*Image credit Prabhat Kumar

Coleus with its exquisitely gorgeous leaves.Nature has painted its structure gracefully.It appears in lustrous sheds of red, yellow, green, pink, black, white and many more combination of colors, in kaleidoscopic configuration.

Believe it or not,it is a house plant, unrivaled in popularity like no other plant in gardens of Jharkhand.Even amongst the amateurs as well as professional gardeners the world fame,it is most sought after.It is bushy, ever green annual, with manageable luxuriant growth, capable to be manicured in shape for enhanced attractiveness with minimal care and maintenance.The soft wooded plant is surprisingly durable, cherishing a location engulfed in the pleasant warmth of the morning sun for a few hours for healthy growth. The soil bed or pot where coleus will be planted needs well drained humus soil, modified and enriched with the addition of organic manure, preferably of neutral pH value or slight alkalinity. Coleus adjusts to indoor environment admirably well, if the conditions enumerated above are made available. The dainty, colorful plant will prove a bundle of joy!.

Humidity in the surrounding is essential and so is moisture content in soil, to be maintained at constant level lest the leaves start curling and drooping awkwardly downward, a symptom denoting loss of water content. Over watering shall be avoided as water logging in potted plant is harmful. 

However in dry- hot season, copious watering may be required twice in a day. Sapling needs to be selected carefully - choose a young healthy plant as it adapts to the new condition easily in comparison to old one. Also, the selected sapling should posses firm and strong stem with branches having fresh looking, disease free, healthy foliage. We need to remember that Coleus is prized as a highly decorative plant due to its extremely attractive variegated leaves. Select the sapling with due diligence and not what is offered randomly. 

As the plant develops, pinching will facilitate profuse growth of foliage all round the main stem. Pinching branches at right time, at right interval for right purpose, demand expertise. In due time, the plant produces flower spikes. It is a sign that the plant is maturing. The spike shall be removed forth right to keep the plant growing and maintaining its youthful looks. Removal of sagging old branches with shriveled leaves, emanating from base is desirable. At this stage, addition of bio-feed is essential to rejuvenate the plant. 

After 6 to 8 months, Coleus starts ageing – growing old. At this stage, foliage wilts with loss of luster and freshness, and hardening of stems appear, imparting an ungainly, listless look, indicating that time has come to propagate new plant, from cutting or seeds – a job one can perform by gaining experience or learning from experts. Do it yourself - to test, how far you have advanced with your loving care, developed delicate green finger and consequently felt delighted in your endeavor!  

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