Painted Nettle (Coleus scutellarioides)

Coleus scutellarioides, or Painted Nettle, is an exuberant, eye-catching vivarium plant that should be used with care as it can take over the enclosure quickly.

Painted Nettle is a tropical species of the mint family, meaning it can grow quickly and can be quite invasive if not trimmed back regularly.

This small pond plant is great for experienced plant hobbyists, as it requires quite a bit of attention to keep its foliage looking vibrant and healthy.

Quick Stats:
Scientific Name Coleus scutellarioides
Common Name Painted Nettle, Burgundy Glow Coleus
Family Name Lamiaceae
Habitat Rainforests
Temperature 65°F to 85°F
Height Up to 2 feet
pH 6.0 to 7.5
Lighting Bright

What Is Painted Nettle?

Coleus scutellarioides, commonly known as Painted Nettle or Burgundy Glow Coleus, is a perennial plant commonly found in tropical rainforests.

This species typically has its leaves arranged in an opposite pattern, growing up to two feet tall with small, bright corolla flowers.

Its leaves will appear vibrant in color ranging from shades of red, purple, yellow, and green.

Its stems will be brittle, allowing removal with ease for trimming, and if taken care of, Painted Nettle leaves will last 5 – 8 months.

Coleus scutellarioides "Painted Nettle" Plant Care Guide

Painted Nettle Facts

This plant goes by many names and is often confused with Nettles, which it is not related to.

Coleus scutellarioides is edible but tasteswaxy and it is not suggested that it is eaten.

This plant is recommended for its aesthetics as it is quite beautiful and eyecatching.


Coleus scutellarioides is a vibrant, eye-catching pond plant.

The leaves of this species are very delicate, broad, and in the typical opposing arrangement.

This plant can reach a height that exceeds two feet tall and its leaves will appear in a multitude of hues, like red, purple, yellow, and green depending on the variety.

Its stems are brittle but exude a bitter odor when disturbed.


Painted Nettle is typically found in tropical rainforest habitats or places with abundant moisture.

This plant is native to South and Southeast Asia but can be found throughout the world today.

The temperature in its native habitat levels ranges between 65°F to 85°F.

pH Preference

This species of coleus prefers a higher pH range than some other vivarium plants, usually from 6.0 to 7.5.

In its wild habitat, this species will typically be growing on more basic soils.

Vivarium Type

The Painted Nettle is quite an easy-going species.

With that in mind, it will not be too complicated when it comes to choosing the type of enclosure it is grown in.

It is best to try and replicate the plant’s natural habitat as much as possible.

Doing so will make it easier to provide this foliage plant with its basic needs.

The proper setup and theme of the enclosure will make a big difference to the overall look and health of the plant.

Be sure to choose setups that are moist and high in humidity.

Here are recommended vivariums it will do well in:

  • Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.
  • Terrariums – Fully terrain-based enclosures with little to no aquatic features.
  • Ripariums – Mostly aquatic-based enclosures with some terrain features present.

Vivarium Placement

Painted Nettle is an excellent addition to any vivarium or pond, particularly those with an eye for contrast and variety.

This species can be used as a tall backdrop in areas with minimal hardscapes.

I also recommend putting this plant in the midground of the vivarium for a more cascading effect. 


Painted Nettle typically does well in addition to almond hulls or cork bark, which are ideal for moisture management.

Additionally, using organic loam soils provide the root zone with easier absorption rates, offering this species the best chances of survival.


This species loves lots of sunlight and brightness, so avoid placing Painted Nettle in too shady of a spot.

Keeping it in the middle ground of an enclosure is ideal, as no direct light should be reaching it.

It is also important to note that this species can be sensitive to too much or too little light or humidity, so it is best to stick with aquatic light and moderate humidity.

Buy Painted Nettle

When buying Coleus scutellarioides, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Making sure the plant is healthy when purchased is essential for its success in a vivarium or pond.

Vegetation that is already in poor conditions will have a very hard time adjusting to new environments.

Click the image below to learn more about the current price and other relative info about this plant.

Painted Nettle Care & Propagation

Painted Nettle is a robust plant that requires minimal pruning and trimming to maintain its health.

The best way to propagate Coleus scutellarioides is by taking a cutting from an established plant.

The cutting should be around 4 – 5 inches in length and placed in a moist soil substrate to begin root development.

How To Grow

In order to get the best results when growing Painted Nettle, it should be kept in an environment that is consistently warm, moist, and well-drained.

Water Requirement

The best way to water Painted Nettle is to water it with distilled or treated tap water.

The soil should be kept moist but not wet, as this can cause the roots to rot.

Additionally, try not to mist the foliage of this species, as it can cause the leaves to discolor. 

Plants Similar To Painted Nettle

Adding diversity to an enclosure is key to an aesthetically pleasing setup.

Try mixing up the look of your vivarium with different flora that can easily co-exist in the same types of environment.

Furthermore, if for some reason you find the Painted Nettle hard to acquire or would like to consider something similar to this plant…

Here are other foliage plants you might find will do well with or in place of Coleus scutellarioides:

Acorus calamus "Sweet Flag" Plant Care Guide
Alternanthera ficoidea "Party Time Plant" | The Care Guide
Ruellia brittoniana ‘Katie’ "Katie Ruellia" Plant Care Guide


Overall, the Painted Nettle is a great addition to any pond or vivarium!

This species absolutely demands attention with its vibrant colors and should be a staple in any enclosure looking to enhance visual contrast and diversity.

Plus, its care requirements are relatively easy, so there’s no excuse not to add it to your collection.

It is important to note, however, that this species can be a bit invasive if not taken good care of, so be sure to trim back any overgrowth when necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

The common name of Coleus scutellarioides is Painted Nettle.

Painted Nettle (Coleus scutellarioides) is toxic because it contains compounds such as thymol, which can be toxic if consumed in large amounts. These compounds can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastric issues. Additionally, these compounds can irritate the skin and cause other allergic reactions if the plant is handled directly.

If you touch a nettle plant, you may experience a stinging or prickly sensation due to the sap contained in the plant‘s tiny hairs. The effect can vary from mild itching to intense pain and burning.

Yes, coleus plants can purify air. They are known for their natural airpurifying properties and can absorb toxins like formaldehyde and benzene from the air around them.

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