Learning the intricacies of growing coleus plants with their flamboyant foliage either indoors in pots or outdoors in beds would give you an edge over your neighbors and friends when they decide to visit and observe the efforts that you have put into making your garden and home a vibrant and colorful place.
Coleus is an annual plant if they are left to the vagaries of the weather and especially in freezing temperatures would be difficult to sustain and wither away but are perennial if you could safeguard them by bringing them inside in extreme weather conditions.
This two faced advantage is what makes Coleus that special and in some ideal weather conditions would grow very well and would sustain for a long period of time.
Coleus plant can be considered endemic to lands where an average year round temperature of 32 degrees Centigrade or 90 degrees Fahrenheit is made available to it and would grow with very rich colorful foliage in a vibrant spectrum of colors ranging from red, green, yellow, purple, orange and a splash of eye pleasing colors in a splendor of patterns to any beholder.
The Coleus plants are non poisonous and non toxic to humans but could cause allergic reactions in dogs and cats with diarrhea or vomiting if they are either exposed to or eat the leaves of the plant.
Coleus in Pots
Depending on space availability you could either grow one Coleus plant in a 4”/6” pot or you could also plant about 3 to 4 plants in a 10”/12” pot with an abundance of drainage holes.
The pots should be filled with optimum quality adequately drained potting mix which must have plenty of organic material added on with a few water crystals to keep the plants well hydrated on hot dry days, some good fertilizer would be helpful too.
Coleus in Ground
Prior to planting Coleus in the ground growing it in a 4” pot would be suitable and once it has developed a good root system in about two weeks transfer to the identified ground.
Coleus from Seeds
Coleus seeds are available in mixed form which when grown would give a variety of colors and sowing the seeds in a pot containing good pot mixture and damp soil and placing it in a warm bright place but in the shade the seedlings would sprout out in 2 to 3 weeks.
Water the seedlings until they have about 2 to 3 sets of leaves and then either grow in other pots or transfer to the ground.
Coleus prefer Sun or shade
They would need optimum light to bring out the best foliage but avoid continuous and sustained Sunshine as pigmentation could occur to protect its leaves and with that discoloration could happen.
Early morning Sunlight but protection from high noon and afternoon dipping Sun would be just what it would need and if placed indoors choose the most appropriate location where light would be indirect.
Verandahs with partial shade just right for it would be the best to bring out the vibrant colors that it is blessed with the right colors maintained at all times.
In some areas they could provide very bright and intense colors than if the high Sun and if you would want to keep it in the Sun then you would need to get the placed acclimatized to that weather and should have a good root system.
If discoloration occurs then immediately shift the plant.
Watering the Coleus Plant
They thrive in good moist but not soggy soil and during hot summer months regular watering may be necessary but do not water excessively and also they should not let to dry as it could wilt.
If it wilts water it immediately and give it life also frequent wilting due to lack of water masy not be very good for the plant and brown spots would appear on the foliage.
Watering at the roots and not on the leaves as this could increase fungal infestation and placing mulch around the roots would help but it must not touch the stem to stop rot.
Keeping the plant indoors would need daily misting in the morning as humidity needs to be controlled which is less than required and common in most houses.
Fertilizer for Coleus
Ideal would be the slow release fertilizer which is available in liquid or other forms and regular feeding is necessary to bring out good vibrant foliage.
Pruning and Pinching Coleus
Pinching would make the plant bushy and doing it when young would help and if it overgrows it would get tightened inside the pot and the top weight could topple it.
Mid-summer pruning would help to keep the plant healthy and avoid Coleus to bloom too heavily as it would need to produce seeds for propagation too.
Pests of Coleus
Disease resistant is good when it is provided with the right amount of water, light and air circulation whilst Mealy Bugs may be common, White Fly, Aphids, Spider Mates, Fungus Mites and slugs along with a few more parasiters are common.
Each of these pests are attracted to the various colors on the Coleus foliage and their propagation could be avoided by placing fine granulated gravel preventing them from laying eggs.
Mixing a teaspoon of dish wash liquid soap to one liter of water and spraying it all over the plant including its leave4s would stop these pests.
Diseases of Coleus
Water early in the day which leaves the plant and the leaves dry by evening and avoid excessive wet soil, providing a cool temperature and poor air circulation would invite powdery mildew, botrytis and also stem rot.
Excessive wet soil, cool temperature and poor air circulation invite fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, botrytis and stem rot.
Extract all dry dead leaves from the soil and dead stems and try some effective fungal spray with one teaspoon of baking soda, two teaspoons of vegetable oil and a few drops of dish washing liquid soap.