Department of Horticulture New York State Horticulture Study Guide for Youth 4-H Logo


Flowers &
Indoor Plants

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Cornell University

Coleus; Flame Nettle
Coleus x hybridus
(kole-ee-us hi-brid-us)

Click on thumbnails for larger image.

What about it?

Coleus is a member of the Labitae or Mint family. It is a large family of over 150 species of shrubs and herbs thrivng in various climates around the globe. Mints may be either annuals or perennials but always have a square shaped stem. Coleus is a horticultural annual that will grow 2-3 Feet. It has oppositely arranged, toothed and variegated leaves. Flowers are dark blue or white with a lower lip longer than the upper lip.

What is it used for?

Coleus is grown primarily for its foliage. The multi-colored varieties do well as bedding or border plants, in window boxes and containers, and as a house plant. It is easily grown and propagated.

Where does it grow? How we grow it?

Coleus enjoys a moist, fertile, well-drained soil. Most types of coleus are very light sensitive and will easily sunburn. Coleus are also sensitive to the cold; do not plant until all danger of frosting has past. When it is warm enough to plant, remember that Coleus needs room to grow and place them 12" apart. Remove the flower "spikes" as they form.

What are its primary problems?

Coleus is prone to mealybugs, and slugs.

How do we propagate it?

Sow the seeds indoors 10 weeks before the last frost. Coleus will germinate in 10 days. Remember to pinch regularly to promote branching. Coleus cuttings can be overwintered as house plants.

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Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.