Coleus is probably one of the most popular landscaping plant species because of its many attractive varieties and low-maintenance requirements. Decorate your garden or indoor area with foliage in shades of green, purple, orange, and more in beautiful leaf patterns.
You can plant your coleus shrubs in pots or in the garden, where their foliage quickly covers bare soil. Plant various types outdoors to create a colorful garden that is easy to maintain. Also, Coleus plants make good fillers between other shrubs and are ideal for landscaping because they grow so quickly. New garden spaces can quickly be filled up with these attractive shrubs when a quick fix is needed.
Grow your coleus plant from seeds or cuttings. Seeds should be planted three months before the frost is expected to end in your area. Preserve your plants by taking them outdoors only after the danger of frost is over. You can also grow your coleus from cuttings. Simply cut off several stalks with their leaves and place these in a container with water. Roots should appear in days and continue to grow densely over the next month or two.
Though coleus plants need to be watered more often than other species, they also should not be over-watered, as this can encourage root rot and other diseases. Water indoor plants once a day and outdoor plants twice daily. Use a watering device with a slow drip if you are unsure about how much your coleus needs to survive, and test the soil regularly to make sure it is not overly moist.
Your coleus plant likes sunlight but not too much. Dull leaves indicate that the plant is receiving too much sun exposure and you should move it to a shadier location, if it's potted. Although some coleus species can handle more light than others, many prefer a combination of sun and shade. Plant your coleus outdoors where you know that they will receive the morning sun and afternoon shade for best results.
Select a large pot that will allow your coleus to grow in comfort. Choose a loose potting soil that is rich with good moisture content. Ensure that the pot has enough holes to support drainage, to ensure the water doesn't sit in the bottom of the pot, which can result in a dead plant. Any pot shape is suitable as long as it offers support for a balance between water retention and drainage. Plant experts recommend lining the pot with plastic to further enhance the health of the plants.
Specialists recommend a neutral pH soil for healthy coleus growth. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer sparingly for a nutrient burst to mature plants in the summer. Other than these requirements, your coleus should be pruned regularly and kept out of the wind to maintain optimum health.
Whiteflies and aphids tend to like coleus plants, and the mealybug is another pest to watch out for. Get rid of mealy bugs with an insecticide or alcohol, and purchase a trap from a nursery to manage whiteflies. Certain pests, such as aphids and spider mites, can simply be wiped off the leaves, though this can take a long time. Slugs and spider mites can be treated with pellets or insecticide sprays available just about anywhere you find gardening supplies.
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Common coleus diseases include downy and powdery mildew, two types of grayish-white fungus. Associated problems with coleus include damping-off, where the plant dies suddenly even while appearing healthy. Overly wet soil is typically responsible for this problem because it encourages fungus growth. High levels of nitrogen can also cause quick death in coleus plants. Root-knot nematodes cause knots on the roots from microscope worm infestations, eventually causing plant death.
Fungicides can treat powdery mildew, while many of the other problems can be resolved by maintaining proper plant care. Avoid overwatering or watering the plants from above. Space them well to allow for good airflow. Avoid planting in areas where worm rot is discovered for at least a year, and practice rotation planting to limit the spread of diseases.
Young coleus plants benefit from fertilizers with a high nitrate value, which promotes healthy root and leaf growth. Continue using a fertilizer high in nitrates to support mature plant growth. Urea or ammonia-based plant food tends to encourage a softer, rich growth, but always choose a fertilizer suited to the pH level of the water where you live.