Colored nettles, fascinating foliage plants for the garden and the house

Coleus are best known as houseplants. With an endless variety of leaf markings, the robust plants have delighted generations. You can easily make cuttings from colored nettles and thus keep young plants again and again. Or you can buy colored nettles in spring and plant them in the garden or balcony boxes as an attractive structural plant. Whether in mixed plantings with other balcony plants or as a solitaire, the species, also known as Coleus, is extremely decorative and easy to care for. Colored nettles are not hardy, but can be overwintered well. The mint coleus is not related to the stinging nettle, but has the same nettle-like smell of the plant sap.

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Matching products – Buy colored nettles

Worth knowing about colored nettles

Botanical name: Solenostemon scutellarioides, syn. Coleus blumei
Other names: Coleus, Coleus
Use: Structural plant, balcony plant, indoor plant, for containers, borders, balconies, terraces or grave planting
Origin: Tropical Africa and Asia
Flowers: inconspicuous
Leaf color:

different shades of green in combination with red, orange, yellow, brown
Special features:


The ornamental leaf plant can easily be propagated by cuttings. Head cuttings placed in water will root within a few weeks. Avoid too much direct sun and drought. The ornamental plant likes humus-rich soil with an even water supply in a sunny location.

In which location does the coleus feel most comfortable?

The structure plant prefers a partially shaded and warm place. From mid-May you can plant the plants, also known as Coleus blumei, outdoors. It is important that the structural plants are protected from late frosts. Direct sun can cause burns, so a hot south-facing balcony is less suitable. Optimal are locations that are bright and evenly moist. Colored nettles do not develop as well if the soil is too dry. If you want to enjoy the species for several years, planting in a bucket is an option. Make sure that the pot is in a bright place from October to April at temperatures above 15 °Cand never dries out completely, even in the cold season. Planted in the garden, the colored nettle is not hardy.

How do I plant my coleus in the garden?

From April you can buy colored nettles. Planting out is only recommended after the last late frosts. If planted earlier, protection with fleece may be necessary if the night temperatures are low. Colored nettles are ideal for planting out in borders, in the cemetery and in containers. Coleus blumei need well -drained soil with a pH of around 6. Before planting, make sure that the bed is well loosened and that all weeds have been removed. In heavy loamy soils, you should incorporate sand as drainage, because waterlogging is not tolerated. For light sandy soils, it is important that you improve the soil with compost or good quality potting soil. A location that can store water and nutrients well is important for the foliage plants. If the plant is left in the culture pot, the development of the bedding plant is hampered and flowering is restricted.

How do I water, fertilize and care for my colored nettles properly?

Ensure an even water supply immediately after planting. It is important that there is never waterlogging, as the roots are sensitive to it. However, the balcony box, the bed or the pot must not dry out completely. The water requirement depends on the temperature, the radiation, the size of the plants and the volume of the soil. On hot days, it may be necessary to water the potted nettles every day. Planted in the ground, watering every 2 to 3 days is sufficient. Colored nettles outdoors can be decorative until September. As soon as the temperatures drop below 10 °C, the ornamental foliage plants suffer. Colored nettles are not hardy, but can get throughhibernation for many years to be an ornament on the balcony. Coleus plants are undemanding, apart from sufficient water supply and regular fertilizing, no further care is necessary. A cut in stinging nettles causes them to branch out better. Flowers can be cut off after they have faded. Fertilize the Coleus blumeii with liquid fertilizer every 1 to 2 weeks from the end of May. Make sure that the soil never dries out completely after fertilizing. Spraying in the early morning promotes the vitality of the plants, it is important that you do not wet the leaves with water in the blazing midday heat.

Our gardening tip: You can also use long-term fertilizer sticks for individual pots. If there is a lack of fertilizer, the color of Coleus leaves becomes less intense.

What is the best way to propagate stinging nettles?

The colored nettle can easily be propagated by cuttings. To do this, cut about 8 to 10 cm long shoot tips (head cuttings) from vigorous plants. Make sure the cuttings have 3 strong pairs of leaves. For rooting, either place the cuttings in a glass with water or plant them directly in the growing substrate. For bushy plants, it is important that you regularly remove the shoot tips on the colored nettle cuttings. The so-called pruning stimulates the plants to form new side shoots. Within a few months you will receive a large number of young, vigorous plants through the propagation of cuttings. It is also possible to propagate Coleus by seed. Note that coleus seeds are so-called light germinators. That is, the seed must not be covered with soil. After sowing, you should regularly spray the coleus seeds with a water spray and with a little patience, the first germination successes will be visible after 3 to 4 weeks.

Sowing of colored nettles

Cuttings of coleus

How do I overwinter my coleus?

Colored nettles can be outdoors until September. The leafy beauties are not hardy. Temperatures between 18 °C and 24 °C are optimal for Coleus. If the temperature drops below 15 °C, growth stops and the leaves can wilt or drop. Coleus blumei in pots can be overwintered in a bright spot indoors. Begin bringing the colored nettle to its winter quarters in good time. Temperatures above 15 °C are important when Coleus overwinters. By pruning, you can overwinter the plants to save space and the cuttings can be easily removedraise young plants for next year. Colored nettles planted in the ground can be cut back by half, dug up and planted in pots. Overwintering is a way to enjoy the ornamental foliage plant for years without having to buy new coleus.

Our gardening tip: Spraying the plants is particularly important during the winter. Dry heating air leads to leaf damage and promotes infestation by pests.

How do I plant my colored nettles in a container?

Colored nettles are ideal for planting in large containers or balcony boxes. It is essential for the development of the ornamental foliage plants that you repot or plant them immediately after purchase. Colored nettles can only develop magnificently with a larger volume of soil and care is easy to manage. It is important that the vessels have a water drainage hole and that they are combined with plants that have similar soil requirements.

Planting Coleus in 4 steps:

  1. Place the pot of the coleus plant in a bucket of water and wait for no more air bubbles to rise.
  2. First put a drainage layer in the pot, bowl or window box. This prevents waterlogging. Make sure the water drainage hole is clear.
  3. When planting the colored nettles, only use Kölle organic potting soil or Kölle’s best peat-reduced potting soil. The soil should be structurally stable and be able to store moisture and nutrients well.
  4. Water the freshly planted coleus well and place the container in a light, shady spot. Our gardening tip: Make sure that the colored nettles in the pot are always kept moist and that you fertilize them regularly. Planted in the ground, the effort required for care is slightly lower than for specimens in pots.

    Which pests and diseases can the colored nettle get?

    Coleus blumei is hardy and not susceptible to pests and diseases. Problems can arise from a too humid location, drought or too low humidity.

    white bow tie

    The sucking insect sits on the underside of the leaves. The sucking activity is indicated by yellow sucking points. The affected leaves dry up and fall off. The pests also produce honeydew, on which sooty mold grows and turns the leaves black. A good biological control is to catch the flies with yellow stickers or with targeted use of beneficial insects, the parasitic hatchlings.


    Coleus nettles are more susceptible to aphid infestation, especially in phases with less light and less growth. Rinse the plants thoroughly with water at the first infestation. This measure usually helps.

    spider mites

    Spider mite infestation on colored nettles occurs mainly in hot summer periods or in winter quarters with dry heating air. The main damage caused by spider mites is light-colored leaves that gradually dry up. To prevent spider mites, you should therefore ensure that the humidity is as high as possible. Spider mites can be successfully combated with beneficial insects.

    FAQ — Frequently asked questions about coleus

    What is suitable for combining with Coleus blumei?

    All summer flowers that have similar demands on the sun, the soil and the water supply are ideal for the combination. Good partners are Busy Lizzies, Plectranthus, Elfspur, Bidens, Petunias and Geraniums. The structural plants can also be combined with hardy plants or evergreen plants.

    When do colored nettles flower?

    On Coleus blumei, inconspicuous flowers can appear above the foliage from June. The typical lamiaceae are reminiscent of a sage blossom. It is ideal if you remove the flower in good time so that you do not put unnecessary effort into seed formation. The ornamental value of colored nettles is the extremely decorative leaves and not so much the flower.

    Are Coleus Plants Poisonous?

    Colored nettles are slightly poisonous. Allergy sufferers in particular should work with gloves when cutting and planting to avoid skin irritation.

    Can the stinging nettle be kept as a houseplant all year round?

    The ornamental leaf plant can easily always be in the house. Being outdoors promotes leaf coloration and vitality of the Coleus plant. Make sure that you don’t move your coleus outside of the house until mid-May. It is important to gradually get used to the outdoor conditions in order to avoid unsightly burns on the leaves. The coleus is a houseplant, but also a seasonal plant for the balcony and garden.

    How do colored nettles grow bushy?

    Especially with self-propagated Colus plants, it is important that you regularly remove the shoot tip. Without the so-called trimming, the colored nettle does not grow as densely and with fewer shoots.

    Are colored nettles suitable for the balcony box?

    Colored nettles in balcony boxes loosen up plantings with flowering plants in particular. The structure of the ornamental leaf plant results in interesting arrangements.

    Why does the coleus lose a lot of leaves?

    Low temperatures or too much water are often the cause of leaf fall in Coleus blumei.

    How big does a colored nettle get?

    Depending on the variety and location, the height of colored nettles varies between 30 and 60 cm.

    Are there different species of colored nettle?

    Breeding and selection have resulted in a large number of varieties. In addition to the classic yellow and green tones, there are varieties with red, pink or dark brown leaves.

    Balcony plants for shady locations
    Find out in the blog post which balcony plants are suitable for shady locations.

    Balcony plants for shade

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