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     TRUE CULTIVAR COUNT™ is a trademark of the New Ornamentals Society (

Membership starts at just $36 a year and includes the largest cultivar encyclopedia in PDF and THE COLEUS ANNUAL which you own and may keep forever.

  • Members receive the full cultivar encyclopedia, now with more than 1500 different cultivars. It now covers over 419 large PDF pages, about 600-700 pages of content in a printed, wide-margined book. Unlike some popular books, this massive guide includes taxonomic quality descriptions (no "pretty red and gold" stuff), high-res digitial scans, detailed history, and plates from classic old catalogs and articles about Coleus. We are literally writing "the book" on Coleus and our members share in the duty to keep it complete and accurate. Click here for a 12 megabyte, 31-page sample of this detailed encyclopedia covering named clones from 1856 to present.
  • Each year  members receive this compendium of the past year's research including new articles by experts on many subjects. Images from the past year's cultivar trials make a useful reference on new and exciting introductions. Articles from  the current issue include:
    • Progress of the Cultivar Identification Program (full text of the polychotomous key)
    • A Brief History of the International Coleus Society
    • Forgotten Coleus Developers: Manda, Sander, and Neubronner
    • Coleus Illustration from the Past: A Small Gallery
    • The New Cultivar Group System
    • 2015 NOS/ICS Cultivar Trials (full, final report with all images)
    • When A Famous Literary Genius Discusses A Cut-leaved Coleus
  • Participation in research programs where members pool data for analysis 
  • A wonderful gallery of paintings, digital images, and other media focusing on the beauty of Coleus. These works range from famous artists to very recent, modern pieces. 
  • The ICS Cultivar ID or Identification Service has several available components, all developed and refined by members. This member's only resource alone is a great reason to join. Our four major resources are:
    • COLEUS ID GRID: a spreadsheet with Cultivar Groups as rows and Color Groups (ie. green centered red, yellow mottled red, chartreuse veined purple), showing names of cultivars in each combination of the traits. There are current 504 cells or ID Groups to describe the diversity in this vast genus. 
    • ICS Cultivar Polychotomous Key: This is a modern version of the traditional taxonomic identification key where you have two choices but in this case 2-5 answers to each question. Our goal is to present the 200 most popular cultivars in groups similar to the ID grid but in this classic form - like a decision tree. We eventually hope to harmonize the two tools but for now each serves a slightly different purpose. 
    • ICS TRIAL REPORTS: each year we produce a PDF trial report with very high resolution, digital JPG images (most 1200-1250 pixels wide) with scans of cultivars we have evaluated in our trial gardens. With 78 cultivars in 2014 and over 114 in 2015, this set of amazing, best-ever in the genusimages provides a wonderful set of tools for identification. Sometimes we compare and contrast similar clones on one scan and other times it's just one cultivar with ID tips on how it differs from the hundreds of cultivars we've already studied. Best of all, the trial report is a rapidly-changing document you DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT FOR! We update the report every 2-4 weeks during the active season (and yes, we have indoor trials yearround now) so there is always some useful visual data to view and download for your personal reference library. 
    • MEMBER-ASSISTED CONSULTATION: we have three members with expertise in identification, taxonomy, and breeding unique traits to help answer your emails as a member when the above tools fail or give unclear results. And when you join, we'd really treasure your expertise as a Coleus expert or casual observer. 
  • Ability to serve on our special committees devoted to such topics as show standards, design, genetics and breeding, taxonomy and nomenclature, marketing, and general administratrion. 
  • are supported by member's dues and donations. In 2014 we had 98 cultivars and clones on trial in and 2015 we topped out at 151. The detailed Trial Reports show photographs and detailed leaf scans of this material. It all makes for an advanced study guide to the best heirloom and modern cultivars, how they differ (or not) and also something a useful buyer's guide for our own plant purchases. The following image is typical of our trial reports and includes a highly accurate metal cm ruler and color calibration tab. Most of our scans are corrected realtime in a simple but accurate way - we simply hold the same fresh leaf, just scanned, up to the screen in Photoshop or GIMP and adjust the colors if needed. 
  • Support for the society's  renowned cultivar registration process that uses a world-class online tool that not only accepts plant descriptions but images, attached files, and Google maps (to your nursery or display garden) 
  • is our online cultivar registration system which feeds directly to the member's ICS Cultivar Files. This system of data collection is providing international stability in Coleus nomenclature in way we have needed for decades...actually since 1856 really. Now we can do it with staff trained in taxonomy, genetics, and other botanical and horticultural fields. Your dues support this valuable work. We need new members to work for more registrations around the world. Since 2015 we are sharing registrations through the OROC or Open Registration of Ornamental Cultivars program which gives authors, bloggers, and students free access to this content. To learn more about OROC Data Sharing that improves radically on the old cultivar registration methods, please visit our sister site
  • is a fancy term for measuring everything about a cultivar to find ways to both identify and separate (delimit) the variable morphology and colors of this genus. Sometimes two cultivars which look very similar to the casual observer can be told apart by counting the number of teeth or measuring their unique. You don't know until you try. We have and the results are fascinating. As a member, you can measure your plants and contribute to this worldwide project to understand the genus even better.
  • is the next logical step from phyllometrics or measuring leaves. We take those numbers and use statistical tools to group cultivars by similar groups of traits. Thus if we have an unknown plant we can try to match it up to all known material in the database. 
  • Data and plant sharing among members. It is our goal to curate and manage a worldwide, distributed collection of rare and heirloom cultivars among our members and supporters. Trading clones among members and listng them for trade is our first step. Of the 1500 known Coleus cultivars, probably less than 500 still exist. Some people subscribe to the Darwinist-Capitalism theory when applied to hortiuclture; meaning all good cultivars will find a way to survive, find a market and live on. Sadly in the world of humans where plants are almost randomly conserved and perserved for the next generation, we have lost a large number of unique clones and valuable germplasm. We hope to minimize the harm to Coleus diversity in the future but sharing more widely with an international system of backing up, you will, or replicating rare stock around the world. Even now in 2015, some cultivars are so rare that just one or two growers handle all the distributution for the world. 
  • is just one of several projects the ICS has to preserve historical docucments about Coleus. These include nursery catalogs, old articles, images (print or scanned), and rare books. We even catalogs from 2000 to present because they tend to disappear from the internet, never get printed in hardcopy form, and more than 12 major Coleus growers have simply gone out of business! INCA has copies of more than 38,000 nursery catalog pages from 2000 including some amazing growers that sadly no longer exist. For example, the 1897 Burpee Farm Annual with this first ever picture of the Laciniate-Fimbriate leaf morphology known in North America is shown below  with the earliest known image of 'Salicifolius' from the Germany originator.

    With the recent demise of one very large, two small influential Coleus sites, one society attempt, and several influential vendors, the New Ornamentals Society under the direction of Horticultural Taxonomist Larry Hatch has decided to help fill the void and go a couple of steps beyond anything known before. We are currently in production of our HITS (House, Interior, Tropical, and Succulent) plant encyclopedia expect to reach 1300-1400 PDF pages by 2017 when completed. Offering our extended Coleus resources free to the public and as a sample of our coming work, seemed like a good move. Here's what we hope to bring to the table:

    1. 1100-1250 pixel wide, high-res digital, screen-filling, sometimes stunning Coleus images which are staples of the New Ornamentals Society program since 1993. When we don't have our own we get permssion from the big houses to promote their cultivars with stellar JPGs.

    2. Expert taxonomic evaluation of nomenclature and construction of detailed cultivar descriptions.

    3. Historical context and integration of new and old cultivar taxonomy going back to the 1840's and before. Not one Coleus book does this right.

    4. Exploration of genus and species nomenclature including the brain-dead Solenostemon single species myth for all hybrids and an honest appraisal of other genus choices.

    5. No more "pooled ignorance" and awful, tiny blurred images from popular garden blogs and pseudo-authoritative databases which post anything, everything, and have no means or desire to filter out fact from fiction nor good science from bad science.

    6. Links to sources for new and rare cultivars. Intellectual "know" is not enough in a crazy, complex, and phenotypically wild genus like Coleus. We need to read, know, and grow. All three. Grow everything you can afford or have space for. It's the only way and in that process we will adore Coleus more. To some they are trash annuals; mere colorful toys or bobbles, garish or gaudy things with flecks and stripes, hard to delimit and mostly not worthy of close inspection. Not so! Today the best clones are far above most perennials and trees for sophisticated chimeras, pigments patterned by unseen artists,  and heavenly morphology. Where else can a buck's worth of seed produce so much entertaining and shade-banishing color? No Hosta or Cornus can pretend to be so complex.  Are Coleus poor cousins to enduring perennials and  massive trees likely to overlive our grandchildren? In no way since 1890 perhaps. Be not discouraged for Coleus are an ancient genus of pride from ancient lands to the most demanding folks in Victorian England to the finest gardens ever constructed on this earth in a hundred fine countries this very year. They are mints with a glint and when human intellect joins their ready genetics - watch out for very lovely things to acquire, treasure, and share. Coleus are real gems, beacons of horticultural refinement, and not pretenders to class or new form. Any fool can make a nice Coleus garden for $50 to $200 mailorder. And for that reason the uber-design and mega-Hosta and elite-orchid snobs will never want to be among us. Barriers are down and rewards are high in this genus - like it or not. Coleus are a people's flag, a shining reminder of a simpler time when 500 seeds a' ready and slips from your grandma got you a garden prettier than most anything you'd ever seen -  and we can still make as many as we care to share with friends and family. Heck they even root in water and do colorful hydroponic dances for years. Even the most pricey Coleus this year is just six whole dollars.

    7. Youtube, Google Books, blog, catalog, and other types of links of merit. Good solid resources with no junk.

    8. A new Coleus Cultivar Registration Project outside the ISHS-ICRA system we will launch online in 2014.

    9. Your input with true knowledge and documentation. Simple posting and "pooled ignorance" will not get past our editors for more than .13 milliseconds. Bring the data and proof and we'll talk true Coleus data. Tell us about your new clones, observations, and more. Write us with sometime to share or prove or correct at

    HITS from the is identical to the full member's ICS CULTIVAR FILES for the genus Coleus. HITS contains all genera or groups of indoor and tropical plants. HITS is updated during the subscriber's 120 day download interval while ICS members receive all the updates 365 days a year. This society is a spin-off of the HITS project and GENUS CENTRAL of due to high, worldwide interest in the genus Coleus.

    The Coleus Finder by Addink (website, cultivar checklist, source finder) - a vast resource to 1433 different cultivars with links to more than 1115 photos, sources from 44 suppliers. Apparently not updated since 2008 but it remains a potent, transformative reference.

    The Establishment of Varieties in Coleus by Stout (ebook, Google Books) - pioneering scientific study of coleus clones, their markings, and inheritance. This classic is free courtesy of Google Books.

    Coleus Breeding by Dr. Bob Bors, Plant Science Department, University of Saskatchewan - best known for the breakthrough UNDER THE SEAŽ series.

    The Coleus Finder by Addink (website, cultivar checklist, source finder) - a vast resource to 1433 different cultivars with links to more than 1115 photos, sources from 44 suppliers. Apparently not updated since 2008 but it remains a potent, transformative reference.

    The Establishment of Varieties in Coleus by Stout (ebook, Google Books) - pioneering scientific study of coleus clones, their markings, and inheritance. This classic is free courtesy of Google Books.

    Coleus Breeding by Dr. Bob Bors, Plant Science Department, University of Saskatchewan - best known for the breakthrough UNDER THE SEAŽ series.

    This "how to grow" section covers horticultural guidelines including propagation, water, soil media, lighting, pruning, pinching, repotting, pests/disease, fertilizing, mulching, and other topics. There are probably 12.9 million web pages with Coleus advice but the following is advice from the pros who know:


    The website offers thousands of Coleus images from around the world. There are three levels in these links:

    1. All "Coleus" search
    2. Group: Coleus
    3. Coleus Society by Larry Hatch images

    The discussion of cultivar groups in any genus, especially with the lack of a plant society or registrar for a century and half, is sure to be loaded with controversy and disagreement. To create the online form for our new International Coleus Register, we had to quickly decide on a set of group names, giving some synonyms, and make this clearer with the use of an illustration. Based on leaf morphology (primarily leaf shape) we selected these groups. The illustration below is simple and crude but we hope will due for the time being - until a artist can volunteer to assist us with this. Plates of real leaves will be coming to provide real life examples.

    Recent updates are marked in red below with the date of the change.

    • (xCP) Coleus x Perilla cross - 8.22.2015, recognized as a group, named xCP
    • (T) Traditional Blumei (ovate)
    • (W) Wide Blumei (broadly ovate or suborbicular-ovate)
    • (N) Narrow Blumei (narrow ovate or elliptic-ovate)
    • (Su) Suborbicular (coin-like, nearly round)
    • (Sa) Salicifolius (willow-shaped, very narrow, linear to narrowly lanceolate) - typified by the original 'Salicifolius' and today 'Butter Kutter' and 'Darth Vader', usually with 10-30 long sharp marginal teeth of variable sizes, often twisted, width:length ratio of 1:6 to 1:12 excluding petiole- amended 8.22.2015
    • (Se) Saber-Elliptic (narrowly elliptic to linear-elliptic to broadly lanceolate) - typified by the Claude Hope's original Saber series and today by popular clones like 'Velvet Mocha' and the FLAMETHROWER™ series. Not as narrow or willowy as (Sa) and here with a width:length ratio of 1:3 to 1:5 excluding petiole. New group accepted 8.22.2015
    • (F) Filiform (narrowly linear, thread-like) 
    • (A) Anemone-Fingered (Fantasia, rounded lobes)
    • (T) Trident-Forked (sharp lobes)
    • (C) Carefree-Oak
    • (WF) Wide Flat Oak (Quercifolius?)
    • (D) Duckfoot
    • (Mi) Minimalist (Toe-like or spoon-shaped)
    • (P) Petticoat (skirt, twirled-spiral)
    • (Mo) Monstrose (irregularly rumpled, deformed)
    • (L) Laciniate-Fimbriate (lacy, fringed, slightly to moderated incised (amended 8.22.2015), also undulate, frequently bilobate, occasionally trilobate) - proposed New Cultivar Group, proposed 3.26.2014, (typified by historical cultivar 'Verschaffeltii' and modern cultivars 'Peter Wonder' and 'Red Ruffles'). It is a distinct marginal variant of cultivar groups T, W, and N in most cases. It is based on 'Laciniatus' of the trade not var. laciniatus Miquel. Accepted 8.22.2015, split from the new Lacerate-Pinnatisect group
    • (LP) - Lacerate-Pinnatisect (highly incised, torn or lacerated, forming deep, distinct pinnate divisions). Differing from the Lacinate-Fimbriate which is also incised but have much deeper incisions at 50% or more of the distance from the margin to the midrib. This incision is typically 3-20% in Lacinate-Fimbriate. The blade may also appear to be lacerate or torn due to the extreme incisions and numerous divisions to tertiary and quarternary levels. 'Black Lace' and the old 'Pectinatus' typify this gorup. The margins may be bilobate, trilobate, or forked like (L). New group accepted 8.22.2015.

    Let's discuss some of the rationale for these choices and we then invite you to comment and make a case for other names. After the bigeneric hybrid, the first three groups are based on the classic Blumei coleus in it's traditional ovate shape and both narrow and wider variants of it. By the way, these can be fimbriated or lacinated (cut, incised) to various degrees or just crenate or serrate. Then the very round Suborbicular, most of which belong to C. rehneltianus - but not all! The saber or willow types are next and the oldest name in literature for these is Salicifolius. Filiform are very narrow, thready things. The deeply lobed types include those with bulbous or turbinate or anemone-like lobes. These have rounded lobes and the name Anemone-Fingered seemed right. The Pedley's use of the term Fantasia covers these but from their illustrations definately includes other leaf shapes including what we call Monstrose and Petticoat. Those with deep, pointed lobes, sharp and forward-projecting are called Trident-Forked. The oldest name for oak-leaved cultivars is Quercifolius but we do not good illustrations, plants, or images of what that old term meant. Claude Hope's breaththrough Carefree strain has spawned many similar clones of improved shapes and colors. These narrow, often grooved, rugose (rough, textured), and undulate oaks are called Carefree-Oak. The wider, less rough, flatter oaks are called Wide Flat Oak are probably whatr we called Quercifolius a hundred years or so ago. Duckfoots are short, reduced leaves with very few lobes compared to Anemone-Fingered but these two groups so overlap. Minimalist, for lack of a better term, includes unlobes simple blades in the ovate, obovate, toe-shaped, and even spoon-like shapes - a diversity of tiny blades that are often very variable. Petticoat seems to be an accepted term in the trade for skirt-like, twirled, or spiralled blades of which 'Tilt-a-whirl' is a perhaps example. Monstrose includes blades so variable, deformed, often blistered, rumpled, and misshapen they can be beautiful. They too have intermediates to the Carefree-Oak and Anemone-Fingered groups.

    This section will feature more technical, scientific, and academic resources involving Coleus genetics, breeding, and cytotaxonomy.
    Highly recommended are the following:

    Nguyen, Phuong Ngoc. 2007. Genetics, breeding, and molecular study of Coleus during growth and development. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Florida.

    Rife, David C. 1944. The genetics of certain common variations in Coleus. Ohio Journal of Science 44(1): 18-24.

    Rife, David C. 1971. Leaf shape inheritance in Coleus. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences 34: 187-190.

    Marcotrigiano, M. et al. 1990. Leaf color variants from coleus shoot cultures. J. Amer.Soc. Hort. Sci. 115(4): 681-686. (fascinating study of color and shape changes)

    Rife, David C. 1954. The purple allelic series in Coleus. J. Genetics 54(2).

    Nguyen, P. et. al. 2008. Genetics of growth habit and development of new Coleus varieties with trailing habit and bright color. J. Hered. 99(6): 572-580.

    In preparing the International Coleus Registration Form, we decided to follow some other societies in providing our own color chart to help standardize colors a bit or at least improve communication. Some people's purple is another man's lavender or another lady's violet. Those are very distinct colors when you study them using true color expert's material. Is plum the same as purple? Plums, the fruit, can be true purple. Traditionally however a plum-colored thing is violet-red or reddish-purple, not dark purple nor like grape soda either. Is lime the same as chartreuse? Not according to color experts who make a living in that field. Our simple chart follows.

    The industry standard in horticulture for years has been the Royal Horticultural Society's or RHS Colour Chart. Unfortunately it does not have enough colors for many genera and when it can be found in the larger, famous green-boxed edition it's usually US $150-275. At the New Ornamentals Society we use the Pantone Goe system with 2058 different colors and that can be had online (especially ebay) for $70-110. Today we find more than 200 US Plant Patents using the Pantone Goe system instead of the RHS because of it's greater range of colors and portability as one large fan. Five minutes with the Pantone Goe fan in a diverse garden (we sampled the 6000 taxa at the Raulston Arboretum and the 11,000 at Juniper Level Botanic Garden of Plant Delights Nursery) and one realizes why this color system is the international standard among graphic artists, designers, manufacturing planners, architects, marketing consultants, printers, and pretty much every other industry on earth. There's a darn good chance your favorite sports teams have their colors legally defined in Pantone PMS values with everything from uniforms to stadium seats specified in these Pantone chart values.

    The species of Coleus are named many different things and separated variously according to how general or specific the author wants each species to look.

    We like the Flora of China key very much and this is a helpful place to start for the eight taxon seen there.

    The biggest question we need to address besides the basic nomenclature is WHAT WAS COLEUS BLUMEI ANYWAY?

    Firstly, we may never know. I have studied old specimens in virtual herbarium around the world but none of course preserve colors let along pigment patterns. The leaf shapes we do know are quite variable as are the marginal teeth - not as many crenate examples as found in classic Rainbow types today.

    One place to start is with old, botanical illustrations in journals know for limited artistic license, precise morphology, and accurate colorizing. Yes, they did paint the old volumes by hand back then. Curtis Botanical Magazine Volume 79 of 1853 is about as accurate an example as we can get. The plant came from Mr. Clapton of Low's Nursery, England by way of Belgium and originally from Java. Was this thing a garden plant and heavily modified or selected? We cannot be sure but early cultivars mostly did have the dark red center and lime edges as the plate below shows.

    In other images of the time and the next few decades, suggest the first introduced C. blumei had this same red and green bicolored look. Some had a smaller red suffusion or smudge in the center and others had finer reticulations or burgundy where the red and green met. Those with big, uniform red hearts were of course preferred in the trade and made up the early breeding stock at RHS Chiswick and with William Bull. The famous early clone 'Verschaffeltii' is merely a very undulate, more fimbriated genetic spin on this same red-hearted, lime-margined theme.These were typical of early introductions to Europe but not necessarily typical of wild variations in the 19th century.

    Another logical question is WHY DO OLD COLEUS BLUMEI HAVE SHARP TEETH?

    The "base" cultivars we have today, notably the so-called Rainbow Strain do not seem to be typical of the early introductions of the species. The plate above is a very dramatic acuminate (sharp apex) blade with massive serrate teeth, hardly the round, tiny crenated teeth of so-called base or standard material today. From studying old herbarium vouchers and many old illustrations, I believe you have both serrate (sharper teeth) and crenate (softer, rounded teeth) in wild populations and different parts of the range, let along local gardens, favor one morphology over the other.

    Let's look at this fascinating sample of a herbarium voucher at the New York Botanical Garden. It was said to be Coleus blumei var. laciniatus Miquel. It was collected by the Wilkes Expedition in the Philippines between 1838 and 1842. It is thought to be the type or oldest designated specimen for var. laciniatus Miq. - which may or may not be similar to the garden var. laciniatus of the early trade.

    Now this is a departure from the typical C. blumei we have today! It is sharply and jaggedly toothed and with a much narrower blade. Since then botanists tended to lump var. laciniatus with the species as part of it's normal range of variation. In horticulture we see much more importance to this local morphology.


    'Wasabi' (Ball Flora)

    Premium Coleus for 2013

    Coleus Breeding at the University of Florida (Dr. David Clark)

    Let's begin with the major university trials that work often with Coleus. Not all trials including AAS Trial Gardens grow enough Coleus to be useful.

    The Establishment of Varieties in Coleus by Stout (ebook, Google Books) - pioneering scientific study of coleus clones, their markings, and inheritance. This classic is free courtesy of Google Books.

    Exotica 3: Pictorial Cyclopedia of Exotic Plants by A.B. Graf (book, Amazon) - this massive, thick tome covers more tropical and indoor plants than any printed book today and is loaded with Coleus plates (mostly black and white) and helpful history and descriptions. It is no longer just for libraries with the former $200-300 pricetag and can be bought for $35-50 most of the time. Check ebay too for low priced used copies.

    Coleus: A Guide to Cultivation and Identification by Ken and Roy Pedley (book,Amazon) - the 1974 classic loads with history, leaf shape illustrations, photos, and enormous amounts of cultural advice on everything from greenhouse product to making Coleus trees.

    Coleus: Rainbow Foliage for Containers and Gardens by Ray Rogers (book, Amazon) - very useful modern study with lots of color plates and good descriptions to 225 cultivars.

    This section covers some useful terms to describe the world that is Coleus, primarily those of a precise, scientific nature.

    The purpose of cultivar registration requires clarification and is not often explained. Firstly, it fosters international communication or development of a community informed about the names in a given genus. This prevents (or at least limits) the occurance of clones given the same name as well as the creation of imposter or misnamed nursery stock. Did someone else alreadsy use my proposed name of 'Golden Magic' or 'Scarlet Delight'? Coleus books and general websites will not inform us with any degree of confidence. Sadly, Coleus Finder, once our Bible for names, has not been updated since 2008 and much has occured since that year.

    Secondly, registation with a central portal lets us all know about the state-of-the-genus or what other collectors, breeders, and experts are doing and what progress they have made. Whbat are the new breakthroughs in leaf shape, color, landscape durability, flowering, and other valued traits. COLEUS CENTRAL™ already has more than 800 hours of research from the editor and New Ornamentals Society volunteers. Our budget is limited but a low four digits has been spent to get to our 2014 position - with lots more coming to this page. Most of you, we suspect, cannot take that much time so cultivar registers represent a resource it would be hard for nearly all of us to create at home. However, any great registration project is going to need people who breed, grow, and collect Coleus to inform our shared community whether registering anything or not.

    Thirdly we must state that while registation "establishes" a name in the international trade, it provide no legal protection of the name as does a plant patent, plant breeders rights license, or registered trademark. This process is one of international communication, documentation for future Coleus scholars and breeders, and education of horticulture students for generations to come.

    There is no Coleus registrar or International Cultivar Registration Authority (ICRA) under the worldwide system managed by the International Society for Horticultural Science. While the New Ornamentals Society is not currently seeking sanction or grant of authority under the ICRA program, we have suffcient internal resources and expertise to take on a Coleus Register using the same principles of the ICNCP or International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants. Mr. Hatch, Director of the NOS and Horticultural Taxonomist for this project, co-authored the directory of cultivar checklists that appears in the Appendix of the 1995 ICNCP and is very experienced in documentating cultivars that many ICRA consult in the form of the New Ornamentals Reference Library.

    We thank our partners through the truly stunning web service for helping us create a flexible, very versatile registration form that accepts image and file uploads, Google Maps of your nursery or trial garden, and submission of data that exports to a true database and analytical (statistics, metrics) console.

    While the ICR is outside the ICRA (ISHS) system, we do ask all  registrants to follow the cultivar naming guidelines of the Intenational Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). These are summarized as:

    Cultivar names:
    1. Must be approved of by the originator 
    2. Cannot be in Latin - if you use an unregistered trademark (TM) Latin is allow ('Viridis Laciniatus' is not allowed but VIRIDIS LACINIATUS™ is)
    3. Should be a unique word or phrase not used before in the genus
    4. Must not be confused with an existing cultivar or series (ie. Mosaik is easily confused with Mosaic)
    5. Must not exaggerate the value or merits of the plant, especially in the future (ie. no 'Greatest of All' nor 'Biggest Red')
    6. Should be short, expressive, and clear
    7. Must never be the same as genus name, either Latin or common (no 'Mint' nor 'Betula')
    8. Must contain more than just numbers of a single letter
    9. Must not contain punctuation including commas, periods, hyphens, extra spaces, or special characters
    10. Should not be too general so the word or phrase is readily use elsewhere (no  'Red Leaf' nor 'Gold Center')
    11. Must not contain any of these banned words: variety, cultivar, selection, hybrid, group, mixture, selection, sport, grex, improve, or broom
    12. Should never be offense for their content, including in other languages - I think of the plant breeder who named everything for famous porn stars and their movies
    13. Must have the permission of any living person , especially if a well-known person, politician, or celebrity. 
    14. Must not falsely state an association with an existing cultivar if no connected or with that originator's permission (no 'Giant Wasabi' or 'Bone Fish Baby')
    15. Should never used the trademarked or service mark of a leading company, product, or service (no "Mickey Mouse', 'Coca-Cola', nor 'Velveeta')
    As stated above, if you want to use an unregistered trademark for your new cultivar, it does not have the above restrictions in general. However, companies will sue in a second if you put their trademarked name on a commercial plant. When using a trademark it is not a bad idea to name a cultivar name with it such as ROCKY MOUNTAIN RED™ 'Rockred1'.

    • Our interactive form is easy to use with color and leaf leaf charts, so give it a go. If that doesn't work for you then try....
    • Your local university with a horticulture, botany, or agriculture department should have an expert, usually a horticulturist specializing in ornamental plants or a plant taxonomist who can assist you in preparing the information. They can work with us at at any time. Also consider a local nursery, botanical garden, or arboretum for skilled professionals. Some of these experts may be interested in promoting your discovery - and may want to provide scientific documentation (herbarium voucher, photos, garden trials), and assist with marketing the new Coleus from their nursery or garden. Just ask.
    • We offer a higher level of assistance to ICS members. Our society experts will complete 100% of the form for you if only do all of these steps (no exceptions) 1) provide a digital JPG image of the mature new cultivar, 2) send a living plant to the NOS/ICS Trials and allow us to evaluate it, and 3) tell us the complete history of the cultivar's origin, your plan's for introducing and marketing it, and any patent or trademark goals.

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    WHY SOLENOSTEMON IS WRONG by Laurence C. Hatch, Horticultural Taxonomist

    I will not fault some authors and growers from going with the newest, trendy name of Solenostemon for Garden Coleus; but I wonder one thing? Why don't they accept the rest of new taxonomy associated with the mints that makes about as effective a case? Why go with one rename and not the forty others which affect our garden plants? I think it stems (at least in part) from the "one up" game that so many horticultural pseudo-gurus play among themselves and the general design and gardening public. "Haven't you heard? That's the old name...the correct name (which makes me better than you) XYZ." How silly and petty for all these early adopters of the preliminary and oft shallow work of overly ambitious taxonomists; who try to "one up" their colleagues for similar reasons. Ask one of these early adopters of radical nomenclatural systems the scientific basis for these changes and they'll fumble about for five minutes or quickly find a reason to change the subject. Don't try to "one up" us folks unless you know why and can be very, very convincing.

    Now that I have said these persons need to know why  and be convincing, I am now obliged to say "why not" and give you a convincing case:

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