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Coleus scutellarioides

  • ​Common name: Coleus
  • Scientific name: Coleus scutellarioides, Plectranthus scutellarioides, Solenostemon scutellarioides, Coleus blumei
  • Family name: Lamiaceae
  • Origin: Southeast Asia and Australia
  • Height: 0.5 to 3 ft
  • Width: 0.5 to 3 ft
  • Growth: Fast
  • Zone: USDA Zones 10 through 11
  • Light needs: Part shade to full shade
  • Salt tolerance: Low
  • Soil/pH/Texture: Prefers moist, well-drained soil with an acidic to neutral pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
  • Moisture: Soil should be kept moist but not inundated.
  • Drought tolerance: Low
  • Pests/Diseases: Aphids, spider mites, and white flies.
  • Growing conditions: Should be grown in a warm, shady area. This plant needs plenty of water, but the soil should not get too waterlogged. Make sure not to place this plant in direct sun as it will cause it to wilt. It can also be grown as a houseplant, where it should be placed in an area with bright but indirect light.
  • Characteristics: This plant grows to form a short, round, and colorful shrub. Stems are green or dark red and have a characteristic square shape. Leaves grow oppositely and are spade-shaped with toothed margins. These leaves are very colorful, with splotches of red, pink, and green that vary in shade and pattern depending on the cultivar. The light purple flowers grow in clusters at the ends of stems. Fruit and seeds are brown and inconspicuous. This plant is an annual in colder areas, but in warm climates it is a short-lived perennial and can live for a while if tended to.
  • Propagation: By seeds or by cuttings. Cuttings are usually the safest option, as many cultivars do not come true from seeds.
  • Facts: It has been a popular ornamental plant since Victorian times when it was brought over to Europe by a Dutch horticulturalist. Since then, many different cultivars have been developed.
  • Designer considerations: It is most commonly used as a mass planting along borders and walkways. Its rounded shape and bright foliage add a splash of color to any landscape. Planting different cultivars next to each other will help add color variety while maintaining the same texture.