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Last Update 06/03/08

Plant of the Month

Coleus X hybridus (Solenostemon)


Coleus is a bushy, herbaceous subshrub with highly colored leaves and spikes of blue and white flowers. A member of the Labiatae (Lamiaceae) or mint family, coleus is a permanent perennial in Zones 10 and 11, marginal in Zone 9, resprouting from roots; and an annual elsewhere.

Coleus, Solenostemon

Plant Facts:

Common Name:   Coleus

Botanical Name:   Solenostemon

Family:  Labiatae (Lamiaceae) 

Plant Type:  Bushy, herbaceous subshrub

Origin: Southeast Asia and Malaysia

Zones: Permanent perennial in Zones 10 and 11, marginal in Zone 9, resprouting from roots; and an annual elsewhere

Height: to 36"

Rate of Growth: Fast

Salt Tolerance: Low

Soil Requirements:  Rich, well drained, moist

Water Requirements: Not drought tolerant, needs regular, adequate amounts of water.

Nutritional Requirements: Balanced liquid fertilizer monthly, greatly appreciates side dressings of compost or manure.

Light Requirements: Does best in partial shade 

Form:  Bushy, spreading subshrub

Leaves:  Slightly hairy, highly colored, heart-shaped, to 6" long

Flowers: Terminal, whorled racemes, to 6" long of tiny blue or white flowers


Pests or diseases:  Aphids, mealy bugs

Uses:  Beds, borders, foliage plant, specimen plant

Bad Habits: Plants tend to die out if flowers allowed to go to seed. Will grow in full sun, but the leaf colors will wash out. Deep shade reduces vibrancy of leaf color.

Cost:  $$ -- Very reasonable

Propagation:  Root softwood cuttings from late spring to autumn. Can also be grown from seed surface sown.

Sources:  Tropical Look: An Encyclopedia of Dramatic Landscape Plants; American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants

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