Grown for foliage and flowers, Plectranthus is a genus of about 350 species of annuals, evergreen perennials, semi-succulents, and shrubs from Africa, Madagascar, Asia, Australasia, and the Pacific islands. They are useful in a cool greenhouse or conservatory or outdoors in hanging baskets, containers, or sunny borders. The foliage is often ornamental, with decorative margins and a fuzzy appearance. The flowers are small but are often borne in good-size racemes of tubular, two-lipped flowers in shades of purple, pink, white, or blue. Plectranthus are part of the mint family and closely related to Solenostemon (coleus).
Noteworthy CharacteristicsMany species are fast-growing; attractive, aromatic, soft foliage that often has scalloped, toothed, or wavy edges.
CarePlectranthus needs well-drained soil of moderate fertility in dappled shade. If grown indoors, provide full light but with protection from hot sun. Water freely and fertilize monthly during active growth, but keep just moist in winter.
PropagationDivide in spring, or take stem-tip cuttings any time. Rooted branches of trailing species can be removed. To grow from seed, sow ripe seed at 66° to 75°F.
ProblemsMealybugs, spider mites, leaf spots, and root rot can sometimes be problems.