Many cultivars of the southeast Asian species Solenostemon scutellarioides have been selected for their colorful variegated leaves, typically with sharp contrast between the colors; the leaves may be green, pink, yellow, black (a very dark purple), maroon, and red (somewhat resembling the unrelated caladium). New cultivars with varieties of colors are constantly being made. typically grow 0.5-1 m tall, though some may grow as tall as 2 meters. Coleus are typically grown as ornamental plants.
- Species: Solenostemon (Flame nettle, Painted nettle Solenostemon scutellarioides)
- Depth to sow seed: 0"
- Days to sprout: 9
- Days to maturity: 52
- Compatible with Aerogarden? Yes
Cultivation and Care
They are heat-tolerant. They are not hardy and become leggy and unattractive with age. Though this is usually resolved by pinching back growing tips to encourage bushing. Coleus also make low-maintenance houseplants, and can often be propagated by clipping a length of stem just below the leaves and putting the stem in water to root. The plant’s flowers grow on a stem above that stem’s leaves, and tend to be purple and quite small in comparison to the leaves. The plant is not generally grown for its flowers, as it promotes stem elongation (remove to halt this).
Seeds are inexpensive and easily obtainable. To germinate, simply sprinkle seeds on the surface soil and press down. Seeds need light to germinate. Sprouts can show color in as little as two weeks.