Coleus caninus (scaredy cat plant)

Coleus caninus

Scaredy cat

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

  • Botanical name: Coleus caninus
  • Common name: Scaredy cat
  • Family: Lamiaceae
  • Plant Type: Perennial
Flower colour:

Blue

Purple

Foliage colour:

Blue​/​Green

Coleus caninus is known as the scaredy cat or scat plant, as its smell is said to deter cats, as well as other mammals including dogs, rabbits, and foxes. Reports suggest that this plant deters around two-thirds of all cats, so it’s not a fail-safe solution, but worth trying where neighbouring cats are visiting your garden and using flower or vegetable borders for their toilet.

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Cat deterring aside, Coleus caninus is an attractive frost-tender perennial plant that forms a neat bush of lush foliage and bears blue flowers in summer. The rounded to scallop-edged green or grey-green leaves have a pungent unpleasant smell to humans, though mostly only when touched or bruised. Pale blue to violet blue flowers form lavender-like spires and are borne through summer, although not in the same abundance as lavender. Once established, Coleus caninus tolerates drought and is easy to grow, needing little attention apart from pruning stems that become straggly (wear gloves, as pruning releases the plants’ unpleasant smell).

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Plant Coleus caninus in borders or pots – the advantage of growing in containers is being able to readily move plants under cover for the winter to a frost-free place. A space-saving alternative is to take cuttings from mid- to late-summer, pot individually into small pots, and overwinter on a windowsill.

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Advice on buying Coleus caninus

  • Coleus caninus is sold online as plug plants for delivery in spring. Pot up individually into 9cm pots and grow on in a well-lit spot under cover until the frosts are past, then harden off (acclimatise to the outside) for at least a week before planting out
  • Other names that this plant may be sold under are Solenostemon canina and Plectranthus caninus.
  • Always check plants for signs of damage or disease before planting. Alocasia ‘Black Velvet’ can be prone to spider mites, so it would be worth quarantining new plants, particularly before adding to a terrarium.

Where to buy Coleus caninus

How to grow Coleus caninus

  • Plant size

    40cm height

    40cm spread

  • Aspect

    South facing, east facing, west facing

  • Position in border

    Front, middle

  • Sun exposure: Full sun, partial shade
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Soil type: Clay / heavy / moist / well drained / light / sandy

Plant calendar

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Take cuttings
Take cuttings

Do not Take cuttings in January

Do not Take cuttings in February

Do not Take cuttings in March

Do not Take cuttings in April

Do not Take cuttings in May

Do not Take cuttings in June

Do not Take cuttings in July

Do not Take cuttings in August

Do Take cuttings in September

Do not Take cuttings in October

Do not Take cuttings in November

Do not Take cuttings in December

Coleus caninus and wildlife

Coleus caninus is known for attracting bees.

Attractive to Bees

Does not attract Beneficial insects

Does not attract Birds

Does not attract Butterflies​/​Moths

Does not attract Other pollinators

Is Coleus caninus poisonous?

Coleus caninus causes an upset stomach.

Toxic to:

Toxic to Cats

Toxic to Dogs

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds

No reported toxicity to Horses

No reported toxicity to Livestock

No reported toxicity to People