Tropical plants grown for their brilliantly colored leaves. Blue flower spikes are attractive, but they spoil the plant’s shape and are best pinched out in bud (pinching also encourages more vigorous leafy growth).
Seed-grown, large-leaf strains, such as Giant Exhibition and Oriental Splendor, grow 1 1/2–2 ft. tall and wide, with leaves 3–6 in. long. Plants in the Kong series have leaves up to 8 in. long. Dwarf strains such as Carefree, Fairway, and Wizard grow to 8–12 in. tall and wide, with leaves 1–1 1/2 in. long. Colors include green, chartreuse, yellow, buff, salmon, orange, red, purple, and brown; a single leaf often shows many colors. The more red pigment the foliage has, the more sun-tolerant the plant tends to be. Most coleus perform best in strong indirect light or light shade, but the relatively new, cutting-grown “sun coleus” also thrive in sun; they come in a variety of leaf colors, shapes, and plant habits. The ColorBlaze series is late blooming and may not bloom at all in cool climates. Selections grow to 24–36 in. tall, come in a huge range of colors and leaf shapes, and can be grown in sun or shade. Many coleus are useful for summer borders, containers, and hanging baskets.
Coleus are perennial in frost-free regions, but you’ll typically get the best performance by starting new plants annually from seed or cuttings—which is easy to do. Plant in spring. Sow seeds indoors or, with frost protection, outdoors when weather is warm. Cuttings will root in water as well as other media. Started plants need warm temperatures and rich, loose, well-drained soil. Feed plants regularly with high-nitrogen fertilizer. Pinch stems often to encourage compact habit.
Native to the Caribbean Islands and tropical America. A popular street tree in Hawaii’s dry lowl...
Tropical plants grown for their brilliantly colored leaves. Blue flower spikes are attractive, but the...
Usually grown as an annual evereywhere, this is one of the best bedding plants for shade. Rapid, vigor...