Looking for a beautiful foliage plant? Looking for a inexpensive plant to add to your Garden? Looking for a small compact plant? Well the answer, as you know my friend, is coleus. Coleus are very vibrant, beautiful, colorful plants that bring in instant pop to any garden. It has a unique ability to both stand out and blend in depending on where you choose to place it.
The best part about is coleus is, I feel, its inexpensiveness. Its very cheap. (In India it normally costs around Rs. 20-40). So if you’re on a tight budget, think coleus. Also, they are very easy to grow from seeds or from stem cuttings. I’ll speak more about propagation in the second half of this post.
Though you may commonly seen them gardens, in beds (used as borders), they make excellent container plants. Coleus are cultivated as ornamental plants, particularly Coleus scutellarioides (syns. Coleus blumei, Plectranthus scutellarioides), which is popular as a garden plant for its brightly colored foliage. This plant prefers bright, but indirect sunlight. If direct sunlight touches the plant’s leaves, the colors become less brightly colored. Outside this plant needs total shade or only the most mild morning sunlight.
Timely pinching and pruning helps coleus stay foliage-focused. Coleus belong to the mint family, as evidenced by their squared stems, and have mint-like blossoms. But most gardeners don’t allow coleus to flower, because the blooms aren’t very pretty and hinder plant growth. Flowering signals it’s time for seed production, so energy shifts from colorful leaves to seeds. Using the area between your forefinger and thumb, pinch right where flower buds appear above leaf pairs or branches to remove buds and keep coleus on track. This also promotes more branching and greater fullness.
There are two ways to propagate coleus. Seeds are inexpensive and easily obtainable, though named cultivars do not come true from seeds. To germinate seeds, simply sprinkle seeds on the soil surface and press down. Seeds require light to germinate, so should not be covered. They may be kept moist by growing in a container covered with plastic, or by misting seeds daily. Sprouts can show color in as little as two weeks. Alternatively, cuttings can be taken. Cuttings root readily in plain water, without the addition of rooting hormone.