The coleus, also called cretonne, is one of those plants that even the least fond of gardening immediately recognize that they have seen many times. It is a very easy-to-care-for species, widespread in many countries as an indoor plant.
If you want to know more about the characteristics and care of the coleuskeep reading in this article where we will learn more about this beautiful and resistant plant, ideal for beginners or amateurs without much time.
Characteristics of the coleus or cretonne plant
scientific name Solenostemon sp., the coleus is a semi-bushy plant that can reach up to a meter in height outdoors, but in a pot, as it is usually grown, it rarely exceeds half that size. Are tropical plantswhich have their origin in Southeast Asia, which is why they are treated here as houseplants, since they do not tolerate exposure to low temperatures.
The most striking thing about the coleus are its variegated leaves, with a velvety texture and highly appreciated for its great aesthetic and decorative value. Currently there is a large number of hybridizations and types of coleuswith different shades of leaves or different arrangement of these, and it is one of those plants that shines not because of its flowers, but because of its beautiful leaves.
These are not complicated care plants but, as always, if you want your plants to be as beautiful and healthy as possible, you will need to know what they need.
Climate and temperature for coleus
This plant, as with many other species of tropical origin, does not tolerate either low or excessively high temperatures, which is why it is almost always located indoors. However, if you live in an area with mild temperaturesperhaps you can grow it outdoors or, at least, take it out of the pot at certain times.
The coleus is in its optimal conditions at a temperature of around 20ºC, although it can withstand exposures of up to 10 ºC without too many problems. Only when it is carefully acclimatized can it resist exposures close to 0ºC, although subjecting it to this type of temperature is always a risk.
The best thing to do is always bring it indoors when the outside temperature drops to 10 ºC or below and avoid disappointment.
Location and light for the coleus
Light is probably one of the most important care for this plant, which needs a very bright environment and for many hoursbut whenever indirect light or with light filtered by suitable curtains. The ideal is to leave it near a window, but be careful that the sun’s rays do not reach it directly, with the added magnifying glass effect.
If you have a coleus with limp or dull leaves, it’s probably because it’s not getting enough light, while if its leaves look dry or burnt, it may be getting direct, intense sun.
It is also important to locate your pot in an area away from sudden changes in temperature such as near an air conditioner or a heater, as well as protect it from drafts.
The other key to caring for this plant is its irrigation. In this case, coleus irrigation should be measured but frequentwithout allowing the substrate to dry out completely, but also avoiding waterlogging at all costs.
In winter, on the other hand, it is better to let the plant come into vegetative restspacing out the frequency of irrigation so that the cold and humidity do not rot its roots either.
The coleus also needs a certain level of humidity, but we do not recommend spraying water on its leaves. Instead, it’s best to use the gravel bed method: place a saucer of water under the pot, and cover it with gravel or stones just enough so that the pot and its drainage holes are not in contact with water. In this way, the humidity will rise towards the plant without flooding the soil or affecting its leaves due to excess water.
Substrate and fertilizer for the coleus
The most important thing with the substrate of this plant is that it has a drainage as best as possibleso the universal mixture of coconut fiber, peat and earthworm humus in equal parts, with the addition of a handful of vermiculite and perlite, will work great.
Regarding the fertilizer, it is very important, and it needs a good supply of organic matter or liquid fertilizer during its growth period and the months of activity.
Prune and transplant
The only pruning this plant needs is the maintenance pruning once a year to remove the parts in poor condition, although, sometimes, it is also recommended to prune the flowers when it gives them, since they are not very pretty and thus save energy.
Regarding the transplant transplant a coleus This is not necessary often, although the plant is a fast grower, and if you want it to continue to gain size, you will need to do this every time it fills its pot, which will be often.
How to recover a coleus
A dull or badly damaged coleus will require a transplant to a new potsomething bigger, with nutrient rich soil and ones proper humidity levels. If your area is very dry, you can resort to the method of the plate with gravel and water under the pot, and thus you will not have to water as often, avoiding the risk of rotting its roots. If you do this and locate it properly, in just a few weeks your plant should make a quick recovery.
Here you can read more about How to revive a plant.
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