Plectranthus: A Beautiful Flowering Shrub for Fall
If you’ve passed through Chapel Street Fountain Park or taken the kids to Hazel Parker Playground recently, you may have noticed an explosion of purple that has come in as summer has changed to fall. The plant responsible for this surge of purple is Plectranthus fruticosa ‘Purple Martin’, or Purple Martin Plectranthus. The genus Plectranthus is closely related to Solenostemon (Coleus) in the Lamiaceae family.
Purple Martin Plectranthus is native and a great selection for your southern Fall gardens as well as for use in container arrangements. Its rich green foliage and bountiful spikes of purple flowers in late summer and through the fall can liven up your garden or household containers. The preferred growing regions are zones 9 and 10, and has been known to completely dieback in inland and northern South Carolina regions (zone 8a). Its hardiness will be tested in the lowcountry (zone 8b) so it may need to be treated as an annual in outdoor gardens during an especially harsh winter. Purple Martin Plectranthus can grow to be 2-3 feet tall and prefers full sun or light shade. It’s important to be very careful when transporting, planting, and watering Plectranthus as it has very fragile stems that can snap easily.
The newly-planted Plectranthus explosion of purple can be seen near and far in the flower beds of Chapel Street Fountain Park, as well as lining the tennis court at Hazel Parker Playground.