Coleus come in a variety of leaf colors, including red, pink, orange, yellow, chartreuse, green, burgundy, and purple. Leaves 1-6 inches long can be pointed, oval or curved, many with intricate veins or patterns. Coleus blooms in late summer, with blue flower spikes that are often clipped for a neater appearance. Although most are shrub types, there are trailing varieties as well.
Tolerant of sun, shade and heat, Coleus is a fast grower that can be collected in the landscape, used as a filler in a container or allowed to fall in a hanging basket or window box. With hundreds of different varieties to choose from, there’s a coleus to suit any garden style or color scheme.
PLANTING & CARE OF COLEUS
How to plant: Wait until temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees F before planting outdoors.
Coleus do best in partial to full shade, although many newer varieties can tolerate full sun. For optimal leaf color, choose a location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. See more foliage plants for shade.
Follow these growing tips and keep 1-2 inches apart, depending on variety:
Loosen the soil in the planting area to a depth of 6-12”.
Remove the plant from the nursery pot and loosen the roots if potted.
Set the plant in the hole with the top of the root ball level with the surrounding soil.
Backfill the hole with soil and press down lightly to remove air pockets.
Water regularly until the plants are established.
Soil: Coleus prefer rich soil with good drainage. Compacted, clay or poorly draining soil can lead to root rot.
Watering: Coleus plants do best with evenly moist soil. Water when the top 1-2” of soil feels dry to the touch. Give more water during prolonged heat or dry spells. Overwatering can cause root rot.
Fertilization: At the time of planting, apply a slow-release all-purpose fertilizer as directed. Supplement with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once a month.
Pruning: Pinch stem tips of young plants to promote branching and a full bushy habit. Cut off flower spikes when they appear to give energy back to the foliage.
Containers: Coleus are excellent container plants, as a stand-alone accent, or as a thriller or player element in combination with other plants. Use high-quality all-purpose potting soil and make sure the containers have adequate drainage holes.