Growing Coleus Plants
Coleus: Eye-Catching, Brightly-Colored Foliage
Coleus plants show off their unsurpassed beauty when grown in masses. But these ornamental plants are not grown for gorgeous blooms but for their colorful foliage.
Their leaves come in eye catching hues and patterns: burnished copper, crimson, purple, maroon red, orange, yellow, and myriad shades of green. Other varieties come in contrasting colors and leaves may have scalloped or jagged edges. Clearly, if you want a nice accent into your home garden or interior design, Coleus plants can definitely do the trick!
Coleus plants belong to the mint family and grown in Nepal, India and Thailand. There are approximately 60 species of Coleus. Virtually, the origin comes from C.
Blumei species crossed with a few other species. However due to extensive hybridizing efforts within this group, there are thousands of cultivars available today. So if you want to grow Coleus in your garden, don’t stress yourself too much about its parentage.
The plant can grow from one to three feet and sprawl out to about three feet. Coleus plants are easy to grow, but this is not the only reason why Coleus plants are well-known all over the world.
For over 15 years, Scientists have studied Coleus and have discovered an abundance of benefits. They are not just prized ornamental plants with colorful foliage, but also provide medicinal uses, including body fat reduction and remedy for skin, lung, respiratory and heart problems.
Coleus can be propagated by cuttings or seed. Cuttings will give you foliage identical to the parent plant but if you want a new leaf pattern every time, grow Coleus by seed. In fact, it’s almost impossible to have two seedlings with exact leaf coloring or pattern. Read on to learn how.
- Use 3-4 inches deep planting medium with plenty of drainage. Plant the seeds by mixing them with finely screened peat. Another way is to sprinkle clean, dry sand over the seed bed.
- Using the palm of your hand, give the crest of the bed a gentle firming. Do not cover the seeds though. Moisten the bed with warm water without disturbing the seeds.
- Cover the top of the planting medium with cellophane or a piece of glass to conserve moisture. Punch holes in the cellophane or place a matchstick under the glass to provide ventilation.
- Put your planting medium in a warm and shaded location. The seeds need sunlight to grow strong. Keep the soil moist throughout the germination process.
- Germination will occur in about 10 days. Remove the covering as the seedlings grow. Transplant the seedlings as they start to crowd each other in the planting medium.
How to Grow Coleus
Growing Coleus is fun and easy, but there are few things to keep in mind regarding its growing conditions.
- Coleus love bright light but avoid direct midday sunlight. Excessive exposure to sunlight will wash out the colors in their foliage.
- Coleus plants prosper in fertile soil. Keep the soil moist at all times but lessen watering in winter. A wet environment especially during winter can cause Coleus plants to rot.
- The preferred temperature is above 60ºF in the summer and above 50º in winter.
- Fertilize your Coleus with slow-release pellets in spring or feed them with liquid fertilizer throughout the growing season. Organic fertilizers such as liquid food water or fish emulsion can be used in liberal doses.
Now, when the seedlings have at least 4-6 leaves, it’s time to showcase their rich color and velvety texture. It’s okay to grow Coleus indoors if you want to add a fresh feel into your home, provided that there is enough heat, moisture and humidity. So if you notice that your Coleus starts to shed leaves, then the place is probably too cold or too dark.
Many gardeners and growers encourage branching by pinching off growing tips when the plant is already 6 inches high. This can make your Coleus more sturdy and bushy. Moreover, it’s also advisable to snip off the flowers to promote vitality.
Coleus plants are not fussy and can grow well once they are established. They have few enemies though—the cottony mealy bug, aphids and whitefly. If your plant gets this problem, pull out the entire plant pronto and grow a new batch.