Victorian’s freakin’ loved a lot of plants. They thought plants were cool. Because plants are cool. One such plant that caught the Victorian interest was the exciting, technicolour tender perennial, Solenostemon. Commonly known as Coleus or painted nettle.
Either Victorians had amazing taste ahead of their time, or I have shocking taste fixed in the past. Whichever, the plants the Victorians loved – Ferns, Dahlias, Solenostemon – I love, love, love them all!
Solenostemon are popular for their brightly coloured foliage, great for summer bedding in sun or shade, as well as house or conservatory plants. The Victorians bred them heavily, and we have some incredible cultivars today.
I grew some from seed, the Solenostemon scuttelarioides ‘Dragon Sunset & Volcano Mix’ at the start of the year. Super easy, just sow on top of damp seed compost in good light. Wait until late March or early April. I tried earlier in a Growlight but they all succumbed to damping off. Light was key. I’ll grow more next year.
Here are some that caught my eye from the RHS Wisley Solenostemon trials back in Sept 2015…
As usual, I’m drawn to the rich, warm pinks and purples – usually in dark patches with neon pink. On many the layers overlap each other, they look like the colour has been printed or splashed on.
But Solenostemon come in a vast array of shapes and colours and are easily grown over summer, and protected in doors in winter if you can be bothered. I can because they’re AMAZING. So there you go 🙂