Not crying over ‘Alligator Tears’

I always thought it was “crocodile tears”–and indeed, it is in Shakespeare, who in both Othello and Henry IV Part 2 references the reptile’s use of false crying to lure tenderhearted victims close–before snapping them in two. But the company I trial-garden for, Proven Winners, has named a new coleus ‘Alligator Tears’ instead. Turns out the actual name is Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Alligator Tears,’ which is one heck of a mouthful, much like a tenderhearted victim. But I don’t much care what they call it, so long as it goes on giving me long season color, which this baby sure did. The planting directions touted “exceptional branching and heat tolerance.” Sure enough, the plants grew big and bushy without any pinching on my part (because, well, I mean well, but I just don’t remember to pinch, as the spindly five-foot-tall mums in my side yard more than prove). And in this summer of truly dreadful heat here in Eastern Pennsylvania, these coleus didn’t just survive; they prospered. True enough, I had them planted in containers–one on the front porch, one on the back patio–that I watered just about every day. But while almost all my other container plants browned out in the heat, to a lesser or greater extent, these coleus didn’t. They grew tall and thick and lush-looking, and the dark green/light green combination was eye-catching in both sun and shade. And now, to crown things off, they’re bearing pretty purple blossoms. If I were the sort of gardener who took cuttings and rooted them, I’d do that with these. Hell, considering how tough they were, maybe I will!

But I won’t move them inside. No more moving semi-hardy annuals indoors for the winter. I know what happens—what always happens. Can you say “leaf-drop”? Can you say “spider mite”? Sure you can!

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners®,



  1. October 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    […] can be grown as a houseplant or as a garden plant: do you know coleus Alligator Tears? Some infos: […]

  2. July 12, 2013 at 5:08 am

    I came across this plant in a supermarket and appreciate the detailed info. Much obliged

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