Known today as Solenostemon scutellarioides, but usually offered in the trade as Coleus blumei, this plant is cheap and easy to grow. These qualities, along with its brilliantly colored foliage, have made it a popular, if fairly short-lived, houseplant.
The toothed leaves are usually ovate or heart-shaped, although some varieties have lanceshaped, or interestingly lobed or contorted foliage. The square, fleshy stems are typical of the mint family.
Spikes of small blue flowers are often produced, but these are rather insignificant and detract from the foliage, so they are usually removed.
Foliage colors vary from green with yellow markings to intense reds, brilliant yellows and oranges, deep maroon, and brown. Leaves may be edged or veined with contrasting colors or simply splashed with several different colors; some varieties have no green on the leaves at all. No wonder the plant is also called the painted nettle.
If winter temperatures drop much below 55°F/13°C, leaves may wilt And Fill
Lower leaves fall in poor light, or if the plant is short of water
If aphids attack the soft young foliage, spray with insecticide or soapy water, or pinch off and destroy the affected shoot tips.
Pinch off the stem tips occasionally to keep plants bushy, and remove flower spikes as soon as they appear.FACT FILE
ORIGIN Tropical Africa; Asia.
HEIGHT To 2ft/60cm.
POTTING MIX Soil-based.
REPOTTING Move the plant into a larger pot as necessary during the growing season.
PROPAGATION In spring by seed or stem cuttings. In late summer by cuttings.KEEPING PLANTS Discard the plant when it becomes leggy.
Coleus blumei Labiatae FILAME NETTLE PLANT CARE
- Bright light with some direct sun is essential for good leaf color; intense summer sun will scorch the foliage.
- Moderately warm rooms, with a minimum of 60°F/16°C.
- Keep the soil evenly moist at all times, using lime-free water if possible.
- Mist the foliage regularly.
- Liquid-feed every 2 weeks during the growing season.