Coleus leaves don't need the addition of flowers. There are varieties in combinations of reds, pinks, yellows, oranges, and greens. No blues or purples - yet. Coleus plants, made popular as a Victorian bedding plants, made a huge comeback in the 1990s and shows no sign of fading back into anonymity. Why should it? Coleus plants give us all season color, in full sun or shade and everything in between. They are the ultimate low maintenance plant. Coleus are tender tropical plants, native to areas bordering the equator. They love the heat, but will happily grow as annuals in just about any garden.
Foliage : Coleus are in the Lamiaceae, or mint, family and have the familiar square stems and opposite leaves. However the foliage offers a great deal of variety, with some ruffled, others elongated, and an endless combination of colors and markings. Flowers: The tall, thin stalks of flowers are usually pruned off before they bloom, to keep the plant’s energy going toward producing a bushy plant. Since the modern sun coleus types do not grow true to seed, the incidental flowers are not missed.
Light exposure depends on the variety. The old fashioned seed-grown coleus do best in partial shade, but the newer vegetatively cultivated varieties have their best color if grown in full sun.
Bloom Period: Plants will try to bloom intermittently throughout the growing season, but as mentioned, the flower stalks are usually trimmed off.
Soil: Coleus are said to prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline soil pH, but I haven’t had problems in my slightly acidic soil. I think as long as there is plenty of organic matter, you should be fine. Planting: Coleus is not at all frost tolerant. Don’t rush to get your plants in the ground. Wait until temperatures remain reliably above 60 F., before you move them out in the garden.
Water: Although coleus love heat, they also need a moist soil. The soil should not remain wet all the time, but long dry spells will slow the plants’ growth and the leaves will start to turn brown around the edges. Mulching will help the soil retain moisture longer, but I have read that cedar mulch can be toxic to coleus. I haven’t tried it myself, so I can’t really say. Fertilizer: You’ll get the best color from your coleus leaves if you go easy on the fertilizer. If you have rich soil, you may not need to feed at all. If not, use a balanced fertilizer at half strength monthly.
To get full, bushy plants, pinch out the growing tips with the plants are about 6 in. tall. You can do this a few more times, if you like, but once the plants start sending up flower stalks, you’ll be pinching out the stalks and getting the same results as pinching the tips. Till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa
Here is what we have:
coleus Kong mosaic
coleus stained glassworks copper
coleus stained glassworks kiwi fern
coleus sun dark choc
coleus sun choc covered cherry