Coleus roots sell for Rs 150 a kg
Coleus is not so popular a plant that you may be aware of but chances are that you have a potted Coleus in your window sill or next to your bookshelf. It’s called Pashan Bhedi in Sanskrit, Patharchur in Hindi and Makandiberu in Kannada.
Why I’m mentioning it here. Because growing Coleus is remunerative. The rate being offered is Rs.150 per kg, for its roots. You can have two crops in a year and an acre can yield around 400 to 500 kg.
Coleus possesses tuber like roots and a straight and erect stem with colourful leaves. The coleus has an aromatic fragrance resembling the scent of the camphor plant. Coleus became famous during the 1970’s in Western medical circles due to the discovery of the compound forskolin from coleus extracts. The isolated compound forskolin is known to possess many beneficial effects and further research conducted by an Indo-German company suggested that forskolin was indeed a very potent medication and could be employed in treating different disorders such as glaucoma, heart failure, and bronchial asthma. The primary beneficial chemical found in coleus is the compound forskolin; this chemical is used in treating all kinds of respiratory and circulatory problems including bronchial asthma, heart failure and high blood pressure problems. Forskolin is naturally obtained from coleus plants; moreover, the coleus herb is the only known natural source for this compound.
Remedies made from the coleus were traditionally employed as a digestive remedy in the folk medicine of certain areas in India.
Growing Colues: Coleus plants are durable and easy to grow. They are best known for their bright colours, and variety of foliage forms. Coleus plants may be grown in the garden in bright, indirect light, or in partial shade. Coleus are also quite striking when they are planted in a container, and grown as a house plant. By removing the flower spikes as they develop, and keeping the plant pinched back, the Coleus can be kept in a perennial state for several seasons.
Once the seedlings reach a certain point in their growth, they will develop additional coloring and foliage characteristics. The intensity of light which the plant receives will also have a direct bearing on the intensity of the foliage colouring. Some varieties may produce their best colour in light shade, while others look best in bright lighting. Florescent “grow” lights seem to bring out even more intense and vibrant colouring.
Coleus as a house plant: A Coleus will make a nice house plant as long as it receives sufficient light and food. Your Coleus should be planted in a light, quick draining, and commercial potting soil. Place it where it will receive several hours of bright light . Keep the soil evenly moist, but never soggy. Feed your Coleus plants monthly, with a diluted (50% mix) liquid house plant fertilizer. Flower buds must be pinched off as soon as they develop to prevent the plant from producing seeds. Once a Coleus is allowed to go to seed, it has completed its life objective, and it will usually die.
Coleus in the garden:Although Coleus plants will usually survive in full sun, the foliage colour tends to intensify in light shade when they are grown outdoors. Plant them twelve inches apart in rich, moist, well-drained soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. Feed monthly with a liquid all purpose (10-10-10) fertilizer. Pinch the center stems out when the plants are 4 to 6 inches tall to induce bushier growth, and be sure to pick off the flower spikes as they form.
If the soil is allowed to dry out, the foliage will wilt, but normally will recover quickly when additional water is provided. Water your plants thoroughly at planting time, and then mulch the entire bed to conserve moisture. The mulch will also help to heat up, and retain the heat in the soil, thereby helping your plants to get established in their new home. Watch out for mealy bugs, aphids and whitefly, as well as slugs and snails.
Coleus propagation: Coleus seeds are very small. They should be sown onto a layer of moistened, sterile potting soil in a shallow tray, and then covered with a thin layer of fine soil. The tray should be covered with a pane of glass or sheet of plastic to retain moisture, until the seeds have sprouted. Keep the tray in a warm, bright place. When the seedlings are large enough to handle easily, they should be thinned out and transplanted into individual pots. You can create a clone of your favorite Coleus by taking softwood stem cuttings at any time of the year. Use a sharp clean knife to cut the stem just below a leaf node. Remove the lowest leaves, dip the cut end into a rooting hormone and insert it into some fresh, sterile potting soil. These cuttings will be ready to use as a bright garden accent by early June. They will also root quickly when set in moist sand or vermiculite, or even in a glass of room temperature tap water.