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.