Plant Profile: Lemon Sherbet Coleus

Also known as

  • Coleus “Mt Carbine”
  • Plectranthus “Mt Carbine”
  • Coleus bellus
  • Plectranthus bellus

This plant profile is now also available as a on my YouTube channel. Watch it here

Growing conditions

  • Full sun/Part shade/Shade
  • Tolerant of most soils/prefers well-drained position
  • Indoor/Outdoor
  • Pots/Garden beds/Rockeries
A new flower surrounded by captured raindrops from recent rain.

Brush past the leaves, a faint lemon spritz slips through the air and teases the senses. Pick a leaf, lemon scent drifts lazily around the stalk and lingers on the leaf. Crush the leaf, lemon sherbet springs through the air and fills the senses and enlivens the garden’s soul! Compelling, invigorating… it’s hard to pass this garden wonder without taking a moment to release the enchanting scent into to the joyful air.

This rare and only recently described Coleus grows on the slopes of Mount Carbine in Far North Queensland. Like most Coleus species it’s relatively easy to propagate from cuttings. It can tolerate some cooler temperatures thanks to its mountain origins, but enjoys a warm summer with breaks from humidity. I put some in my very humid greenhouse but it didn’t thrive in the constant humidity and finally perished, rotting in the consistent moisture. Conversely, the cuttings I propagated on my desk at work in dry, air-conditioned low light flowered and lived happily in the vase I placed them in.

New season’s growth will naturally branch from the base of spent flower spikes.

Just a few months after I purchased my original plant, the vandals of the Australian bird community, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, descended on my garden and viciously pruned all my Coleus and Plectranthus species. This plant regenerated from the remaining stalk with vigour, suggesting it likes a good prune. That plant, two years later, has grown from a few inches and a single stalk to a tall, leggy shrub almost as tall as me. The only conclusion I can make is that I should have kept pruning it!

The first of the season’s flowers nestled at the base of the leaves.

In Autumn it begins to flower, slowly and subtly at first with tiny purple flowers appearing at the base of the leaves on recent Summer growth. By the end of Autumn it boasts long lasting showy spikes of blue and white flowers beloved by pollinators. Next season’s growth will naturally branch from the base of these delightful spikes.

The showy blue and white flower spikes are long lasting and beloved by pollinators.

As this plant becomes more well known, there are reports of people using it to flavour dessert syrups, teas and fruit salads. I am yet to explore its edible potential, being naturally cautious, but many in this plant family are edible.

Wishing you sensory delights in your garden,


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