Coleus Painted NettleColeus scutellarioides, commonly known as coleus, is a species of flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae (the mint or deadnettle family), native to southeast Asia through to Australia. Typically growing to 60–75 cm (24–30 in) tall and wide, it is a bushy, woody-based evergreen perennial, widely grown for the highly decorative variegated leaves found in cultivated varieties.
The leaves are generally a deep green with cream, yellow, or pink markings, but can also be all green or all cream. The flowers are tubular, pink to purple in color, and produced in axillary whorls. Coleus makes an attractive addition to the garden, either planted individually or as part of a mixed border, and is also commonly used in container gardens. It is frost-tolerant but prefers a sunny location and well-drained soil.
The name Coleus comes from the Greek koleos, meaning "a sheath". The specific epithet scutellarioides means "like Scutellaria", a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. There are many cultivars of Coleus available, with a wide range of leaf colors and patterns. The following are a few examples:
'Bronze King': A vigorous grower with large, deep bronze leaves edged in green. 'Colorama': A very popular cultivar, with brightly colored pink and green leaves. 'Electric Lime': A cultivar with lime green leaves with a bright yellow margin. 'Flamingo': A cultivar with striking pink and red leaves. 'Lemon Twist': A cultivar with cream and green variegated leaves. 'Pineapple': A cultivar with deep green leaves heavily speckled with yellow. 'Ruby': A cultivar with deep red leaves edged in green.
Coleus is a fast-growing plant and can be easily propagated from stem cuttings. It can also be grown from seed, but the resulting plants may not have the same leaf color as those grown from cuttings.
Coleus is a great annual choice for gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11. In colder climates, it can be grown as a houseplant. When taken care of properly, coleus can last for many years in the garden. With its attractive foliage and easy-to-grow nature, it's no wonder this plant is so popular!
If you are looking for an evergreen perennial with brightly colored leaves, Coleus is a great choice. It is easy to grow, frost-tolerant, and looks great in the garden or in a container. There are many cultivars available, with a wide range of leaf colors and patterns, so you are sure to find one that suits your needs.