Perry's Perennial Pages -- 2003 Research Update

Coleus and Mealybugs

Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Over the last four years I've had various coleus cultivars on trial, about 3 dozen per year, for a total of 109 to date. These are planted outdoors in summer, overwintered from cuttings in our UVM greenhouses. They serve as stock for teaching in various courses, photographs for teaching, educational display at the Champlain Valley Fair, and observation of habit and performance. This past winter (2002-2003) in the greenhouse we had 4 plants for most of the following cultivars, mixed up randomly on a bench, with 2 rootbound and slightly woody plants, 2 vigorous succulent plants.

Of course one of the main pests of coleus, mainly found on plants indoors not outdoors, is mealybug. In the past, as this year, we've noticed they seem to prefer certain cultivars over others. Often they seem to be found on all plants of a particular cultivar, and on no plants of others. My grad student Andrea Luchini and I recently observed and noted which cultivars had mealybugs (y) or not (n). This of course may vary with year, strain of mealybug, and vigor of plants (more vigorous seem to be more succulent and so more attractive to these insects). So while these results are not absolute, they should serve as a guide to some cultivars which may be less prone to mealybugs and so easier to maintain.
Cultivar foliage; comments mealybugs
Atlas large, purple, green center y
Aurora light pink, green margins y
Bloodshot green and pink, dark veins y
Blusher rose, light veins n
Brocade ruffled, dark red n
Camillia pink and green; heirloom n
Chartreuse green-yellow y
Concord raspberry red n
Copacetic pastel yellow y
Copper Glow copper orange n
Crazy Quilt light and dark red y
Dark Frills low, pink, dark centers n
Dark Star purplish black y
Downer's Ribbons purple, pink center, green edge n
Downer's Ribbons sport red-purple; from UVM plants 2002 y
Eclipse red, pink blush y
Ella Cinders purple and olive y
Flirtin Skirts scalloped, gold to pink n
Freckles (PW) green, red spots n
Glennis green, dark veins y
Inky Fingers green, dark red and purple y
Kathryn Rose dark rose n
Kid Charlemagne green, purple veins, white flecks n
Live Wire green, red spots y
Lord Voldemort green, dark patterns and stems n
Molton Orange orange, green edge y
Oompha small, green, purple center n
Othello dark black-purple, ruffled y
Paisley Shaw (Shawl) green, white red, toothed y
Penny coppery olive, ruffled y
Red Ruffles rose red, heirloom y
Schizophrenia purple, red, tan n
Sky Fire (PW) red,. dark center, yellow edge y
Skyrocket red, yellow edge y
Solar Flair purple, green margin n
Stained Glass dark red, light center y
Thumbelina small, green, purple n
Tilt a Whirl copper, red, furled n
Violet Tricolor purple, green red y

(PW indicates part of the Proven Winners program; foliage color may vary with light intensity, fertility, and age of the plant.)

Copyright 2003, not for publication without permission from author.

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