Coleus Coerulescens Plant
Coleus GARDEN designers know that when it comes to annuals, it's not just about the flowers — foliage matters, too. And when it comes to foliage, coleus tops the list. Though it has fallen in and out of favor over the past couple of centuries, this member of the mint family is popular again, and the selection is better than ever
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Coleus GARDEN designers know that when it comes to annuals, it's not just about the flowers — foliage matters, too. And when it comes to foliage, coleus tops the list. Though it has fallen in and out of favor over the past couple of centuries, this member of the mint family is popular again, and the selection is better than ever.
Coleus Planting & Care
How to Choose
The variability in patterns is amazing, with solid colors, splashes, blotches, streaks, flecks, margins and veins. Color intensity varies, depending on sunlight, heat sensitivity and other conditions. The term "sun coleus" refers to selections that tolerate more sun. The varieties with dark leaves tend to tolerate more sun, while lighter varieties need more shade to minimize leaf scorch. Morning sun and dappled afternoon shade tends to maintain consistent foliage coloration. Too little light will encourage a weak-stemmed, less vigorous plant without the best color.
Another variable to consider is leaf texture, which includes large, small, twisted, elongated, scalloped, lobed, finger-like, and "duck's foot" — they resemble webbed feet.
Burgundy Wedding Train is a trailing form, making it good for hanging baskets.
Coleus can be grouped into three plant forms: upright, rounded and trailing. Frequent snipping, pinching and trimming can help modify form although the trailing varieties have great value at the edge of a planter or in a hanging basket.
Planting and Care
Coleus has long been considered a shade plant but the best leaf color is achieved with morning sun and some degree of afternoon shade. Many varieties do well in both shade and part-sun. Some can take quite a bit of sun as long as they are not allowed to dry out. Avoid overly damp soils, which can cause leaf drop and encourage disease. Plant coleus after danger of frost has passed when soil temperatures have warmed sufficiently and evening temperatures are above 60 degrees F. Feed plants regularly with a water-soluble fertilizer, especially if they are growing in containers.
To maintain plant form, pinch back every few weeks to prevent flower formation. Pinch just above a set of leaves or branching junction for the best appearance; don't leave a stub. Some gardeners leave the small flowers, but it's best to pinch them off to direct more energy into stem and foliage growth. Coleus left to flower may lose vigor as the plant puts energy into seed production.
- 0.5 ft to 3ft