Red coleus plants are easy to grow and care for. They will reward gardeners with deep, vibrant pink and red tinged leaves and enthusiastic growth of up to four feet tall. Their coloration has earned them the nicknames, “painted nettle” and “poor man's croton.” Red coleus, or Coleus blume, are a hybrid of the Solenostemon family, and they are so attractive that they are a popular choice for container plantings, flowerbeds, border and accent plantings, and corner and foundation plantings. Red coleus can also be grown indoors as it tolerates shadier conditions very well.
Red coleus fares well with morning sun, but prefers shade during the hottest parts of the day. Red coleus can be germinated indoors and planted as soon as the last frost of winter has passed. Soil for red coleus should be enriched with organic matter and have excellent drainage. Red coleus can tolerate some crowding without complaint and is often used for massed plantings in garden beds and containers. When planting, keep in mind that its width at maturity can top three feet, so some effort to leave space between plantings should be made.
Red coleus will appreciate frequent watering and will likely need frequent pruning to control growth. If red coleus is planted in containers, it will need more moisture than free soil plantings will. During the spring and summer growth months, add half-strength liquid fertilizer to give red coleus extra incentive to grow. In the summer, red coleus will produce spiked flowers. These can be left or pinched away without causing harm to the plant. Pinching will induce heartier growth during the growing season of spring and summer.