My mysterious garden, or, when Caladium is actually Coleus!


It should be known that until recently, I’ve had a black thumb. Charming has the greenest of all the thumbs. His garden is one of his top 5 pride & joys. And I must say, although gardening has never been in my vocabulary, I really enjoy his backyard. I call it the “Secret Garden.”

I’ve been trying to take an interest beyond, “Ooh! That’s pretty!” and “Holy cow that’s a big tomato!” to actually knowing things about the yard. That is why I was so excited to see page 86 in this month’s Better Homes & Gardens Magazine (July 2017). The focus of the Home Plantings section was Caladiums.

If you’re like me, the name didn’t do it for you. The pictures caught my eye. Those are in both our front and back yard! So, now we will go on a tour of my Caladiums, sharing what I’ve learned along the way. (Feel free to comment below any mistakes you’ve seen as a lot of this is guesswork based on one article.)

To read all the same information via their Plant Encyclopedia, visit BH&G Online.

The first thing I learned was that the plants around my home, though similar, are not Caladiums. #Fail.

Trying to match the pictures of my plants to those in the provided guide, I noticed while they have similar leaves with vibrant colors reaching out to green edges, there is a significant difference. My leaves all have scalloped edges. Every example shown in BH&G has straight edges. So of course, I head to Google.

Coleus 1I first tried a Google image search. Each of my photos, when dropped in the search box, received the result, “Flower.”  Then I tried a search attempting to describe the “flower.” I entered “scalloped edge leaf with green edges red center.”

Now we’re cookin’! Right away I see the plant that looks just like my first picture! Rather than a Caladium, it turns out Charming is growing Coleus plants. I did a search for those and just looked at the image results and what do you know? Every one of those plants from the yard had a similar picture that when clicked through, led to an article on Coleus (Plecanthus Scutellarioides) in the family Lamiaceae. The one I’m showing to the left is Shade Loving with Veigned Pattern.

I felt pretty stupid for a moment. Then I realized that any effort I make to learn the bits and pieces of our garden is a win. I went looking through the garden for one plant and fell in love with another! Furthermore, the next page of the article (pg. 88) had a box on the side showing three “Perfect Partners” that look great with Caladiums and also love the shade. Number one on the list? Coleus. Boom.

While it doesn’t go into great care detail like it does for the featured plant, I found on the Better Homes website the link above to the Caladium and realized I could type in my plants’ name. Here is everything on the Coleus Plant. In the meantime, if you know any of the varieties in my photos, I’d love it if you’d leave me an answer in the comments below! I’m going to try to label them from the website, but do point out when I get it wrong!

Coleus 4
Shade-Loving with Edged Leaf
Coleus 5
Shade-Loving with Veined Pattern?
Coleus 6
Shade-Loving with Blended Leaf?
Coleus 3
Sun-Loving with Solid Leaf Color
Coleus 2
  Shade-Loving Trailing?


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