Coleus Wasabi: Shade, Sun, And Everything Inbetween

coleus wasabi growing guides

Coleus Wasabi is a beautiful and versatile plant that can add some zing to your garden (indoor or outdoor). There are countless types of Coleus plants – each with their own colors and unique uses. In this article, we’re taking a deeper look at Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ care so that you can raise this low-maintenance beauty with confidence.

If you’re here to buy a Wasabi Coleus, we also have some affordable options to review. Read on to discover the exciting world of this dazzling plant.

What Is Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’?

The Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’, commonly called Coleus Wasabi, is a herbaceous annual that can also be grown as a perennial plant. It’s known for growing just about anywhere as long as you have decent humidity. 

Wasabi: Vigor In Sun Or Shade

This Coleus looks good in container gardens, hanging baskets, and even as a houseplant (which is our favorite way to grow Coleus). It has an upright growth habit, meaning it often works well as the center of the pot – with smaller cascading plants surrounding it.

You can also just grow this plant on its own. If you want to partner with other plants, consider another brightly-leaved Coleus, such as Coleus Chocolate Covered Cherry or Coleus Redhead.

Because of its chartreuse leaves (similar to a sweet potato vine), it also looks great when contrasted with brightly colored plants, such as black elephant ears. It’s the perfect low-maintenance plant for landscaping – both inside and outdoors.

Common Name: Coleus Wasabi

Scientific Name: Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’

Unique Ability: It can withstand either full shade or full sun, assuming you give it proper humidity.

Origin And Family

The Wasabi Coleus is a member of the Lamiaceae family and originates from the Solenostemon genus. It’s technically not really a Coleus, and it was recategorized several years ago to Solenostemon. But most growers still call it Coleus for simplicity.

The Solenostemon genus is from Southeastern Asia and Australia historically, but seeds by national plant companies create modern variations. 

The Coleus Wasabi is known for its brilliant color and ability to grow well in both bright light or deep shade. 

For the past several years, Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ has been a very successful indoor plant that has done well in most households, assuming it’s given plenty of water and humidity.

Frost Warning

Coleus plants, in general, are in danger of frost. They can survive outside in hardiness zones 9 and 10, but you should plant to overwinter indoors if you want it to live during the colder months.

If you choose to grow this plant as an annual, you can compost the plants as they die from frost and plant again the following year.

Buy Coleus Wasabi

You can purchase Wasabi Coleus plants at either a nursery or home improvement store, but you’ll probably get a much better deal if you purchase them from a U.S.-based Etsy seller.

Coleus Wasabi plants are incredibly affordable, costing between $6-10 per plant. Because of their price and coloring, several are often purchased for a single space. And growers use this Coleus to create contrast between another boldly colored plant. 

Buy From Etsy!

Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ Plant Size

When grown as a houseplant, the Coleus Wasabi grows to a height of 18-36 inches (46-91 cm) and spreads to a width of 16-28 inches (41-71 cm). It’s a fast grower that flourishes when placed anywhere as long as you have decent humidity.

Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ Care Needs

Your Coleus Wasabi plants, like any other houseplants, thrive if adequately cared for. The Coleus Wasabi, with its lovely ornamental leaves, likes to grow in evenly moist soil.

In most situations, you’ll want to water your Solenostemon when the top inch of soil is dry. Similarly, in terms of lighting, this lovely plant can live in any light, whether direct sun, part sun or full shade.

Check out our thorough care guidelines below for more information on humidity, fertilizer, etc.

Growing Outdoors

You may have noticed at this point that this article is mainly about growing Coleus Wasabi inside. But it can absolutely grow well outside. It does well in shade gardens, large planters, and sunny locations, as long as you have moderate to high humidity. 

In an ideal state, part shade is best for this plant. They tolerate heat well, especially as shade plants. Again, though, they will die in frost.

Care Difficulty

In terms of care difficulty, the Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ is a low maintenance plant, making it an excellent choice if you don’t have a green thumb. The biggest considerations for these versatile plants are the humidity and water requirements. 

Growth Rate

The Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ plant is a vigorous grower, stretching to a height between 18-36 inches (46-91 cht. At maturity, it reaches 16-28 inches (41-71 cm) in width. Their growing season is from summer to fall.

Most Solenostemon species are speedy growers and Coleus Wasabi is no different.

Light

Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ prefers any light, whether direct sun, part sun, or full shade. Remember, this isn’t the case for all Coleus plants, but most modern cultivars have this spectacular ability.

Place this plant anywhere as long as you have decent humidity. Plan to keep this plant in (any amount) of light for six to eight hours per day.

You’ll know your Wasabi Coleus is getting too much light if its leaves scorch.

Potting

This dazzling plant can thrive in most potting options. For most growers, any pot will work well for Coleus Wasabi, including terracotta, plastic, or clay.

In terms of sizing, you typically use a small pot for a young Coleus plant. The leaves should go beyond the edge of the pot. That said, Coleus isn’t picky. As long as it has a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot, it should be fine.

Repotting

Coleus is like a goldfish in that it grows to the size of the pot. If you give it a bigger pot, it will continue to grow, especially wider. For those looking to create monster Coleus plants, we recommend you repot every winter.

If you don’t want a larger Wasabi Coleus, there’s not much of a need to repot. I would still recommend you change out the soil every year or two to freshen up the growing medium.

Soil

The Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ does fine in a standard commercial potting soil. If you want to go the extra mile, use rich soil high in organic material and perlite to support good drainage. 

The best way to combat issues like root rot and other disease is through efficient drainage. For best results, use a well-draining soil or potting mix with this versatile plant.

These are some good potting mixtures:

pH

You’ll want your soil to have a pH of roughly 5.5 to 7.5 for this Coleus plant, which is considered acidic to neutral. But that’s only if you’re being a real stickler. Most of the time, it can survive in slightly more alkaline soil too. 

A standard commercial potting soil is usually pretty neutral, so in most cases, pH isn’t a huge concern. If you’re growing outside in garden soil, it could potentially have some issues with pH.

To determine if the soil has a low pH, conduct a pH test. There are several affordable options online.

If necessary, you can add a pinch of calcitic lime or dolomitic lime, wood ashes, or baking soda to boost the pH.

If, however, you are concerned that the pH is excessively high for your Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’, you can lower it using sulfur or aluminum sulfate.

Water

Generally speaking, your Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ prefers an evenly moist growing medium.

It’s a good rule of thumb to water your Wasabi Coleus when the top inch of soil is dry. Outdoors during the summer, this could mean daily (or twice daily!). 

Be sure you’re not watering the leaves themselves, as this could cause certain diseases and mildew.

Allow the water to run out the bottom of the pot. But make sure you don’t leave water to collect in a tray where your plant is sitting.

Brown leaf tips are a common sign that your Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ isn’t getting the high humidity it needs.

Fertilizer

During this plant’s growing season – from summer to fall – fertilize your Coleus Wasabi once a month using a basic slow-release fertilizer.

In the non-growing seasons, when plant development naturally slows, you shouldn’t need to add fertilizer.

Propagating Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’

Propagating a Wasabi Coleus can be done through a few basic steps and methods. Here are the top ways to propagate this unique plant.The easiest way is through water propagation. Here’s a quick video on how to do that, as well as some options to propagate with stem cuttings in soil:

Coleus propagation soil vs water

Humidity And Aeration

Coleus Wasabi is a versatile herbaceous annual (that can also be grown as a perennial) that prefers high humidity – often between 60 and 80%.

If you’re concerned about your humidity or if you see brown edges on your plants, consider these options for increasing humidity.

  • Group your houseplants to create a more humid microclimate through transpiration.
  • Use a humidifier (this is likely the best option)
  • Place your pots on a tray with an inch of pebbles and water. This is called a pebble tray and is often associated with bonsai tree humidity.

Temperature

Warm temperatures are preferable for your Wasabi Coleus plant, but it can thrive in a temperature range of 70-100 degrees Fahrenheit.

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

Flowers

The Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ is more known for its bright green leaves, but it can produce insignificant white flower spikes rarely at the end of the year, if at all.

If you’re growing this plant inside and see the flower spikes, pinch them off with your fingers.

Toxic

Coleus Wasabi is considered toxic to dogs and cats due to its toxic compounds (essential oils). If these annual plants are ingested, they can potentially cause diarrhea, anorexia, bloody vomiting, and depression. In most cases, this plant is considered non-life-threatening. 

For information on what to do if your fur-baby ingests these plants, review this article from the ASPCA.

While mildly toxic to humans, the more common issue is that it can cause skin irritation – mostly on very sensitive skin.

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems

In most situations, the Wasabi Coleus is a disease-resistant and pest-resistant plant. There are, however, some common issues that can affect it. Below we’re discussing some of the common problems, as well as solutions to protect your Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’.

Mealybugs

It’s possible that mealybugs will infest your Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’. If you come to find these little parasites with their white fluff, act promptly. They damage your Coleus by inserting a feeding tube into the plant tissues and sucking on the sap. Mealybugs can weaken or kill your Coleus Wasabi.

The bugs will be freed from your plant using a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. Neem oil can also be used as a preventative spray.

Spider Mites

Spider mites could potentially cause issues for your Coleus Wasabi. They feed on the plant’s sap and tissues. Mostly, you’ll notice small yellow spots if you have spider mites. The larvae will not be visible, but the little mites will. During the larval stage, neem oil can help eradicate them. 

Downy Mildew

Downy mildew in Coleus is caused by  Peronospora. It was detected for the first time in the United States in 2005, but it has since spread from coast to coast.

Downy mildew can cause leaf drop, chlorosis, and angular lesions in your Coleus Wasabi, as well as delayed growth.

To combat downy mildew, the University of Massachusetts Amherst recommends utilizing products containing “copper, cyazofamid, dimethomorph, mefenoxam, oxathiapiprolin, and phosphorous acid.”

Keep fans running at night to enhance ventilation since downy mildew grows in high humidity.

Scale Insects

Scale insects feed on your Coleus by sucking sap with their mouths. It causes yellowing and wilting leaves, as well as stunted growth. 

They may appear as lumps on the stems or branches of a plant rather than insects. Neem oil with water is usually your best bet to fend off these nasty creatures. 

The University of New Hampshire has a great fact sheet on how to treat scale insects, including management suggestions.

Aphids

Aphids can consume the leaves and leave a mark, causing black and brown areas. Use neem oil or another insecticidal soap to repel them. Spray the plants thoroughly, giving close care to the undersides of the leaves.

Brown Leaf Tips

If the tops of your Wasabi Coleus start to turn brown, it could be an indication that it’s getting too much sunlight – or that your home isn’t humid enough. Remember, the Coleus Wasabi needs a humidity of 60%+.

Yellow Leaves

Several factors can cause a Wasabi Coleus plant to become yellow. It could be that it doesn’t get enough sunlight or gets too much or too little water. It may take some troubleshooting to figure out what’s causing this problem.

Prune yellow leaves to encourage new growth and prevent deterioration from spreading. Simply pluck the leaves off with a sharp, sterile pair of shears.

Root Rot

Indoor gardeners regularly overwater or don’t provide proper drainage for potting soil, which can cause root rot. Because root rot is difficult to treat, prevention is the best approach.

The easiest way to prevent root rot in Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Wasabi’ is to monitor water intake closely. Review our suggestions about using your finger to test the soil. When the top inch is dry, it’s time to water the Coleus Wasabi.

Coleus Chocolate Covered Cherry

Similar Plants

Can’t get enough of Coleus Wasabi? Here are some other Coleus plants we love. And we have growing guides for most of them:

Coleus Chocolate Covered Cherry – Like Wasabi, these plants are known to be hardy in both complete shade and bright sunshine. Their oblong serrated leaves feature a gritty texture and a spectacular array of hues, including a red rose center surrounded by deep mahogany red lines, all outlined in thin green edges.

Coleus canina – Coleus canina, while not as spectacular as some Coleus varieties can repel cats, dogs, and other small animals. It has a strong stench similar to cat or dog urine. It’s revolting! But also useful!

Coleus Kong Rose – Kong Rose Coleus is a popular herbaceous perennial that growers are using a lot lately in landscaping.. It’s similar to Chocolate Covered Cherry, but with a larger green border.

Coleus Redhead – Solenostemon Redhead is a tropical evergreen perennial with velvety crimson leaves that have a serrated edge. It also keeps its vibrant color in both shade and full light. 

Coleus Black Dragon – Coleus Black Dragon is a dark purplish-red with a fine texture. It’s a must-have for anyone with a shady spot because it’s compact, showy and easy to grow.

Final Thoughts On Coleus Wasabi

There are so many interesting Coleus varieties – each with their own unique flare. Coleus Wasabi is a great option, whether you grow it indoors or in an outdoor garden. 

If you’re growing Wasabi, we’d love to see pictures. Send what you’ve got to devri@twopeasinacondo.com, and we may feature it on our blog! 

Oh, and do you want to see more plant guides? We’ve got ‘em. If you want to grow it, we probably have an article on it. Check out a few of our favorites below.

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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