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Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides) is a genus containing a variety of plants that are often prized by houseplant owners for their vibrantly colored foliage. Colors include eye-catching combinations in shades of green, pink, red, yellow, maroon and more. These colors persist during all seasons, so this plant is a great option to help brighten up your home. Depending on the variety, the shape and size of the leaves can also vary, so there's one to suit everyone.
These plants are native to a number of areas along the equator, mostly in Asia, such as in the mountains of Indonesia. The genus was first described by the Portuguese botanist João de Loureiro 1790.
They became popular as a houseplant and garden bed plant during the Victorian era, when displaying exotic-looking plants was a way to show how cultured and wealthy you are!
Coleus plants like to be kept consistently moist, although you should be careful to ensure that the soil doesn't ever get overly wet. Too much water can lead to stem and root rot, which is why it's important to plant your Coleus in a well-draining soil mix in a pot that has drainage holes to act as an outlet for excess water to escape from.
In order to keep it happy, try not to ever let your Coleus dry out!
Note that Coleus do require overwintering, as they are very tender annuals and will quickly start to suffer if they get too cold. Luckily though, they can be propagated easily from cuttings, so it's simple to establish extra plants over the winter.
These plants actually belong to the same family as Mint, known as the Lamiaceae family. This family also contains dead nettle, which may be an explanation for Coleus' alternative common name: 'Painted Nettle'.
They can grow up to 30 inches (75 cm) tall and wide, creating a bush-like appearance. In order to encourage this bushiness, you may need to prune your Coleus every now and then.
Giving your plant more light causes its colors to become richer, so if you ever feel that your Coleus is starting to look a bit faded, try moving it to a sunnier spot in your home.