I did not expect my education into growing plants in the desert, of the southwest in Arizona, would include houseplants. But it has, and for me houseplants include coleus.
It never mattered how much I had space to grow Solenostemon scutellarioides in an outdoor garden, I have always wanted coleus in my indoor spaces, too. Here in the low desert, finding a reasonable balance between shielding indoor rooms from hot blazing sun and providing enough light for houseplants is my new reality.
I suppose I still have that northern attitude. I want some plants indoors that I am not moving back and forth between outside and in at the end of each season. While a lot of the tropicals and succulents I knew in Wisconsin as houseplants could be outdoor plants all year long here, I like plants in my inside rooms, too. Coleus included.
Light Intensity at the Window for Coleus
Darkening rooms in a desert home is a frequently used technique to create a cool place, especially as temperatures start reaching for the 100 degree range and continues on for three or four months. Inside, windows may have the traditional heavy draperies, blinds or shutters over them but outside, windows may also be fitted with sun screens.
We also use foliage trees and shrubs or longer roof overhangs to cut the angle of the sun. Patio umbrellas, like in other locations around the country, are opened up to shade us from hot summer sun, here we are just as likely to keep ours opened up most of the year. It is any combination of these tools, which will cut the high intensity of summer sun from heating up our indoor spaces.
For houseplant gardeners, this means the amount of direct bright light available for tropicals is ironically far less than what I might have had in another state.
Low Light Coleus Plants
I grew two coleus of the same new cultivar that will be out in 2013, Proven Winners ColorBlaze® Marooned™ this summer. As the tag indicates a sun to shade exposure, I wanted to see what would occur if I placed one outside and grew one indoors.
I placed the Marooned™ coleus outside in a garden with a westerly exposure, beginning the morning and going on until evening. However, a large tree and a patio umbrella essentially gave Marooned mostly dappled sun/shade environment. Planted in a container, it has been watered every day, except then the monsoon rains did the work for me.
The indoor Marooned™ was placed inside the patio doors facing the same direction, the overhang and huge umbrella blocking the sun giving the indoor coleus medium to low light. Over time the purple/burgundy leaves turned green. The plant was moved to an eastern facing window, where the blinds allowed better management of the bright indirect light, allowing not more than an hour of direct, very early morning sun. The new leaves have slowly grown to the size of the outdoor Marooned but the purple is returning.
Sometimes the desire to grow one type of plant is enough to keep on stay gardening. For me, it is coleus. What is The plant that would keep you going?