Unusual Front Gardens #25: Keep it simple

I don't usually go for coleus, but these three simple pots round the corner catch my eye every time I go past them.

They're placed below a window at the end of a drab drive, with colours that blend with each other well and also complement the brickwork of the house. This photo was taken on a dreary day and their fieriness helps to lift the gloom.

I think they're fabulous, how about you?

Update October 4th 2016: It looks like the outer coleus are a new cultivar called 'Campfire', spotted amongst 56,000 seedlings at the University of Florida in 2012, or possibly 'Redhead'. It depends whether the orange of 'Campfire' has intensified, like the blurb in this month's HTA News says it does.

This is a tender perennial of hardiness H1C which means it can be grown outdoors in the summer.

Update same day: Ball Colegrave introduced these onto the UK market this year, so I was able to get their American company to confirm the cultivar via Twitter.

Ball Colegrave Plant ID conversation on Twitter

Latin without tears

Coleus is another plant which has undergone a name change recently, though like aster it remains as the common name and is considered to be a synonym of the genus Plectranthus

Most of the coleus we grow as ornamental plants are classified as Plectranthus scutellarioides. I haven't found the meaning of Plectranthus yet, and scutellarioides means it resembles the genus Scutellaria. This genus name is derived from the Latin scutella, which means a small dish or bowl and describes the appearance of the fruit's calyx.

Update September 24th: Diana left a comment which illustrates the joy of blogging. She's found the meaning of Plectranthus for me:

Plectron = spur and anthos = flower. From: Plantzafrica website
The website adds the words plectron and anthos are Greek in origin.

Update October 2016: Confusingly the RHS lists both 'Campfire' and 'Redhead' online as Solenostemon scutellerioides. Looks like the debate Diana and I have had in the comments is set to run and run...


  1. Stunning, I could almost start liking Coleus having seen that photo!

    1. Hello, welcome to Veg Plotting. Coleus were in the 'not to be touched with a bargepole' category until I saw these. Shows we must never say never ;)

  2. I like coleus and think that these look rather good, I especially like the middle colour. Flighty xx

    1. Flighty - I've been thinking about how those pots would look if they had the same plant in each of them. I don't think it'd look quite as good as that threesome does now.

  3. Plectron = spur and anthos = flower.
    from http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantnop/plectranambig.htm

    I find it hard to see those vivid leaves as related to Plectranthus TIL.

    1. Fantastic - thanks for the extra information Diana. I'll update my post with a link to you :)

      I think you saw Anna's (Greentapestry) example the other day? If you compared the leaves of these with the one she posted about, then the similarities begin to show. I've a couple of other Plectranthus waiting in the wings to show you in a future post. As ever, we're in the hands of the DNA specialists re plant classification these days.

    2. PS I am the proud owner of a brand new RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Plants, 4th edition just out. It confirms coleus is now classified as Plectranthus. I'm glad I have it, as the online information I consulted for this post is contradictory!

    3. I have a future post on the Chelsea Physic Garden - where they nicely explain GRRRumble they've renamed that!

    4. OK http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/125/#b
      Aromatic leaves, spikes of flowers, mint family.

      I only know of 2 South African species with variegated leaves, both in my garden.
      The tropical exuberance of coleus colours comes from SE Asia.

    5. Lots of plants seem to have had a name makeover recently. I'm finding it hard to keep up Diana! BTW Dave Garden's post is one of the articles I'm referring to when I said the online information is contradictory. When I look up coleus or Solenostemon scutellarioides in my RHS Encyclopedia, both refer onwards to the entry under Plectranthus. As this was only published a couple of weeks ago, I'm taking it as the most up to date position I can find on the right name. NB Missouri Botanical Garden also confirms this: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a547.

      This plant has been extensively hybridized into a myriad of cultivars, where explosions of colour and variegated leaf forms are actively looked for. The result of that work is what I'm seeing round the corner, whereas I think you're looking at native species in your garden?

  4. I grew coleus for the first time in ages this year and used it in tubs with other plants. Thet were effective and I will grow them again next year.

    1. I'm changing my mind about them Sue, based on this example. They may be tender for our climate (but can be overwintered indoors if you have the space, which I don't), but they last for ages.

  5. I went through a stage of growing Coleus when I was a teenager - makes a change from drinking cider down the park. I grew it again this summer, and they're looking lovely, though not as fancy as the ones you've photographed. I have a soft spot for them, although I admit that they are an acquired taste.

    1. Yes, they seem to be one of those 'Marmite' plants HM. However, I'm never going to like Marmite, and I may get to like coleus ;)


Post a Comment

I love hearing from you and welcome thoughtful conversations :)

Comments aiming to link back and give credence to commercial websites will be composted!

Your essential reads

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: 'Just Add Cream'

Wildflower Wednesday: Alpengarten

Salad Days: Mastering Lettuce

Dessert Apple Jelly: Seasonal Recipe

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day: The Best of Summer

Jack Go To Bed At Noon

Weekend Wandering: To the Sunflowers!

June Drop

Wildflower Wednesday: A New Year Plant Hunt

Weekend Wandering: A new sculpture trail