News flash: a new species of sea creature has been discovered in Saskatchewan. They are not prehistoric fossils from an ancient seabed or the contents of an aquarium gone wild. These exotic creatures were born and bred in a busy greenhouse at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
Their creator is plant professor Bob Bors who, along with his first-year horticulture students, set out to grow the world’s weirdest coleus—those purplish, reddish, greenish ornamental plants known for their vibrant and variegated leaves. After several years of cross breeding, he noticed a distinctly crustacean theme emerging. The coleus reminded him of lobsters, coral and crabs.
“I knew from the Internet that oddly shaped and frilly leaves were not normal traits in coleus, so we selected for those characteristics,” says Bors. “With each generation, they kept getting weirder and weirder.”
He posted pictures of his curious coleus on the Internet where they were spotted by several horticulture companies, four of which came to the university to see for themselves. A licensing deal was struck with Hort Couture of Litchfield, Michigan, which invented novel names for eight sea-inspired coleus such as gold anemone, molten coral, langostino and lime shrimp. This summer, Hort Couture is marketing the collection as “Under the Sea” to independent nurseries across Canada and the US.
You can read the full "Coleus by the Sea" story and see close ups of the coleus varieties developed at the U of S in the Summer 2012 issue by ordering a copy now. Call 1-888-861-8311 or email us or get the digital version of this issue.