Posts Tagged ‘Painted Leaf’

Solenostemon scutellarioides

Common name: Flame Nettle, Painted Nettle, Coleus, Painted Leaf, Poor Man’s Croton, Jewels of the Garden

Family: Lamiaceae

Synonymous: Coleus blumei
Coleus blumei var. verschaffeltii
Coleus hybridus
Coleus pumilus
Coleus scutellarioides
Coleus verschaffeltii
Ocimum scutellarioides
Plectranthus scutellarioides

Solenostemon scutellarioides

Solenostemon scutellarioides

Distribution and habitat: Solenostemon scutellarioides is native to south east Asia and Malaysia. Growing to 60–75cm (24–30 inch) tall and wide, it is a bushy, woody-based evergreen perennial, widely grown for its highly decorative variegated leaves. It has been assiduously hybridized over the years into a very large number of vegetative propagated and seed propagated strains with an almost infinite number of leaf color combinations including most colors of the spectrum except true blue.

Description: Although Solenostemon scutellarioides plants  are perennials, many growers treat them as temporary foliage plants, to be enjoyed and then discarded when past their best. This is because they are sometimes difficult to overwinter and also because they are easy to grow from cuttings. Their soft, rather thin leaves very considerably in shape, size and colour (which can be almost any shape of yellow, red, orange, green or brown or a mixture of three or more of these). Solenostemon scutellarioides plants have opposite leaves and blue to lilac colored flower spikes. Such flowers as they produce have little decorative value and are best nipped out when they are still developing; this procedure will help to keep the plants bushy.

Solenostemon scutellarioides is the only species of Solenostemon commonly grown as indoor plant. Some of its forms have hart-shaped leaves and others have slender, sometimes contorted pendulous leaves. Young seedlings only 2-5cm (0.8-2 inch) high, but already showing their true colour, can be bought in spring and these may grow into 60cm (24 inch) tall plants in one season. Named hybrids of this species are also frequently available.

Houseplant care: All Solenostemon scutellarioides should have their growing tips nipped out regularly to help them remain bushy. The flowers are best pinched out before they form to keep the plant in good shape.
If the plant is kept for a second season, prune it back to about one third of its original size in late winter or very beginning of spring.

Light: Provide bright light at all times – including several hours a day of direct sunlight, if possible. Insufficient light will result in spindly growth.

Temperatures: Solenostemon scutellarioides do well in warm rooms. In temperatures above 18°C (64°F), though, the air should be humidified by standing plants on trays of damp pebbles or moist peat moss. If the temperature is allowed to fall much bellow 13°C (55°F) leaves are in danger of wilting and dropping down.

Watering: These plants should be watered plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist. If the mixture is permitted to dry out even for a short period, the leaves of Solenostemon scutellarioides will collapse; and although plants may appear to recover fully when they are watered once more the lower leaves will probably still drop off.

If the plant is being kept over winter then reduce watering and keep this plant on the dry side.

Avoid getting the velvety leaves wet. Hard water will cause white spots which cannot be washed off. Always use room-temperature water when watering these houseplants.

Feeding: Apply a liquid fertiliser about every two weeks throughout the active growth period.

Potting and repotting: Use a soil based potting mixture. Young plants should be moved every two months into pots two size larger. Solenostemon scutellarioides should not be underpotted; they need room for their active roots to develop freely.

Gardening: Solenostemon scutellarioides plants are frost tender, so in most climates, they are grown as annuals. They are heat-tolerant, but they do less well in full sun in subtropical areas than in the shade. In mild areas (no snow in winter), plants can usually be kept as perennials if well managed. In colder areas, they are often grown as annuals, since the plants are not hardy and become leggy with age.
To keep the foliage lush, pinch out flower spikes as they develop. Pinch plant stem tips to keep plants compact and to promote bushiness.
Harden the seedlings off before planting them outdoors. Solenostemon scutellarioides plants should not be set into the landscape until the minimum outdoor temperature is 10°C (50°F).

Location: Plant Solenostemon scutellarioides plants in partial shade setting. In hot areas, the colors of the plant are likely to be more intense when it is planted in shaded areas rather than in full sun. Also, the plants will require less water in shaded than in full sun position.

Soil: Solenostemon scutellarioides prefers fertile, evenly moist, well-draining soil. It is adapted to chalk, clay, clay loam, loam, loamy sand, peat, sandy clay, sandy clay loam and sandy loam soils.
Plant them 30cm (12 inch) apart in rich, moist, well-drained soil preferable with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH.

Irrigation: It requires an evenly moist well-drained soil for optimal growth, but will die in standing water. If the soil is allowed to dry out, the foliage will wilt, but normally will recover quickly when water is provided. Water your plants thoroughly at planting time.
Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone over the growing season to conserve soil moisture. The mulch will also help to heat up and retain the heat in the soil, thereby helping the new plants to get quickly established.

Fertilise: Feed these plants with a liquid fertiliser once a month.

Propagation: Young, freshly rooted plants overwinter much better than older plants. Tip cuttings about 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long taken in early autumn will root easily either in the standard potting mixture or water.
If started in water, they should be moved into the potting mixture when roots are 5-8cm (2-3 inch) long. Cuttings started in potting mixture will normally root in about two weeks if they are kept in a warm, brightly lit position, without direct sunlight. Water the cuttings enough to make the potting mixture moist, but allow the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out completely between waterings.
Seed propagation is also possible, but they will not come true from seeds.

Problems: Usually problems appear as the result of incorrect treatment of the plant.

In hot, dry rooms red spider mites can cause discolouration and leaf withering.
Treatment: Wash off any heavy infestation of red spider mites under the tap. To prevent an infestation of these pests it is important to provide a humid atmosphere around the plants and to spray the plants with water occasionally.

Leaf fall indicates that the plant is in a poor light position.

Straggly growth may also be sue to poor light or it may occur as a consequence of failure to pinch out the growing tips.

Recommended varieties:
Solenostemon X ‘Brilliancy’ which has crimson-red leaves that are market with golden yellow at the edges.

Solenostemon X ‘Candidus’ which has a white patch in the centre of the undulate, pale green leaves.

Solenostemon X ‘Golden Bedder’ which has lemon yellow leaves deepening to gold in bright light.

Solenostemon X ‘Pink Rainbow’ which has undulate, coppery red leaves marked with green bands and carmine-red veining.

Solenostemon X ‘Sunset’ which has a pink patch in the centre of its leaves.

Note: As members of the Mint family of plants (Lamiaceae), Solenostemon species are close relatives of Mentha arvensis (peppermint), Mentha viridis (spearmint), Salvia officinalis (sage), Ocimum basilicum (basil), Thymus vulgaris (thyme), Origanum vulgare (oregano) and Plectranthus verticillatus (Swedish ivy).

Solenostemon scutellarioides may became invasive in warm climates.

Uses and display: Solenostemon scutellarioides has the most incredible foliage with colors and color combinations that no other plant species can offer. The leaves are gorgeous with their frilly edges and unique color patterns. These plants are easy-care, versatile and their foliage colour, again, can only be described as spectacular! They combine well with flowering annuals to create more texture and interest or it is a great stand-alone in a container or bed. These plants can be used for group or mass as garden annuals in beds and borders; pots, containers, window boxes, hanging baskets; houseplants.


Foliage – coloured
Shape – bushy
Height: 45-60cm (18-24 inch)

Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – direct
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Solenostemon BrilliancySolenostemon CandidusSolenostemon Golden BedderSolenostemon Pink RainbowSolenostemon SunsetSolenostemon scutellarioides - flowers

Annuals, Evergreen, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Euphorbia pulcherrima

Common Names: Poinsettia, Christmas Star, Christmas Flower, Painted Leaf, Lobster Plant, Mexican Flameleaf

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Synonymous: Euphorbia erythrophylla
Euphorbia fastuosa
Pleuradenia coccinea
Poinsettia pulcherrima

Euphorbia pulcherrima

Euphorbia pulcherrima

Distribution and habitat: Euphorbia pulcherrima is indigenous to Mexico and Central America. It is found in the wild in deciduous tropical forest at moderate elevations from southern Sinaloa down the entire Pacific coast of Mexico to Chiapas and Guatemala. It is also found in the interior in the hot, seasonally dry forests of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas. Reports of Euphorbia pulcherrima growing in the wild in Nicaragua and Costa Rica have yet to be confirmed by botanists.

Euphorbia pulcherrima is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6 to 4m (2-16 feet).

Description: Euphorbia pulcherrima is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. Growers in Scandinavia and California developed the strains that have been scaled down for use indoors. All Euphorbia pulcherrima are winter flowering shrubs notable for their coloured bracts. Modern forms are often no taller that 30-45cm (12-18 inch) with lobed or fiddle-shaped leaves that are 10-15cm (4-6 inch) long, toothed and coloured deep green etched with paler vein marking.

The greenish-yellow flowers are insignificant, but each cluster of tiny flowers is surrounded by 10 to 20 actively coloured bracts, which look like narrowly pointed (or roughly heart-shaped) broad leaves. In the most showy forms, these leaf-like bracts are 20-25cm (8-10 inch) long. The colored bracts are most often flaming red but can be red, pale green, cream, pink, white or marbled. All Euphorbia pulcherrima are short-day plants, flower-bud and bract formation can be initiated only by an eight-week period of no more that 10 hours of light and no less than 14 hours of total, uninterrupted darkness per day. In addition, the plants are treated with a dwarfing chemical that effectively reduces stem length. The resultant short-stemmed plants crowned by large and handsome bracts are normally sold when they are in full bloom in early winter, but they may also be timed for Christmas.

Houseplant care: Under favorable conditions, the bracts will remain attractive for two months or even longer. Thereafter, most people discard the plant, but it is possible (through not particularly easy) to keep and bring them into flower again in the following season.

Light: Keep Euphorbia pulcherrima in bright filtered light – full sunlight filtered through a translucent blind or curtain.

Temperature: Cool room temperature is suitable for Euphorbia pulcherrima. Daytime temperature should be between 13-18°C (55-65°F), with a minimum at night of 10°C (50°F). High temperatures will shorten the life of the colorful bracts. Avoid temperature fluctuations and warm or cold drafts.

Place the Euphorbia pulcherrima in a drought-free position by keeping the pots plunged in containers of moist peat. Do not expose the plant to gas fumes.

Water: Water the plant carefully, allowing the soil almost to dry out between waterings. Use the leaves as an indicator and water well as soon as any sign of wilting is observed. When is time to water the plant,  the potting mixture should then be thoroughly saturated.

Fertilising: No feeding is necessary.

Keeping the plant for another season:  After the bracts have faded and fallen, cut top growth down to 3-5cm (1-2 inch) from the base and allow the potting mixture to become almost – but never completely – dry. When growth stops, keep the dormant plant at normal room temperature, in bright filtered light, until middle of the spring; then flood it with water. The plant, still in its old pot, will soon begin to grow again.

The stump of the old plant can be allowed to develop an entirely new season’s growth. Repot the newly growing plant in a fresh soil-based mixture after shaking off the old potting mixture. Do not use a larger pot than the original one for a newly growing old plant. Bigger pots merely encourage the rapid growth of lush foliage at the expense of the flowers and bracts; the result is likely to be a huge plant which is unrecognisable as a Euphorbia pulcherrima. Once reported, treat the restarted old plant  as a newly purchased plant, except that it should be given monthly application of a standard liquid fertiliser, until middle-autumn. Thereafter to stimulate flowering it is vital to subject plants to a strict regimen of short-day for the next 8 weeks: Give the plant no less than 14 hours of darkness per day – cover them with a black plastic bag from early evening for about 14 hours. During the day plants need to receive bright light, recommended natural daylight.

The resulting plants are usually taller than commercially produced Euphorbia pulcherrima. The dwarfing chemical used by professional growers is rarely available for use by amateurs.

Propagation: Euphorbia pulcherrima can be propagated by cuttings from the tips of the new growth, taken in summer. Taken 12-15cm (5-6 inch) long cuttings from the new  side shoots and root them to make new plants. The end cut should be treated with water to seal in the latex and they should then be inserted in small pots containing a mixture of equal parts of peat moss and coarse sand. Keep the pots at room temperature in filtered sunlight and water only enough to make the mixture barely moist. Allow the top two-thirds to dry out between waterings. When rooting has occurred (normally in three or four weeks) and the cuttings are growing actively, move them into pots of fresh soil-based potting mixture and treat them as mature Euphorbia pulcherrima (see Keeping the plant for another season section after repotting).

Culture: When grown outdoors, Euphorbia pulcherrima grow best in full sun through to about half shade. They need to be placed where they do not receive a spillover of night light from a street or house window, as flowering is stimulated by shortening of the daylight hours. They like rich, well-drained soil and need protection from frost and strong winds. They can be pruned after flowering in spring to encourage a more compact shrub.

Problems: Euphorbia pulcherrima is generally problem free if given enough light and not overwatered.

Loss of flower heads and browning of the leaf edges indicate insufficient humidity.
Treatment: Correct the humidity by misting the plant regularly.

Uses: Euphorbia pulcherrima is widely cultivated as a garden ornamental in tropical and subtropical areas and grown commercially as a pot-plant, in particular for sale during the winter period. Euphorbia pulcherrima‘s brilliant red floral display held against rich green foliage has made this species a holiday favorite. Its appealing presentation of the traditional Christmas colours has so endeared poinsettia that it is now second only to the Christmas tree as the most popular holiday plant.

Recommended varieties:
Euphorbia pulcherrima ‘Barbara Ecke Supreme’ is a much branching plant with very large cardinal red bracts closely surrounding the central flowers.

Euphorbia pulcherrima ‘Mrs Paul Ecke’ is featured with fewer stems and blood red bracts.

Euphorbia pulcherrima ‘Ecke’s White’ has long lasting creamy white bracts.

Toxicity:  Euphorbia pulcherrima‘s toxicity is relatively mild. Its latex can cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. It is also mildly irritating to the skin or stomach and may sometimes cause diarrhea and vomiting if eaten. Sap introduced into the human eye may cause temporary blindness. Use gloves when handling Euphorbia pulcherrima to avoid any accidents.


Foliage – green
Shape – bushy
Features – flowers

Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 10b-11

Euphorbia pulcherrima







Annuals, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants, Shrubs , , , , , , , , , ,

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