Complete Coleus Kong Rose Care Guide: 29 Tips And Where To Buy

green and red coleus kong rose close up photo

Coleus Kong Rose is a lovely and low-maintenance plant that can liven up any garden, whether as an outdoor or indoor plant. Known for its pointy leaves and bright colors, each variety has a unique look and feel. 

In this article, we’ll go over Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Kong Rose’’ care in greater detail so you may confidently raise this low-maintenance beauty.

If you’re looking to buy a Coleus Kong Rose, we’ve got several cheap selections for you to consider. Continue reading to learn about the fascinating world of this beautiful plant.

What Is Coleus Kong Rose?

The Kong Rose Coleus, an herbaceous annual or tender perennial, is a stunning plant that grows well near an east or west-facing window as a houseplant – or really anywhere with warmer temperatures and partial shade. 

Also called Plectranthus scutellarioides, Kong Rose Coleus is a cultivated variety with undulating bright red centers, surrounded by dark red, all outlined in lime green edges. These ornamental features are all the more highlighted by their serrated leaves and prominent dark red stripes.

Important to Note: While many Coleus varieties do well in sunny locations, Coleus Kong Rose thrives best in part shade environments, similar to its native habitat in Asia. 

That said, we’ve successfully grown it in full sun, but you may see its foliage display change a bit. The tinges of cherry become darker in full sun, and it looks more like other Coleus varieties, such as Chocolate Covered Cherry Coleus. 

But it still does pretty well and has its classic burgundy veins.

Origin And Family

The Kong Rose Coleus comes from the Solenostemon genus, which belongs to the Lamiaceae or Mint family. 

A Dutch horticulturist introduced the plant to Europe from the Java mountains in 1851. There were limited cultivars at that time. It is originally from tropical areas of southeastern Asia to Australia, where it flowers and fruits all throughout the year.

By 1877, when William Ball of North America provided seeds for 43 US cents each, a wider variety was accessible.

Coleus breeding became common in the early 1940s, and by the 1980s, the availability of superior cultivars led to coleus becoming the tenth most significant bedding crop in the United States. 

Many newer varieties of Coleus have resistance to the full sun now, although Kong Rose prefers indirect light in most situations. 

Outdoors, this plant works well in a home garden, a shade garden, outdoor containers, or as ground cover. That said, like all Coleus plants, it will not be able to survive the frost. In hardiness zones colder than 10, Kong Coleus is better suited as an annual or indoor house plant.

Where Can You Buy Coleus Kong Rose?

You can likely find Coleus Kong Rose with ease at a local nursery. Etsy is also a great alternative that I like to use. We can get some fantastic plant options there. Smaller plants will likely only cost you $5-10 apiece.

Buy On Esty

Similar Plants To Coleus Kong Rose

Love Kong Rose Coleus? Here are some other similar plant options you should try:

Coleus Wasabi – Wasabi Coleus is a herbaceous annual or perennial with an erect spreading habit. Its medium texture blends into the garden but complements a couple of finer or coarser plants.

Coleus Chocolate Covered Cherry – These plants, like Wasabi, are resilient in both full shade and bright sunlight. Their oblong serrated leaves have a gritty texture and a stunning assortment of colors, including a crimson rose center bordered by deep mahogany red lines and rimmed in narrow green margins.

Coleus Canina – Coleus canina, while not as showy as other Coleus types, can deter cats, dogs, and other small animals. It has a pungent odor that is similar to that of cat or dog urine. It’s repulsive! But it’s also functional!

Coleus Redhead – The tropical evergreen perennial Solenostemon Redhead, has velvety crimson leaves with a serrated edge. It also retains its brilliant color in both shade and direct sunlight.

Coleus Electric Lime – These plants, known as Coleus Electric Lime, feature round, jagged green leaves with contrasting yellow veins along the surface. It’s some lovely greenery that adds a splash of color. The Coleus Electric Lime, a herbaceous annual in warmer climates and indoors, is usually recognized as a perennial.

Coleus Kong Rose in Yellow and White Pot photo by April’s Garden

Coleus Kong Rose Plant Size

The Coleus Kong Rose grows to about 16-24 inches tall as a houseplant and grows to 8 inches wide. This stunning herbaceous annual or short-lived perennial is preferred near an east or west-facing window and is considered a fast grower.

Coleus Kong Rose Care Needs

Kong Rose Coleus are water-loving plants that need evenly moist soil throughout the year. During the summertime, water your plant when the soil’s surface is dry about one inch down. 

Water deeply until it drains out the hole in the bottom of the pot. Be sure to toss out the water collection tray to fend off root rot.

Check out these general care tips for getting started with this beautiful houseplant.

Care Difficulty

While all plants require some kind of care, the Kong Coleus is considered by indoor gardeners to be easy to care for. With the right combination of factors, you can easily keep this plant thriving. For the Kong Rose Coleus, the primary growing considerations are the amount of water and light.

Growth Rate

The growth rate of a Coleus Kong Rose is fast, especially if you fertilize during the growing season. It will grow to about 16-24 inches tall at a mature height. 

Soil

The Coleus Kong Rose does best in a standard commercial potting soil. Use rich soils, including elements high in organic material – like leaves, thick mulch bark, lots of organic compost, peat moss, or hay to construct your own or simply purchase one online. Because scutellarioides prefers an evenly moist growing environment, your soil should be able to accommodate it.

Root rot is much less common when you have good soil drainage. For best results, use a well-draining soil or potting mix with this stunning plant.

These are some excellent general purpose potting mixtures:

Potting Considerations

Solenostemon plants generally prefer a pot with good drainage. They don’t want to stand in water.

A small-to-medium plastic, terracotta, or clay pot works fine. And while it may seem obvious, please make sure that you have a hole in the bottom of your pot.

The lack of drainage is one of the leading killers of most plants, including Coleus Kong Rose. Make sure your soil, pot, and water help your plant grow rather than cause it to die.

Repotting

You typically need to repot your Coleus Kong Rose even when you want the plant to grow larger. If you like it the size it is, keep it in the same pot and prune as needed. 

Light

Coleus Kong Rose prefers bright indirect light, partial shade, partial sun, or full shade for optimal growth. 

That said, it can survive in direct light (though this can affect the color of its leaves). You’re trying to simulate how it grows in tropical areas in southeastern Asia to Australia.

Placing this plant near an east or west-facing window works well in most situations, and it’s a widespread plant in inner-city environments, as it can grow well in the shade of buildings. 

But even as a shade-loving plant, you’ll still want to have some light on this Coleus for 6-8 hours per day.

You’ll know your Kong Rose Coleus is getting too much light when its leaves could start to lose their color – or they could darken to look like Coleus chocolate covered.

On the flip side, if this plant doesn’t get enough light, its stems can wilt, and leaves may fall off.

Water

Kong Rose Coleus are water-loving plants that need evenly moist soil.

Remember, soil moisture is one of the most important factors for growing this Coleus plant. Water your plant when the soil’s surface is dry about one inch down during the spring to fall. 

Water deeply until it drains out the hole in the bottom of the plastic, terracotta, or clay pot. Be sure to toss out the water collection tray to fend off root rot.

In the winter, you won’t need to water as much. Water your Coleus plants deeply but less frequently.

Fertilizer

A general-purpose fertilizer is ideal for the Coleus Kong Rose. Jacks’s Prof General Purpose Fertilizer (20-20-20), for example, would work. During the spring to fall, feed the plant every other week.

In winter, there’s no need to fertilize.

pH

For this scutellarioides, you’ll want your soil to be acidic to neutral pH, approximately between 5.6-7.5. That said, Coleus isn’t incredibly picky, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

Propagating Coleus Kong Rose

Want to make new plants without buying them? Propagating a Kong Rose Coleus can be done through a few basic steps and methods. Here are the top ways to reproduce this unique plant.

Stem Cuttings In Water

My favorite way to propagate Coleus is through stem cuttings in water. It’s easy and fast. You can expect to see roots in a couple of weeks at most. Here are some simple steps for getting started. 

  1. Identify a 4-6-inch-long stem and cut it above the stem nodes using clean gardening shears
  2. Place cuttings in filtered water (I use a clear glass)
  3. Place your cutting under light (I use a grow light for Coleus)
  4. Refill the water as needed. Don’t let the glass run out of water.
  5. Plant your cutting in a couple of inches of soil once it has a rudimentary root system – a couple of inches of roots or so. As it adjusts to life in the soil, it may appear limp at first. This is considered normal, and it should improve in a few days.

Propagating With Seed

When growing Coleus from seed, follow these steps. 

  1. Plant seeds indoors. Using a seed starting kit, start seeds 6-8 weeks before the final frost.
  2. Sow seeds shallowly and lightly with fine seed starting soil.
  3. At 65-85 degrees, keep the soil moist. Bottom heat can be beneficial to Coleus. (Seedlings should appear in 2-3 weeks.)
  4. Provide lots of light on a sunny windowsill as soon as seedlings emerge, or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights that are operated on 16 hours per day and off for 8 hours at night.
  5. When they have two sets of leaves, thin to one seedling per cell.
  6. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, seedlings don’t require much fertilizer; feed them when they’re 3-4 weeks old with a starting solution (half the strength of a complete indoor houseplant meal).
  7. After the frost, transplant hardened-off seedlings into the garden.
  8. Seedling plants must be “hardened off” before being planted in the garden. Move young seedlings to a covered spot outside for a week to acclimate them to outdoor conditions. At first, keep them out of the wind and the intense sun. If frost threatens at night, bring containers indoors and get them back out in the morning. This technique toughens the cell structure of the plant and decreases transplant shock and scorching.

Humidity And Aeration

Coleus Kong Rose or Kong Rose Coleus is a stunning herbaceous annual or short-lived perennial that prefers moderate-to-high humidity– often between 60 and 80%.

If you’re concerned about your humidity or see brown edges on your plants, consider using a humidifier to improve humidity conditions.

Temperature

Warm temperatures are preferable for your Kong Rose Coleus plant, but they can thrive in a temperature range of 55-90 degrees. 

Still, they can typically tolerate temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They do, however, like a constant temperature, so keep them away from vents and openings that may allow chilly air in.

Temperature and humidity requirements are frequently intertwined. Make sure to go over the humidity portion as well.

Flowers

The Coleus Kong Rose can produce insignificant light blue flowers now and again throughout the year. For indoor growers, I recommend you remove the flowers as you see them.

Toxic

According to the ASPCA, the essential oils in Kong Rose Coleus are considered toxic to dogs and cats. If ingested, this plant could cause the following symptoms: diarrhea, anorexia, bloody vomiting, and depression. 

In most cases, this plant is considered non-life-threatening, but please speak with a veterinarian if you think your pet has ingested Coleus.

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems

Is your Coleus Kong Rose looking ill? Most would say that the Kong Rose Coleus is strongly resistant to pests, diseases, and widespread problems. That said, some severe pests could still affect growth.

In the following sections, I’ve provided the common issues that still affect this attractive plant. Use these tips to help diagnose and treat your Solenostemon.

Aphids

Aphids can eat the leaves and leave a mark on them, resulting in black and brown patches.

Use an insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat aphids, or prepare your own with a dish detergent like Ivory Liquid. Look for a product that is free of fragrances and other ingredients that could harm plants. Combine the soap and water in a weak concentration (starting with one teaspoon per gallon and increasing as necessary). Spray the plants, paying particular attention to the undersides of the leaves.

Downy Mildew

A Peronospora species causes downy mildew in Coleus. It was discovered in the United States for the first time in 2005, but it has since spread.

Downy mildew can slow growth in your Electric Lime, but it can also cause leaf drop, chlorosis, and angular lesions.

Because downy mildew thrives in high humidity, keep fans running at night to increase ventilation.

There are some mildew-resistant Coleus cultivars, but we don’t know if Electric Lime is one among them.

Spider Mites

Spider mites could potentially be unwelcome visitors to your home. The larvae likely won’t be visible, but the tiny mites will. During the larval stage, neem can help eradicate them. Home growers can also use an organic pyrethrin spray to get rid of these annoyances.

Scale Insects

Scale insects may appear as lumps on the stems or branches of a plant rather than insects. Once they’ve latched on to a plant, the tiny bugs, which come in green, gray, brown, and black colors, usually stay put.

Care for Light Infestation

You can use a teaspoon of neem oil in water to help keep new scale insects from attacking your wonderful Kong Rose if your infestation isn’t too bad — on a single plant or part of a single plant.

While neem oil or horticulture oils will not kill everything, they will undoubtedly cause some damage. Another alternative is to introduce scale insect predators, such as the dreaded ladybug.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs infestations are somewhat common on Coleus Kong Rose, especially if you have a lot of different houseplants. Act promptly if you find these tiny parasites (often identified with white puffs on the leaves). Take a cotton swab bathed in isopropyl alcohol, and rub it over the Kong Rose Coleus’s leaves and stem. Neem oil also works well as a prophylactic spray.

Root Rot

Root rot is a very prevalent cause of death for Kong Rose Coleus. Indoor gardeners sometimes are a little excessive with their watering – or fail to ensure proper drainage for potting soil. These are the two primary causes of root rot. Due to the difficulty of treating root rot, prevention is the best course of action, like with many other plant diseases.

The simplest way to prevent root rot in Coleus Kong Rose is to check the amount of water it receives.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a plant with some pizazz, the Coleus Kong Rose is a fine choice if you’re looking for a new house plant. Your efforts will be rewarded with beautiful multi-colored leaves that you will enjoy having in your home!

Can’t get enough of plant guides? Check out these other options from Two Peas In A Condo!

Patrick Chism

Patrick likes to pretend that urban gardening is just a hobby, but he’s actually prepping for the apocalypse. He’s a practical grower, specializing in hydroponics systems and grow lights. His dream is to one day feed his family with just the food he grows in his Chicago-based condo.

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