Solenostemon (coleus)


A striking evergreen foliage plant. Grown for its bright colourful leaves rather than its tiny insignificant flowers. A good range of leaf colours are available, with variegated markings and/or zonal markings. Although a tender perennial, it is usually grown outside in the UK as a half hardy annual. It can also be grown all-year-round as an indoor houseplant.

Family: Lamiaceae (mint family)

Botanical Name: Solenostemon

Common Names: Coleus, Flame Nettle, Painted nettle

Foliage: opposite pairs of broad to narrow, coarsely toothed, ovate leaves (nettle like). In bright hues of pink, red, maroon, yellow or green. Variously margined, blotched, marbled or veined.

Flowers: small tubular, dual-lipped flowers, in spike-like clusters. Best removed to encourage further leafy growth.

Flowering Period: Summer.

Soil: Moist but well-drained good garden soil (clay, chalk, sand or loam), any pH.

Conditions: likes a sheltered sunny site or dappled shade. Grow in a south or east facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Tender Perennial.

Origin: Africa and Asia.

Hardiness: H1c - grow outside in the summer or under glass in winter. Protect from temperatures below 5°C.

Planting and Growing Solenostemon

A very versatile plant, which provides a good summer show in flower beds, borders, pots and containers. Ideal for edging or bedding schemes. Makes a splendid backdrop for other flowering plants. Dwarf varieties are suitable for window boxes and small pots.

A good impact can be greated with either a group of mixed colours or a spread of similar colours.

Grows well in both sun or dappled shade. Plant outside once all danger of frost has passed, in a moist humus-rich, well-drained soil. Spacing 1ft (30cm) apart. Pinch-out the growing tips and remove flower buds when they appear to encourage more bushy growth.

Grow indoor plants in a good loam compost, in bright to moderate light. Keep moist and at temperatures above 13°C.

Taking Care of Solenostemon

Water regularly during dry weather and water container grown plants daily. Apply a general purpose, high nitrogen, liquid feed weekly or use a slow release form.


No pruning necessary. Pinch out growing tips to make the plants more bushy.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest and disease free.

Propagating Solenostemon

Propagate from softwood cuttings in summer, or sow the seeds in early spring under glass.

Popular Varieties of Solenostemon Grown in the UK

Numerous cultivars and several good mixed seed strains are available. A number of popular hybrids have been developed from Coleus blumei, in both single and mixed colours:

coleus mixed seed

Coleus 'Wizard Mixed'

‘Dragon’ large serrated leaves in reds and maroons, edged with gold. Height to 1ft (30cm).

'Fairway’ delicate neat foliage. Height from 8 to 10in (20-25cm) .

‘Fashion Parade’ mixed shaped leaves in shades of pink, gold, jade and scarlet. Height to 12in (30cm).

‘Mini Coral’ dwarf variety with various leaf colour combinations. Height to 6in (15cm).

‘Molten Lava’ carmine to plum-red and black. Height from 9 to (12in 23-30cm).

‘Pineapple Beauty’ yellow/green leaves with rich maroon markings. Height from 12 to 18in (30-45cm).

‘Rainbow Mix’ has range of bright colours. Height to 18in (45cm). Seeds are available from Sutton Seeds.

‘Rose Wizard’ has cream, bright green and pink foliage. Height from 10-12in (25-30cm). Good for hanging baskets.

'Scarlet Poncho’ has maroon leaves with yellow edging. Height to 1ft (30cm). Good for hanging baskets.

‘Wizard Mixed’ in a range of bright colours. Height: 12-18in (30-45cm). Seeds available from Thompson & Morgan