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Coleus

Coleus


C. blumei (common coleus)

CHARACTERISTICS:  Coleuses are prized both indoors and outdoors for their colorful foliage. Their leaves usually combine many shades of green, yellow, pink, red and maroon. The leaves grow 1 to 4 inches long, and the plants themselves grow about 2 1/2 feet high in a bushy fashion. Spikes of small pale lavender flowers appear in late summer.

HOW TO GROW. Coleuses do best where they get four or more hours of direct sunlight a day, or where artificial and natural light average 800 foot-candles over 12 hours a day, but they will grow fairly well in bright indirect light, such as that reflected from light walls. Night temperatures of 65° to 70° and day temperatures of 75° to 85° are ideal. Keep the soil barely moist at all times. Feed established plants every three months with standard house-plant fertilizer diluted to half the minimum strength recommended on the label, but wait four to six months before feeding newly purchased or potted plants. Repot overcrowded plants at any season, using 1 part loam, 1 part peat moss or leaf mold and 1 part sharp sand; to each gallon pailful of this mixture add 1 1/2 teaspoons of 20 per cent superphosphate, 1 tablespoon of ground limestone and 2 teaspoons of 5-10-5 fertilizer. Otherwise, use a packaged general-purpose potting soil. Coleuses grow rapidly; to encourage dense but not tall growth, pinch off stem tips at any time. Propagate from stem cuttings at any season. Common coleuses can also be grown from seeds. Watch for mealybugs and aphids.