There are plenty of ways to discourage these feline visitors from using your garden as their own personal toilet and it will be a case of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t for your local feline population, and this includes Coleus Canina.
When looking for cat deterrents to keep those pesky cats away from your outside spaces an obvious choice is to look for plants that cats won’t like and will actively avoid. There are plenty of plants that you can sow throughout your flower beds to deter cats from using your beautiful pristine garden as a toilet
One plant that is often bought for its cat repellent reputation is the Coleus Canina. But what is it? Does it work? And how do you grow it? Well, we’ve answered these and more in our extensive guide to Coleus Canina:
What Is Coleus Canina?
An impressive name for any plant but this isn’t actually its real or original name! The name for this plant is actually Plectranthus Caninus which is a member of the mint family and this plant has the familiar look of many mint plants.
In fact, this plant has a complex history to its name, much of which has now been lost in the mists of time with it being unclear exactly how and when this plant originated. It is now known by many names including Coleus Canina, Plectranthus Caninus and The Scaredy Cat Plant to name just a few. The most popular thought on where this plant came from is that it is native to Southern Asia and Eastern Africa.
Coleus Canina is a plant most noted for the smelly aroma it has that gets worse when touched or brushed up against. Along with its distinct, unpleasant smell, this plant has other distinctive attributes such as it’s grey-green leaves and small violet or blue flowers, making it a pretty addition to any garden. But it is the unpleasant smell that is the reason many gardeners find it so attractive. It has long been considered that the smell is unpleasant to cats, dogs and other small animals and could help to keep unwanted animals from spending too much time in your garden. Especially those local felines who love to roam about your garden.
It is because of this cat repellent traint that the plant has earned itself the nickname of the scaredey cat plant.
How to Grow and Look After Coleus Canina
This plant is one of the easier to grow plants, buy as plants and plant them about two feet apart or grow them from seed in a greenhouse and move to the garden when they are ready. These are a semi-hardy annual plant that will do well in most gardens and can often even thrive when left alone. However, they don’t like the colder temperatures or frost so they may not survive the colder months which is why they are considered an annual.
Make sure you wait until the temperature remains above frost levels until you move the scaredey plant outdoors and they should do well throughout the warmer months. When it comes to the weather cooling again you could move the plant into a greenhouse or grab a quick cutting from it which should root easily in a greenhouse so that you have new plants ready for Spring or for when the frost-free weather appears again.
Once you have a thriving plant outdoors then you can help it along a little with food and water but these plants are used to harsher climates so don’t overdo it. The Coleus Canina is used to living and growing in tropical climates so make sure it has either a partially sunny spot or a spot with only a little shade. The plant won’t thrive if the soil is too soggy so be careful not to overwater. Make sure the soil gets the time to dry between waterings. This can be helped by providing good drainage when you plant it.
Does Coleus Canina Deter Cats?
This plant earned its nickname the scaredy-cat plant down to the many gardeners that swear by its pungent odour for keeping pesky kitties away from their garden but there is little research into how much of this is true or not. Some cats might dislike it and avoid your garden completely, others may just avoid the areas in which you keep it and unfortunately it may have no effect at all on other cats.
As with many methods for keeping cats away from your garden, not every method works on every cat so it can be a matter of trial and error to see if this plant will keep away the felines who love to frequent your garden. With a little luck, the cats in your neighbourhood will take a strong dislike to the smell of this plant and will be discouraged from your outdoor areas. If not then there are still plenty of other options you can try including gadgets and other plants that may work.
Why Do Cats Dislike Coleus Canina?
As mentioned before not all cats will take a dislike to this plant, but for those that do, it is the distinctive and pungent smell that is so off-putting. The smell could be described as skunk-like or is also thought to resemble dog urine so it is easy to understand why small animals would dislike the aroma of this plant! The smell increases whenever the plant is brushed up against or touched which could act as an extra deterrent for cats or other small mammals from stalking through your borders and flower beds.
Whilst the smell might be unattractive to many, this plant is a great addition to borders with its attractive violet-blue flowers. You could plant these in a pot and move them around the problem areas of your garden where your feline intruders like to visit or use as a toilet. If the areas they choose keep getting invaded with a scent and plant they dislike they will soon move on. Having them in a pot also makes it easy to move the plant somewhere warmer in late autumn and winter which could keep your plant away from the frosty temperatures that kill it.
Where to Get Coleus Canina?
This is a relatively easy plant to get hold of.
Many garden centres sell it as small plants ready to plant straight into your garden in the spring. They are often named either Coleus Canina or The Scardey Cat Plant so look out for either name. If you want to have a go at growing these yourself from seeds you can also buy seeds from many garden centres or online from Amazon.
Make sure you grow these indoors in a good quality potting soil. Keep them watered and within a few weeks, you should have a few baby plants that can be replanted outside once the temperature remains above frost levels at night.
Don’t forget that whilst this may work for some cats it may not get rid of your feline problem completely so mix this with other cat deterrent methods for best results. Coleus Canina is also not the only plant you can try for deterring cats. We’ve written a complete guide to which plants repel cats which is worth reading over.