The foliage is soft and somewhat surreal, albeit fragile. The flowers are nice for attracting a bunch of tiny pollinators zipping around in the summer sun, even if each individual flower doesn’t look spectacular. Growing multiple varieties creates a pretty wonderful assortment of color and adds a nice touch to a garden. Multiple plants also commonly leads to cross pollination and new plants springing up in the soil nearby. They grow quickly though, so the miniature sprouts can quickly earn their place. They can get pretty massive, however, so don’t give them full sun and a ton of water unless you have the soil and containers to hold them in.
Solenostemon scutellarioides (Coleus, Flame Nettle, Painted Nettle, Painted Leaf, Poor Man’s Croton)
Hardiness Zones: 10-11
Height: up to 0.9 meters (3 feet) tall
Diameter: up to 55 centimeters (22 inches) wide
Growth Rate: very fast in full sun and high amounts of water
Age: Usually lives for just one growing season, but these can grow for several years in select zones or inside.
Root System: no central taproot, spreads quickly
Subspecies: A LOT. There’s 500+ species that can be found at “www.coleusfinder.org/pictures.php”, and I am not spending an hour naming them all. I have grown “Versa crimson gold” specifically, which grew to a considerable size.
Tolerates: urban pollution
Problems (major): Do not leave in bright light without copious amounts of water. These plants often become root bound if given enough resources to grow quickly.
Problems (minor):Under ideal conditions, coleus can grow faster than they can be reasonably repotted. In full sun with a lot of water, mine grew too quickly and became root bound every few weeks.
Poisonous: not presumably
Soil requirements: Fertilizer not required in decent conditions. Keep soil moist; leaves quickly droop if the soil is dry.
Air Requirements: not sufficiently researched
Watering requirement: Very wet in full sun. Watering must increase as the plant is exposed to more sun. Good drainage is essential for success.
Sun requirement: In full sun, some varieties grow ridiculously fast. Other varieties prefer partial or even full shade.
Annual/Biennial/Perennial: annual, perennial in zones 10 and 11
Flowering: Flowering structures are tall with purple-white flowers. The individual flowers are inconspicuous, but the structures are notable and attract pollinators (usually bees).
In full sun and with sufficient water, coleus can grow extraordinarily quickly. Their foliage looks very nice, and the many different varieties are common in many gardening stores, like Alsip and Home Depot. They can be troublesome if they grow too much, but they require a lot of space and nutrients to do so. Planting five or six coleus in one container will very severly limit their individual growth, although this usually kills of one or two plants due to starvation.
Coleus are commonly planted as a city annual due to their resistance to pollution. They serve as nice ornamental and decorative plants.
This was the largest coleus is grew in the summer of 2013. It did become root bound in its container, which was about 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It became so large that I could no longer get it through a door without injuring it. It weighed between 40-50 pounds before frost killed it off.