixed containers.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Mariposa’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Mariposa’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Mariposa' is a big, upright, very striking coleus with 6- to 8-inch-long leaves that drape downward, allowing a clear view of their magnificent crimson-pink color. A single plant makes an imposing specimen. Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in Zone 11.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Meandering Linda’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Meandering Linda’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

‘Meandering Linda’, a close cousin of  Solenostemon ‘Red Trailing Queen’, grows 16 inches tall and bears crinkly, chocolate-purple leaves banded in rich raspberry-pink, with touches of cream along the edges. It makes a scrumptious duo with anything silver, especially the elegant silver-white foliage of dusty miller (Centaurea cineraria ‘Colchester White’, Zones 7–11). ‘Meandering Linda’ appears to be a sport of ‘Red Trailing Queen’, and if planted in less than half-day sun, it sometimes reverts to its plain burgundy form.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘New Hurricane’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘New Hurricane’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

‘New Hurricane’ has fiery red-and-yellow foliage, as intricately cut as paper snowflakes. As a mid-size (25 inches tall) coleus, it is good for filling gaps, but its appearance makes it much more than just a filler.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Orange King’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Orange King’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

‘Orange King’ exemplifies one of the loveliest characteristics of coleus, the ability to glow like stained glass when struck by sunlight. Its leaves radiate warm orange on a sunny day. Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in Zone 11. They are easy to grow, reliable plants known for their colorful foliage that comes in many color combinations and mixes well with other garden plants.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Red Trailing Queen’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Red Trailing Queen’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

As basic as a black dress, 15-inch-tall ‘Red Trailing Queen’ bedecks herself from leaf to stem in regal burgundy. Her simple oval leaf shape and straightforward color complement most shades, except blue and true purple. The subtle strength of the coleus’s burgundy foliage strikes a balance with soft pinks or pale yellows as well as bright fuchsias or bold oranges.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Ruby Ruffles’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Ruby Ruffles’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

‘Ruby Ruffles’ has frilly, fingery foliage with ruby centers and chartreuse edges. It is a relatively compact trailer. Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in Zone 11. They are easy to grow, reliable plants known for their colorful foliage. Blue to white nettle-like flowers bloom in racemes in summer, but are not showy and tend to visually detract from the attractiveness of the plants.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Swallowtail’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Swallowtail’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

‘Swallowtail’ puts on a fantastic display of texture and color. Its rippled and deeply scalloped leaves are a remarkable lemon yellow, with a lettuce-green and wine-red river flowing through the center of each one. It grows to 24 inches tall.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Trailing Bleeding Heart’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Trailing Bleeding Heart’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

The 14-inch-tall cultivar ‘Trailing Bleeding Heart’ has hot fuchsia-pink leaves ringed with purple and a band of lime green.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Trailing Salamander’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Trailing Salamander’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

‘Trailing Salamander’, which grows 14 inches tall, has oval, near-black leaves edged in bright lime. Its neutral color scheme makes it a choice filler for containers. It looks good with almost anything. Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in Zone 11. They are easy to grow, reliable plants. Blue to white nettle-like flowers bloom in racemes in summer, but are not showy and tend to visually detract from the attractiveness of the plants.

Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Vulcan’ Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Vulcan’
(Coleus, Flame nettle, Painted nettle)
(2 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

26-inch-tall ‘Vulcan’ has a complex color scheme: crimson with an undercurrent of reddish rose, enhanced by brushes of black that heighten the richness of its crimped, puckered leaves. A defining edge of lemon yellow causes the leaves to stand out from one another instead of blurring into a solid mass of color. ‘Vulcan’ makes such a dramatic statement that a single plant can carry a scene for the entire season. Use it to brighten a dull stretch of spring-blooming plants when the main show is over, or combine ‘Vulcan’ with asters and mums that don't contribute much to the garden until late summer.

Solenostemon scutellarioides Colorblaze® 'Alligator Tears'™ Solenostemon scutellarioides Colorblaze® 'Alligator Tears'™
('Alligator Tears' coleus)
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Green and cream never looked so good. This versatile color combo makes 'Alligator Tears' a go-to for foliage in container gardens.