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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - March 04, 2009

From: Newark, DE
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Source for non-native Coleus Canina
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We are trying to find Coleus Canina (Scaredy Cat Coleus)? to no avail. We purchased this plant in 2006 and it works. The Vt company no longer carries it. Can you help me. Thank you.

ANSWER:

You probably bought a plant known as Scardy Cat! or Dog's Gone! or Bunnies Gone!—all the same plant, Coleus canina Sumcol 01 (synonym = Plectranthus caninus). The plant belongs to the Family Lamiaceae (Mint Family) and is a native of Africa. It has an odor that has been described as smelling like tomcat pee and has acquired the name in England of the Pee-off plant. Luckily, its smell is only evident to animals with more sensitive noses (cats, dogs, foxes, etc.) than humans. It is only offensive to humans if the plant is crushed or rubbed. This information is from a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer; the above link is to a nursery and is still active.

Since this plant is not native to North America, we do not have it in our Native Plant Database. We did find, when we search the Internet on Coleus canina, that several people had bought them at Lowe's or Home Depot. However, the previous answer cited above was dated 2006 also, and it could be that this plant didn't sell well enough to satisfy the mass merchandisers, and is just not available. You might try the same thing, searcching on the Latin name, and see if you get other references to online mail order nurseries. 

 

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