A Gardener’s Guide - How to Grow Coleus


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A Gardener’s Guide - How to Grow Coleus

Coleus scutellarioides, commonly known as coleus, is a species of flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae

One in series of gardening guides on cultivating well-liked plants

By Mark Zuleger-Thyss


Coleus is a tropical plant grown for its highly ornamental foliage – in fact, it is decidedly showy. Coleuses are highly useful annuals where summers are long, hot, and humid. They love to lap up the heat, but most varieties need a bit of shade.

Coleus mixes well in combination with other summer annuals. They have a remarkable variety in leaf colors and markings.


Size, Use & Placement

A solitary coleus plant can grow between 12 and 40 inches high. Depending on the variety, they produce foliage between 12 and 36 inches across.

Coleus can be used as an accent plant in garden beds, but its primary value is a container plant. You can also group Coleus as an edging plant. You can admire Coleus alone or with two or three other coleus varieties. They make a dazzling display alongside other annuals, tropicals, and grasses.

Pick large enough containers to support their assigned variety. You might find single Coleus will need a pot at least nine inches across. Groupings of several Coleus varieties will need even larger container sizes. Coleus foliage will be a goliath of any collection where you might find smaller leafed plants such as helichrysum, calibrachoas, and petunias.

Coleus has enough visual heft to hold its own. It is useful when playing with textural combinations, especially in scaled-up displays and against the more giant leaves of the elephant ear plant, for example.

Foliage colors include different shades of green, orange, and red. Coleuses are so varied that you can use them every summer for years without repeating color combos. They have a wide range of hues and patterns, and these features permit you to experiment with planting color arrangements.





 Planting & Care

Coleuses prefer locations where they will receive morning sun but then shade in the afternoon. Some varieties have been developed to perform well in a deeper shade and in full sun. Match the suitable type to your particular weather conditions. Those that take sunnier conditions still need humid climates to avoid leaf scorching.

Coleus responds well to enriched soil, regular watering, and monthly feedings. Invest in a good-quality potting mix when growing them in containers. You must allow your pots to drain. Also, pinching of stem tips will promote bushiness. Remove flower spikes to keep Coleus foliage looking its best.

Watch out for pests if you want to bring Coleus plants indoors for winter. Cuttings taken in fall easily root in water. They can then be grown for the following year.

Coleus plants are eye-dazzlers – leafy and luxurious - easy-going with impossibly colorful leaves. They're outstanding on their own in a flowerpot, and the flash of color their foliage provides lights up any flower bed. Coleus varieties are laid-back tropical plants grown for their leaves and not for their flowers.

The Coleus plant teaches us that although we differ from one another, we are all special and unique in our own way. Consider Coleuses as a sign that you can make something great and worthwhile happen in your own life.



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