Velvet Nights- a Beautiful Giant Dark Coleus, Solenostemon Scutellarioides
Coleus is normally used as an indoor flower, but they can also be used outside in many different ways, both as solitary and in plantations where you want to add some intense colour! I have found these plants very useful and I use them indoors during winter and outdoors during summer. The colors and unique design are outstanding and can add that little extra to any arrangement. This plants are not shy, and no matter where you plant a coleus, you create fiery colors, exclamation and plants that stands out! Create a trendy arrangement of flowers in dark purple, trendy lime, or why not use all the colors in the rainbow!
Origin and background
Coleus is a Perennial hurb to half shrub that branches out easily. In nature it can be about meter high. Coleus is originally from Southeast Asia.
The main feature of these plants is the leaves! They are have magnificent colors and are also available in many different colors with very beautiful patterns.
Good light conditions will give the most beautiful leaves, however, they shouldn't be standing in full sun light either because to much sun light will burn the leaves easy. The best place for them is in shade with good light.
Coleus is an easy plant to grow and requires lot of water during the summer. A practical tip is to mix in water storage crystals (Swellgel) in the soil. That will keep the soil moist longer and the plants can accommodate a very hot summer day without constant watering. In the winter, water more sparingly. Plant nutrient should be given once a week from spring to autumn.
During winter, keep the plants in a place that is bright and a little cold, but not under 10°C. After winter, in early spring, crop the plants hard and replant each year. You can also take cuttings during the end of the summer. I have found that these cuttlings can usually pass the winter better than an older plant.
If you grow coleus just for the sake of the leaves you should remove the flowers in order to get best result. If you let the flowers remain and bloom, the colour of the leaves will bleached. If you crop the plants in the top they will also branch out more easily and you will get a thick and big Coleus. Cropping is done above a pair of leaves.
Coleus tend to be almost free of vermin, but can sometimes suffer from green aphids and white airmen but also spinning an mildew are present. The biggest problem here is that coleus is sensitive to spraying on the leaves. The leaves gets spots fairly easy and can also become black around the edges which will eventually make the leaves fall of. If the infestation of aphids is mild, crush the visual bugs between your fingers and give the plants a shower with water. You can also use water against a mild attack of whitefly, but the treatment have to be repeated several times during a few days. Spin and mildew thrives when it is dry. It is therefore a good idea to put a little effort in increasing the humidity around the plants.
Coleus can multiply from seeds and are very easy to multiply also by cuttings. Seeds should be sown fairly early in the season as they take long time to develop. Cuttings can be taken from spring to late autumn. Make the cut under about 6 leaves and then take away the lowest leaf pair. The reminding plant should be about 7-15 cm. The cutting will grow easy in water but you can also plant the cuttings in small pots of soil for seeds, preferably with the addition of perlite. Roots are usually formed within two weeks and then it can be planted in a pot with planting soil. When coleus starts to grow properly, it goes fast. Be prepared to replant them into larger pots, at least once and maybe a few times. Keep in mind that the size of the pot controls how big the plant will be.
My personal favorite is Coleus, Velvet Nights, Solenostemon scutellarioides "velvet nights", with impressive large dark velveted leaves. The flowers are light blue in the form of spikes and it bloom during a long period if you let them.
The Black Dragon has intense red leaves with black edges, and it is really eyecatching and very beautiful.
Deep toothed, frilled leaves in different colours with sharp patterns. Very useful if you want bright colours.
Coleus Canina Laminacae
Coleus Canina Laminacae has grey-green leaves with clear edges and the pale blue flowers is said to have a smell that is disliked by cats! It´s real name is Plectranthus caninus but it is sold under the Coleus Canina, so therefore I mention it here. Other name is "Scaredy cat plant" or "piss off plants" Many garden owners have problems with cats and would like a more human way to get rid of them. I have not tested this myself, so I can't really say if it works. My brief investigation shows that there are many different opinions regarding if this plants actually scares off cats or not. My opinion is that every cat is unique and different from another, and it may work with some cats, but not with others. These herbs are easy to grow so it will not be to much trouble trying. The only thing to remember is that all coleus needs a frost-free winter and the scent from the plant can be objectionable indoors. Personally I like cats, even though I don't want cats in my plantations!
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© 2010 Christina Lornemark