Intro: Coleus is a colorful container plant for shadier balcony gardens. Coleus plant leaves come in shades of red, green, white and yellow. It can be grown underneath other taller container plants, such as a small tree in a container. Although most people grow this plant as an annual, you can bring it into an indoor garden in the winter and keep it pruned to keep it full and bushy.
Scientific Name: Solenostemon spp.
Plant Type: Perennial, but usually treated as an annual
Light: Shade to light. If the color is drained from the coleus plant's leaves, it is getting too much sun. If the coleus plant begins to lose its leaves, it probably is not getting enough light.
Fertilizer: To keep your coleus plant in its brightest colors, make sure to not fertilize too much. Provide a half dose of a water-soluble fertilizer on a regular basis (weekly or bi-weekly).
Temperature: The coleus plant grows best from 65 to 90 degrees, but it can survive down to about 40 degrees. This plant will not survive freezing temperatures, so overwinter your coleus plants indoors.
Pests and Diseases: Garden pests such as mealybugs, whiteflies, aphids, spider mites and slugs may attach your coleus plants. Coleus are generally resistant to diseases, but if you overwater your coleus, they may become susceptible to fungal diseases and root rot.
Misc. Info: This container plant often gets leggy, so pinch off the tops and deadhead flowers to promote bushy growth. The small flowers of the coleus plant are nothing special, but if you want to allow seeds to grow, collect the seeds and plant them – these seeds may surprise you with differently patterned coleus than its parent plant.