Coleus is in the Lamiaceae family. It is related to mints, salvia, sage and deadnettle. Solenostemon scutellarioides, Plectranthus scutellarioides and Coleus Blumei are synonyms for coleus. Painted nettle or poor man’s croton are other common names for coleus. This decorative foliage plant has beautiful, colorful shades of purple, red, green, yellow, etc. It is often variegated and horticulturalists have developed several cultivars.

This versatile foliage plant grows well in the sun or the shade. In addition, coleus may be raised in pots and can even grow indoors. Moreover, it grows very easily from cuttings and grows fast! In tropical areas it is a short lived perennial. Whereas, in colder climates it is considered an annual plant. This plant grows from ½ feet to 3 feet tall and is bushy. In hot environments the leaves can actually be more vibrant in the shade.

Growing Coleus in the Tropics

Coleus is one of our favorite ornamental plants to grow in companionship with our young fruit trees. For example, we like to plant it around our fruit trees cages to discourage tropical grasses and weeds. It also provides a decent windbreak and additional shade for the young trees and the soil around their trunks. 

You can let flowers flourish or you can pinch them off (similar to basil) for increased leaf production. Coleus can be propagated from seed or cuttings. Although, if you purchase seeds of a known cultivar they may not grow true to seed.

If you purchase cuttings from us, you will receive 6-12″ thick cuttings (with the top set of leaves intact). You should plant the cuttings in loose soil and keep them moist until you see new growth. For improved results you can dip the cuttings in rooting powder.


  1. Hawaiian Organic Growing Guide, Shunyam Nirav. (1992) Oasis Maui Inc.
  2. Suva, Manoj. (2015). Coleus Species: Solenostemon scutellarioides. Inventi Rapid: Planta Activa. 2015. 1-5.

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