Coleus are popular indoor and outdoor plants due to their colorful foliage. They can be grown bushy and compact, or they are sometimes trained on one stem to look more like a tree.
Coleus plants come in a range of colors from pale yellows and greens, to pinks and dark reds, and even dark purples that resemble black. Foliage usually shows a variegated leaf with contrasting shades, and the ornamental nature of the leaves is a great addition to any garden and a substitute for seasonal flower growth. Coleus plants may also be grown indoors in bright light.
Coleus plants are native to Africa and southeast Asia, including Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia. Today, they are grown all over the world by gardeners and plant lovers.
As a member of the Lamiaceae family, Coleus are related to mint plants and sages. Although they used to be known under the genus Coleus, botanists now classify coleus plants under the genus Solenostemon.
Coleus plants prefer average to good soil, bright light and regular watering. They may droop quickly when dry and need to be misted during times of heat. They are also sensitive to cold conditions and die off in frost or snow. Fertilize coleus plants and pinch any flowers off regularly to encourage leaf growth.
Coleus can easily be grown from seed, but this is a less popular method for propagation, since the plants don't come true from seed. This means that the new plant may not resemble the plant that the seeds came from. Instead, most plants today are grown from cuttings from older plants, which ensures that plants will have the same coloration.
Coleus have no special requirements for repotting. Transplant coleus plants each year or when the roots have filled the pot. New cuttings should root quickly.
- Coleus Care
- Guide to Houseplants
coleus, houseplant, variegated
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Amy Hengst is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area, with expertise in technology, education, and gardening. She's written about computer networking, IT Security, and also maintains a regular blog about computer ergonomics and alternative health. When not writing, she's out taking photographs or zooming by on her bicycle.