Coleus: [Characteristics, Sowing, Care, Irrigation and Substrate]

The Coleus, cretonne or Solenostemon, is a beautiful semi- shrubby plant , native to Southeast Asia.

Very showy and striking due to its spectacular leaves arranged in pairs of intense contrasting colors, it can reach one meter in height outdoors, although in a pot it does not exceed 50 centimeters.


Choleic characteristics

  1. Botanical name: Solenostemon scutellarioides.
  2. Common name: Coleus.
  3. Foliage: Colei are from the Lamiaceae, or mint, family and have the familiar square stems and opposite leaves. However, the foliage offers a great variety, with wrinkled leaves, others elongated, and a vast combination of colors.
  4. The flowers : The tall, thin stems of the flowers are usually pruned before they bloom, to maintain the energy of the plant that leads to a bushy plant.
  5. Size when growing: Miniature coleus varieties grow only a few inches tall, and others can grow quite a bit taller.
  6. Sun Exposure: Light exposure depends on the variety. Old seed-grown colei do best in partial shade, but newer vegetatively grown varieties have their best color when grown in full sun.
  7. Soil pH: 6.0-7.0
  8. Zones: These tropical plants are hardy and fast growing . They are also used as indoor plants .
  9. Bloom Period: The plants will try to bloom intermittently during the growing season, but as already mentioned, the flower stalks are usually trimmed.

It is important to mention that it works much better in closed spaces , because the direct sun scorches its leaves.

Whatever its cultivation, the combination of colors of its serrated leaves is incredible, whose sculpted edges with very vivid tones, contrast with yellow and purple ; brown , green and scarlet; or the fabulous blue and purple mixes .

If the conditions that we will describe below are met, do not hesitate for a moment to cultivate and give a lot of love to this spectacular plant .


Temperature: Where to plant coleus?

A Coleus greatly enjoys stable ambient temperatures of around 20 ° C, but below 10 ° C it will begin to suffer, even though there are varieties that tolerate 0 ° C outdoors in winter .

Do not subject it to surprising drafts either because it will suffer a lot. The air conditioning in your home does not suit you either.

Luz: What needs do you have?

Sunlight must be diffuse, never direct, as has already been said. This aspect, along with prudent watering, is vital so that the plant does not get sick.

Substrate and Compost: How do we prepare the soil?

Loose, fast-draining substrates, along with a slightly acidic pH , look great on this plant.

Mixing a universal substrate base with heather or peat soil and a little good quality sand is great for its full development, because the drainage will work perfectly and you will never drown in water.

The pot, additionally, must have enough holes to guarantee rapid permeability. If not, root problems will arise that can well be avoided with these simple measures that prevent root rot.

Whenever possible, you should keep this plant beauty near a window or living room with excellent natural lighting.

And the compost ?

It is also very important to add a good liquid fertilizer to the irrigation water, with a periodicity between every 2 to 3 weeks. Apply it without exceeding the dose indicated in the instructions.

Another important stimulus is a pruning at the ends that makes it gain volume and at the same time saves energy, by eliminating excess stems that come out more and more each time. These can serve as cuttings that tend to root very easily, to multiply Coleus.

And it eliminates in autumn or winter some flower spikes that detract from its vigor and do not look good.


Irrigation: How to water and how often?

It does not require a lot of water for its maintenance. Once a week is enough.

In winter , heating can be your worst enemy. As in this season of the year it will suffer from the lack of humidity, it is preferable to place a saucer with water under the dough that it will absorb according to your taste, rather than water it constantly. Quite the opposite.

By these dates the waterings must be spaced or limited to every 10 days.

And in summer it is necessary to hydrate it with great care, because the substrate cannot dry out but neither can it get flooded. Always prevent its roots from rotting, constantly checking the permeability level of the substrate.

You are allowed to spray its leaves with water if the summer is very hot.

Contrary to many other plants, Coleus should not spray its leaves with water. You would damage them irretrievably.

Remember that the maintenance problems of this plant are due especially to errors in their care and to underestimate the fact that they are sensitive to different factors that, controlled, will not have negative consequences.

As long as sudden currents, excessive water in irrigation, very high or very low temperatures are avoided, and adequate lighting is provided, Coleus will maintain its spectacular appearance.


Choleic care

Although coleo plants love heat, they also need moist soil.

The soil shouldn’t stay wet all the time, but long dry spells will slow down plant growth, and the leaves will start to turn brown around the edges.

Mulch will help the soil retain moisture longer, but cedar mulch can be toxic to coleus, so don’t put it around these plants. Also, don’t let it touch the stems, as it can promote rot and hide slugs .

If you have rich soil, you may not need to feed the coleus at all. You will get the best color from the leaves of your coleus if you are careful with the fertilizer.

Did you know…?
For bushy plants, pinch off the growing tips when the plant is about 6 inches tall.

You can do this a few more times if you want, but after the coleus start to bloom, you will pinch the stems and get the same results as if you pinched the tips.

In addition to keeping plants trimmed, the only maintenance that is required is making sure they are getting enough water. Containerized beetles may need to be watered twice a day.


Choleus pests and diseases

The biggest pests outside are some animals, such as marmots or rabbits. If you can protect your plants early in the season, there will be other plants and foods that these animals will prefer to eat during the summer, and will leave your colias alone.

Colleus are not usually bothered by illness unless the weather turns cool and humid. If this happens, wait for signs of fungal diseases like mold.

If you grow them as houseplants, watch out for scales, whiteflies , and especially mealybugs. If these invaders appear on your coli, the best way to avoid them is to be vigilant. Once we have them installed, solutions such as neem oil or potassium soap can help you a lot.

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