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PlantFiles: Scaredy Cat, Scardy Plant, Cat Repellent Plant, Dogs Be Gone Coleus
Coleus canina

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Coleus (KO-lee-us) (Info)
Species: canina (kay-NEE-nuh) (Info)

22 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Medium Blue

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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5 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive funkthasystem On Jan 13, 2014, funkthasystem from Aiea, HI wrote:

I'm from Oahu and I recently bought coleus from Pearl City Walmart. Works like a charm.

Positive TheLoveofFlowers On Jan 18, 2012, TheLoveofFlowers from Saint Paul, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Smells bad (like skunk) whenever brushed against or bumped, but it does appear to work. I got a plant a couple years ago to keep squirrels and rabbits from digging up my garden and planters. I overwintered it and planted it outside the following year. Now I am overwintering it again. over wintering It doesn't get rid of the animals completely but I noticed ever since using them the squirrels usually ignore the planters, or at least don't dig into them as frequently as before.

It helps to take several cuttings and scatter them everywhere in the garden and in each planter. They root easily. Just about any moisture seems to do. It overwinters well as a houseplant. (provided it gets plenty of light, pinched back, and you can tolerate the smell when watering it.)

Positive Kaku On Dec 2, 2011, Kaku from Ahuimanu, HI wrote:

I live on the island of Oahu in Hawaii and I'm trying to find out who sells this plant here. Does anybody know? Thank You.

Positive sara2 On May 5, 2006, sara2 from Charleston, WV wrote:

Have grown this plant for 3 summers successfully and it does work. I take cuttings each fall and root lots of them in water, then transplant to peat pots and finally put outside after last frost date. (I'm in 6b zone) You do need lots of plants; it is very definitely skunk smelling and will smell when touched or disturbed - if you handle the plant it will leave a slight skunk smell on your hands. Will even smell indoors under growlights in the winter if you disturb the leaves. Bloom is non-descript (might even try cutting bloom off to cut down on smell and grow strictly for foliage), grown for foliage, plants wind up mounding nicely, but I do not put out on the edge of my border, instead space around by edges shrubs and in the middle of a bed. My dogs avoid it and so do neighborhood cats. It loves hot, dry soil and the tiny plants will flourish once outdoors and hot late June-August weather hits.

Positive MollyMc On Jul 31, 2005, MollyMc from Archer/Bronson, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant growns in full afternoon sun as well as in full shade. I have it in a pot that I move around the garden where cats need repelling. So far it seems to be working. As the stems grow and rest on the ground, they will set roots out.

Neutral Prism On Sep 19, 2004, Prism from Saint Peters, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

Very easy to grow & propagate like other coleus'. Has an odor similar to skunk. I call them my skunk plants. Its purpose is to repel rabbits, cats, dogs, & fox. I purchased 2 plants from Home Depot and took many cuttings to propagate it through several of my flower beds. I don't know how well it worked. It seems you would have to have quite a few before it would do very much repeling. They are not really obnoxious unless you get down & breath deeply. A slight odor is noticeable when watering them but not too bad. Nice looking light green foliage plants. Repeling quality still to be determined. I hope to overwinter enough to have a better idea on that next year.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Highgrove, California
San Diego, California
Arvada, Colorado
Brandon, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Aiea, Hawaii
Hawaiian Ocean View, Hawaii
Makaha, Hawaii
Divernon, Illinois
Ewing, Kentucky
House Springs, Missouri
Saint Peters, Missouri
Springfield, Missouri
Yonkers, New York
Humble, Texas

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