Growing Guide
plant thumbnail


Annual Flower, Houseplant

Also known as Flame Nettle, Painted Nettle, Painted Leaf
Solenostemon scutellarioides
Lamiaceae Family
Synonym: Coleus blumeii var. verschafelltii, Coleus x hybridus

Excellent as a border in shady areas or interspersed with shade-tolerant perennials that bloom for only a short time. Coleus commands attention with brightly colored, boldly patterned leaves in shades of red, orange, yellow, green, pink, purple, and white.

Site Characteristics
  • part shade
Amount of sun can influence foliage color.

Soil conditions:

  • requires well-drained soil
Prefers moist but well-drained soil, high in organic matter.

Special locations:

  • outdoor containers
  • indoors as a houseplant - Make cuttings or dig plants before frost to overwinter inside. Needs a warm, bright location, and consistent moisture.
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 0.5 to 3 feet

Spread: 0.5 to 3 feet

Bloom time:

  • mid-summer
  • late summer

Flower color: inconspicuous

Foliage color: variegated

Foliage texture: coarse

Shape: upright

Shape in flower: inconspicuous flower

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • non-aggressive
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Native to Java.
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed, cuttings - Start from seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost. Do not cover, as the seeds need light to germinate.

Easily grown from cuttings, which can be taken at any time of the year, but best in late summer for winter indoor growth, and late winter/early spring from indoor plants for outdoor summer growth. Use young, non-woody stem cuttings, which can be rooted either in potting mix or in water.

Despite general variety uniformity, coleus seeds do not produce identical plants. If uniform plant type/color is desired, start plants from cuttings.

Germination temperature: 70 F to 75 F

Days to emergence: 7 to 14

Maintenance and care:
Pinch off flowers as soon as they appear to keep plant compact and bushy. Regularly pinch back tips to keep bushy. Keep moist but not wet. Expect Coleus to be one of the first plants killed back by fall frosts.

More growing information: How to Grow Annuals

Leaf spot
When choosing varieties, look for different colors and variegations, including light and medium green, red, maroon, yellow, cream, orange, yellow, peach, pink, white, and purple.

Variations in leaf types include: ruffled edges, entire (smooth) edges, and toothed edges. Cultivars also varying in height.

‘Carefree’ Strain: compact plants that branch without pinching. Lobed leaves come in a variety of color combinations. Good container plant.

‘Sabre’ Mix: elongated leaves are tapered like sabres, hence the name. Dwarf. Good in shade and part shade.

‘Rainbow’ Strain: very colorful leaves in a wide variety of color combinations. Plants are very uniform.

‘Wizard’ Series: heart-shaped leaves in a variety of green, bronze and red/pink combinations. Doesn’t require pinching, and branches from the base. Many plants in the series have yellow tones. Dwarf (10” tall).