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The family of luciferous. Homeland Java island, Africa, Asia, Australia. The exact number of natural species of this genus is unknown, we know only one single species (about it below). The name Coleus is obsolete, it was used earlier, now some species are attributed to the genus Plectranthus Plectranthus (for example, Plectranthus rotundifolius previously belonged to Coleus, very similar in appearance, but completely non-decorative). But most of the Coleus we are used to are correctly called Solenostemon.
Salinostemon (Coleus) resembles nettle in appearance, only without thorns and beautifully colored. Therefore, the people call Coleus decorative nettle. Coleus are herbaceous plants with erect, ribbed stems. Leaves are opposite, ovoid, pointed at the end, crenate (rounded notches) or serrated along the edge.
In culture, hybrids of the Scutellaria-like Solenostemon scutellarioides are common - a synonym (outdated name) - Coleus Blume Coleus blumei or Coleus hybridus. Stem erect, ribbed, tetrahedral, plant height up to 80 cm. Leaves are opposite, ovate, pointed at the end, wavy or toothed along the edge. The leaves are finely pubescent, usually variegated: green, pink, yellow, black (deep dark purple), maroon, cream, almost white or red. The inflorescence is a complex ear of numerous small flowers.
The name of the genus Solenostemon comes from the Greek. solen - tube and stemon - stamen, due to the fact that the stamens of Salinostemon are fused at the base into a tube. The name of the species scutellarioides - comes from the name Scutellaria Shlemnik - a genus of plants of the same family of lamines, inflorescences, flowers and leaves in some species are very similar to Coleus. Salinostemon is, first of all, an ornamental-deciduous plant, a huge work aimed at obtaining many varieties of Solenostemon scutellarioides or Solenostemon x hybrida, differing in a variety of leaf colors, opens up wide possibilities in garden and greenhouse design. Moreover, the shape of the leaves also differs in variety from a simple "nettle" - the crenellated edge of some varieties has become strongly split, the leaves look almost feathery (for example, variety 'Kiwi Fern').And in the 'Tilt-a-Whirl' variety, the leaves have a completely unimaginable fan shape, slightly twisted in a spiral, somewhat reminiscent of a bird's wing.
To somehow systematize the many varieties of Coleus, there are series that include dozens of varieties, for example, the popular Superfine Rainbow Series, Wizard Series, Giant Exhibition Series, Colissima Series, Stained Glass Series, Wizard Series, Kong Series, Versa Series, Fairway Series and others. Within the series, the names of varieties can be repeated, for example, in the Fairway series and in the Kong series, there is a variety called Mosaic, but these are different varieties, with multi-colored mosaic spots. For some of the varieties sold, the series is unknown. It should be borne in mind that sometimes leaves of different varieties are quite changeable with age, for example, in the photo below, the variety 'Gay's Deligh' on young leaves only has purple veins (dark purple), in old leaves not only veins - the central part of the leaf from the petiole becomes purple … Other varietieswith the age of the leaves, the depth of the notches along the edge changes.
Salinostemon or Coleus is grown both as an indoor and as a garden plant. Features - fast growth, large leaf mass and undemanding care. Salinostemons look spectacular in flower beds or borders, correctly selected varieties, planted in a certain order, allow you to highlight color accents, create colorful compositions.
Temperature: normal in summer, room temperature, although in general, Coleus prefers a moderate temperature range from 18 to 22 ° C, the hotter the weather in summer and drier the air, the faster Coleus grows and stretches. From the heat, the leaves in the lower part of the stems quickly dry out and fly around, the plant loses its decorative appeal. In winter, temperatures are preferably cool, around 15 ° C, i.e. such that there was no plant growth. Winter minimum 10 ° C.
Lighting: Coleus is photophilous, bright color of leaves is possible only in good lighting. Requires bright diffused light, shaded from direct sunlight in summer during the hottest hours of the day. Ideally, direct sun should hit the plant in the morning before 11 o'clock or in the evening after 15-16 o'clock in the afternoon. These are east or west (northwest orientation) windows. You can place Salinostemon on the south window, but under the shade. And here it is not so much the direct sun as the heat that is dangerous - on the southern and western windows the temperature rises above 40 ° C. Therefore, on hot days, it is better to rearrange the plant in a cooler place.
Watering: in the summer, the Coleus is watered abundantly, the leaves droop from drying, then dry out. Therefore, the soil in the depths of the pot, where the bulk of the fibrous roots, should be slightly damp all the time, but the top layer of the earth should have time to dry out before the next watering. In autumn and winter, watering is reduced, its frequency depends on the temperature, but the earth should dry out in the upper half of the pot.
Fertilizers: regularly from March to September, Coleus is fed with fertilizers, once a week - ten days. You can alternate mineral fertilizing with organic (preferably horse manure). By the way, despite the fact that Coleus is a decorative deciduous plant, the color of the leaves is richer and brighter, if it is fed with fertilizer for flowering plants (fertika-lux, uniflor-bud, pocon for flowering plants, etc.).
Air humidity: Coleus loves humid air, but does not need spraying during the growing season. Only dry air in a warm room in winter is harmful to the plant, therefore, if Salinostemon hibernates in a room, it must be isolated from the directed warm air of the battery.
Transfer: annually in the spring. Soil - any nutrient mixture, Coleus is not picky about the composition of the soil, the acidity is from slightly acidic to neutral, but not alkaline. You can take 3 parts of garden soil to it, add 1 part of well-rotted compost and 1/2 part of sand and vermiculite. Drainage must be poured onto the bottom of the pot or container (for example, large expanded clay or foam). If the soil is too compacted from watering, periodically loosen the soil.
Salinostemon is a fast-growing plant, but its disadvantage is that it also grows quickly and ages. The stem lignifies, first of all, in the lower part, gradually becomes bare, the plant loses its attractiveness. Abundant flowering also contributes to this - it depletes the plant. Since the flowers are not at all attractive, it is better to break out the peduncles immediately.
Salinostemon is a perennial plant, but one bush is usually not grown for more than two years - this is impractical (only young bushes are beautiful). Of course, you can drastically cut the old Coleus in the spring, and the hemp will form young shoots, but in this case, when transplanting, the trunk must be buried a little into the ground, and the lower part of the root ball must be cut off.
Reproduction of Coleus
It is easier to renew the plants annually from cuttings or grow from seeds. Cuttings 7-10 cm long are cut in February-March or autumn. You can pre-soak them in a root solution, then put them on rooting in clean water. When the roots appear (after about 7-14 days), the cuttings can be planted in small peat cups with a diameter of about 8 cm (2-3 cuttings can be together, but in 10-12 cm cups), in leafy soil or universal soil. When the cuttings grow to a height of about 15 cm, their tips need to be pinched so that the plants branch better. 2.5-3 months after planting in peat cups, Coleus can be planted either in a garden, in a flower bed, or in a larger pot or container. Coleus is planted in the garden only when the threat of spring frosts has passed and the daily temperature does not drop below 10-12 ° C.
Coleus from seeds
Coleus seeds are sown in March in wide boxes, with a step of 5 cm. In a mixture of peat soil and sand in equal parts. The seeds are lightly sprinkled with earth, moistened with a spray bottle and covered with foil or glass. Now it is necessary to maintain uniform soil moisture, avoiding excess moisture, and regularly ventilating. Shake off condensation when removing the film. Seeds germinate at 22-25 ° C. Shoots at the Coleus are friendly, therefore, as soon as the leaves of neighboring seedlings begin to touch each other, they must be cut into pots with a diameter of 8-9 cm. Place the pots in a bright place with a slight shade from the sun.
Salinostemon or Coleus can be affected by spider mites (contributes to a hot, dry climate, especially in winter). It is necessary to look for the pest immediately if you notice that the leaves have begun to turn yellow (especially at the tops of the shoots). On variegated leaves of mite coleus, or their thinnest cobweb, can be found on the back of the leaf. You can fight a tick only with acaricide preparations.
Sometimes Salinostemon can be affected by mealybugs - they form white cotton balls at the base of the stems, in the leaf axils. The pests need to be collected by hand, and the soil in the pot should be poured with the "Aktara" preparation.