Black Dragon Coleus

Coleus, How to grow

This remarkable plant comes in as many color variations as you could possible imagine. Easy to take care of and you can grow it like a small tree shaping it as you go for that Christmas tree look or abut anything you can  imagine.

rown as a houseplant, thriving in brightly lit locations indoors. Although it blooms and produces seeds readily when it is grown outdoors, Coleus is technically an annual, and will grow indoors as a houseplant for many years but will not produce flowers or seeds.

Plant outdoors in spring, after all danger of frost has passed, in a site with partial to full shade. Choose rich, well-drained soil with plenty of moisture, and be sure to add in a generous amount of compost at planting time.

Space plants 9 to 12 inches apart, depending on the mature height of the plants, which can range from 10 to 18 inches.

Pinching off the tops and clipping coleus flowers will encourage branching and a fuller plant and requires the plants be spaced further apart.

Help keep soil moist by adding mulch under the plant.

Fertilize every four to six weeks with organic fish emulsion or work in a slow-release fertilizer at planting time.

Starting from seed.

Start with a good potting mix or a similar medium about 2-3 inches deep in a tray or pot with good drainage. (deep, is better) Mix in a handful of peat moss or clean sand.

Place 2-3 coleus seeds over the planting mix. Push the seeds gently into the soil with your hand but DO NOT cover the seed. The seeds need light to germinate.

Place the tray or pot into a container of warm water. This method waters the seeds and soil from the bottom up without disturbing the seeds. Remove the pot or tray from the water once the soil becomes moist. Place a piece of cellophane or a raised dome lid over the container to keep moisture inside.

Because Coleus doesn’t like their roots disturbed we suggest starting them in small pots like a 2” square.

Place the seed container in a location that is both shaded and warm. If the soil becomes dry, place it in a container of warm water again. DO NOT top water as this will disturb the germinating seeds

Monitor the seeds for germination, which usually occurs about 10 days after sowing. The seeds need oxygen to grow so punch small holes in the cover once you notice sprouts emerging.

Transplant the seedlings when they have four – six leaves. Do so by carefully digging up the seedlings with a trowel and placing them in the ground or in bigger, individual containers. Coleus does not like their roots disturbed. Place them in holes that are about twice as big as their roots and then cover the roots with soil. After transplanting, pinch the top two leaves off of the coleus to encourage the seedlings to grow into sturdy, bushy plants.

Growing a Coleus “tree.”

Snip a cutting from healthy new growth anywhere on a coleus plant. Ensure the stem of the cutting is straight. Do not pinch the growing point.

Flower, Coleus Tree

Push the cut end of the cutting into a 2-inch pot filled with equal parts vermiculite and peat moss. Put the pot in a protected, partially shady location, and keep it moist until roots form in two to three weeks. Bottom watering will encourage the downward growth of the roots.

Fill a 6-inch or larger 8-10” (depending on how tall you want your Coleus tree) pot with quality, indoor potting soil. Insert a bamboo stake near the center of the pot, offset to one side by 1 or 2 inches. The bamboo stake should be the same height as you want the final height of the trunk of the Coleus and should be inserted to the bottom of the pot to help prevent the Coleus from toppling.

Remove the rooted plant from the 2-inch pot, and plant it in the center of the larger pot, close to the bamboo stake.

Tie the coleus loosely to the bamboo stake.

Place the coleus in partial shade in a protected location. Continue loosely tying the stem of the coleus to the bamboo stake as it grows. Do not remove any leaves along the stem at this time. Fertilize the plant weekly with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer, mixed at half the strength stated on the label.

Pinch the growing tip of the coleus when it grows just beyond the top of the bamboo stake. This will cause it to branch out, beginning the process of creating a canopy on your coleus tree.

Clip off the leaves along the trunk of the coleus after it begins growing new branches by clipping the growing tips of the branches in the canopy. Removing the beginning of leaf set number four, when each branch has three sets of leaves. New growth will continue from the junctures where the leaves grow from the stems, creating a thick, lush canopy.


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