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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Whatever You Want to Call it Now is my Favorite Plant - This Week

So, there I was, innocently looking up information about this weeks plant fave when the rude interweb informed me that the name I was using was that of a defunct genus and is now considered a common name. 


Coleus blumei (his friends just call him Coleus)  is now Plectranthus scutellarioides and Coleus is now considered a common name for this plant  along with Painted Nettle which I've never heard it called.  (Refers to it's relation to the deadnettle family.) Although, Wikipedia also says that the scientific name is Solenostemon scutellarioides so I guess you just get to choose.
 
Much as I love Latin -  botanical, liturgical and classical(each has it's own rules for pronunciation so you should know if you're talking to Dan Hinkley or the Pope!) I'm getting too old to keep up with all the name changes they keep throwing at us.  So, I'm going to call this plant Coleus and be common as dirt.


I love bright color that lasts all season long and Coleus provides it in spades. 

They look great in mixed plantings or in pots by themselves.

The images in this post show the ones that are in my garden this year.  I used to note the names of the ones I really liked but they're usually not available the next year. This fall I will take cuttings (you say that every year!)


 Some of them look stunning when backlit by the sun.  Unfortunately, I didn't do a very good job of capturing how gorgeous this looked.

Like stained glass.
 
Sometimes it's a good thing to read  plant labels.  This one is growing in a mixed pot

with this one that picks up the colors of the veins of the former  and echoes the colors of the cordyline.

With yellow creeping jenny to pick up the gold of the leaves and a small begonia boliviensis for an orange pop.  Unfortunately, the Yellow and purple one is a monster (drooping here a little because it wants water) and pretty much covers up the purples behind.  Hmm, that info on the label is helpful but only if you read it.  Oops.  Maybe I should just turn the pot around.

A perennial hardy in zones 11 and above, it's grown as an annual here but makes a nice houseplant (if you remember to water such things.)  There are trailing medium and large sized varieties in a kaleidoscope of colors.  Go ahead, throw a couple in your garden next year and pretend you're in the tropics.  (Or an older relative's dining room where she grew one as a houseplant.)
 
Check out the article in Fine Gardening Here.
 
Here's some interesting information from Wikipedia:

"Coleus blumei (now known as Plectranthus scutellarioides) has been reported to have very mild relaxing and/or hallucinogenic effects when consumed.  The effects of the Coleus plant have not been explored very much by modern scientists but the plant has been known to have been used by the Mazatec Indians of southern Mexico who have a history of consuming this plant for its mind-altering effects."

I'm joining with Loree at Danger Garden in her Favorite Plant of the Week Meme.  Click on over and see other bloggers' faves this week!

28 comments:

  1. This was my first year in a while that I haven't grown any Coleus. Yours are very pretty! I still call it Coleus too. It's gone through a couple of name changes, for a while it was also called Solenostemon. One of the reasons to use Latin names is to avoid confusion, but those plant namers have got all of us confused now.

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    1. I like to use Latin names as well but it's getting confusing. After you mentioned this, I noticed that the interweb says that the scientific name of Plectranthus scutellarioides is Solenostemon scutellarioides. Je suis confus!

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  2. Plectranthus is a genus that has some really great plants. You have to still call it 'Coleus' though, or people won't know what you're talking about (or worse, will think you're one of those plant snobs!)

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    1. Heaven forbid we be thought of as plant snobs:)

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  3. Love the title of your post, don't love the confusion. It's been a few years since I've grown any coleus in my garden, there was a time I couldn't get enough!

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    1. I'm confused enough as it is! Isn't it interesting how we go through phases of plant lust? Good thing as it keeps the nursery industry in the black!

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  4. Will the taxonomists ever stop with their reclassifications! I've finally learned how to spell Solenostemon scuttelarioides and now it's changing?! Luckily, I already know how to spell Plectranthus, which is a genus of plants I love. I love coleus too and those in your hit parade are all beautiful.

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    1. There must be some money involved in the taxonomy biz or they'd have stopped years ago and we'd be calling hostas funkias (you know, plantain lilies, giboshi.) The things with the leaves.

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  5. My mother grew Coleus 70 years ago. One of Mama's favorite little homilies in her old age was, "You have to come up with the times." Changing Coleus's name would have been a definite exception to that rule. Her favorite was 'Trailing Queen.'

    When you get your greenhouse, you can keep Coleus cuttings over the winter. Meanwhile, you can keep cuttings over the winter in a glass of water on the mantelpiece like Mama did,.

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    1. 'Trailing Queen' is the one that my older sister had for several years in her dining room window. They didn't much like the cool summers in southeast Alaska so it was a year round houseplant.

      I sometimes have taken cuttings but I get kind of busy in the winter and they sometimes run out of water in their jars and they end up being a little crunchy. I'll be better this year!

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  6. They are a stunning group of plants, should be used more often! And those taxonomists/botanists are a finicky bunch aren't they?

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    1. They're also pretty tough customers as I haven't killed them yet. Well, not outside in the garden at least.

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  7. You have some beautiful COLEUS there. The heck with new names. Anagallis monellii is now Lysimachia monellii. How can that be right? Maybe knowing the botanical name is a drawback after all.

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    1. How can an Anagallis be a Lysimachia? That's just crazy talk. Lysimachia conjures an entirely different plant in my head! Blue Pimpernel it is!

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  8. You captured the gorgeousness. As for each discipline having their own Latin pronunciations, pfft! No one alive has ever heard a native speaker of Latin pronounce anything so they're all just guessing. :-)

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    1. Glad you liked the pictures. You're right but as a musician, palmatum would be pronounced pahl mah toom, as a gardener pahl mate um and so forth. Fortunately, no composer ever set that word so we're safe...so far.

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  9. I'm constantly mixing up Dan Hinckley and the Pope, I was once visiting an elderly woman in her home and saw a picture of a benevolent-looking gentleman on her wall. I asked if he was her husband but it was in fact the Pope. Awkward silence followed.

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    1. Fun story! If you're in doubt and have an audience, look for the ring. If there is one, pope; if not Hinkley. If you get confused and kiss Hinkley's hand, you'll get a much different response I'm guessing.

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    2. Thanks for the LOL from both of you!

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  10. We have other plants that are plectranthus so I'm surprised that coleus (that's what I call them too) is now classified as plectranthus. Botanists really do just want to confuse us.

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    1. When in doubt, it's always good to impress people by making up a name. It adds to the confusion and lets us in on the fun! "Whatever is that plant over there?" "Oh, that's a psudomianthatheri acerifolium." Unless they have a writing utensil and paper or a recording device, they'll never remember anyway. If they do, by chance figure it out at a later date, you can simply say that they're right, the plant was recently reclassified and you were just using the old name.

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  11. All these name changes are so confusing, I do wish they'd leave well alone! They are just Coleus to me and such a great plant for livening up a dull area.

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    1. Maybe we could just use a symbol for the plant and call it the perennial formerly known as Coleus. It seemed to work for Prince. They do brighten up the garden and mine has few flowering things, mostly just blobs of green of one sort or another.

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  12. I'm confused too...the Pope and Dan Hinkley...aren't they one and the same? ;)
    I grow coleus as well as I grow begonias, which says it all. I don't like those party color ones but the last big yellow in the blue pot is the type I regret not growing. Plectranthus and I get along famously. I think I'm going to change my name too -- tired of Denise. I'll let you know.

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    1. It is tough to tell the difference sometimes! Hope this helps -
      The Pope: Ring, red shoes, fond of tall hats and swishy white caftans, always working Sundays and holidays, speaks liturgical latin and is somewhat tolerant of mispronunciations.
      Dan Hinkley: No big ring, I've never seen him in red shoes, a bishop's mitre, or a chasuble, takes most holidays off unless he's on a plant hunting expedition which is something the pope doesn't do, speaks botanical Latin and will correct all mispronunciations.
      For now, shall we call you the blogger formerly known as Denise?

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  13. Coleus will always be coleus to me, regardless of what those bored taxonomists decide to call it today. I added some to my garden this year and just love it. I love how bold it is. It reminds me of a loud, splashy, gaudy ring wearing I-retired-to-Florida-dahling plant that is totally unapologetic. Now if those polite begonias would just get off their butts and get it a drink, extra olives please, they'd all be happy.

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  14. I am never all that excited when I see coleus (or whatever its called now) at the nursery. But when I'm at Fry Road Nursery I can purchase them as plugs so I always get a few. And I'm always glad I did. Yours look lovely. I need to get photos of mine before the weather ruins them.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.