Coleus is one of the rare plants that are grown almost exclusively for its colorful foliage. In this regard, they are like Croton, but smaller and perhaps easier to grow which is why one of the common names for Coleus is “Poor man’s Croton” or “Painted Nettle”. Coleus (Solenostemon spp. Or Plectranthus spp.), have some of the most stunning colored foliage: in color combinations of green, electric lime, yellow, shocking pink, red, maroon, purple-black, orange, chocolate, sizzling gold varieties with many different patterns. The effect is breathtaking, fun, creating a festive ambience in the garden, indoor and outdoors living areas.
Coleus also has a wide variety of leaf sizes, overall shapes and textures. Features of being large, small, twisted, elongated, scalloped, lobed, finger like, “duck’s foot” “under sea bone fish” etc. This overall foliage shape, affected by these other features, can be quite ornamental and add to the impact of the plant in combination with the colors. Leaf texture of Coleus should be a serious consideration when selecting and using Coleus, as the visual contribution can be significant. Coleus are gorgeous plants grown from day one for the striking foliage, which helps make a bold garden statement. This means that no matter what area you are looking to put Coleus, you can find one that will be perfect. There is such a fabulous array of exciting colors from new hybrid and cultivars that these plants are great for adding color in the garden or home, especially in those dark, dull looking corners.
Experience the renaissance of dramatic colors by adding these gorgeous plants to your garden. They are also the ultimate low maintenance plant.Coleus is a genus of herbaceous tropical plants native to the areas bordering the equator. It falls in the Lamiaceae, or mint family along with nettles and other familiar herbs with the familiar square stem and opposite leaves. They love the heat and technically are perennials, but will happily grow as annuals in cold climate and just about any garden.
Coleus breeders have developed a host of leaf forms and plant sizes over 200 hybrids and a whole lot more cultivars for choice. The wide range of Coleus can be grouped into three basic plants forms, including upright, rounded and prostrate/trailing. Mature Size Coleus plant size varies from dwarf types to the towering. “Religious Radish” which grows over three feet tall. In fact, Coleus are often trained into standards (miniature trees)
Plant Coleus in full sun or shade, providing the right light level is the secret to coaxing maximum color from leaves. The old-fashioned seed-grown Coleus does best in partial shade, but the newer vegetative cultivated varieties have their best color if grown in full sun.Color change can be affected by temperature, available sunlight and soil fertility. Most Coleus plants don’t tolerate direct, sustained sunlight.
Propagation: Seed and Stem Cuttings
Coleus is a good-natured plant that is pretty hard to kill and quite easy to propagate. Coleuses are very easy to grow from seed, and its fun to see the different color of plant that will grow from one packet of seed. Germination takes 10-12 days. You can always start new plants with 2-inch cuttings taken from healthy mature plants. Plant cuttings in moist potting soil, then keep them moist until new plants are established. Rooting can also take place in a glass of water.
Soil: Coleus are said to prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline soil pH, but Coleus will grow in a wide range of soil conditions, including clay, sand, loam and acidic soils. However, soils high in organic matter are best, and well-drained soil is essential. Coleus shouldn’t be allowed to dry out completely.
Watering: For the first seven to ten days of planting, water to keep the soil around the root ball moist. After that, water deeply when the top 1inch of soil dries out.
Fertilizing: You will get the best out of you 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.
Pinch/Prune: Pinch growing tips out of young Coleus plants to encourage branching. Plants stop producing full-size leaves once blossoms appear. Many gardeners pinch out flower spikes as soon as spotted, so plant will put all its energy into the foliage. Some new Coleus don’t produce flowers. Without regular pruning, Coleus can get ‘leggy’ and unattractive. As long as you prune and cut back regularly your Coleus should stay bushy and pretty.
Coleus adapt readily to containers, which provide a great place to showcase their exquisite colorations. Mix and match with annuals that open flowers in contrasting or matching hues, or plant them solo to let them steal the spotlight. Create all foliage planting by blending Coleus with trailing sweet potato vines and delicate ferns.
Use soilless mix developed for containers. Container plants also require more frequent watering and nutrients than those grown in the garden. You will need to pinch them back occasionally, to get their size in check.
It is hard to go wrong with Coleus, large quilt-like plantings of assorted coleus in the garden look luscious. They also mix well in borders and containers. You can match the leaves with flowers that echo their color or with colors that complement them. Most Coleus are good size for the front border and they look best planted in groups.
Coleus As Accent Plants
You’ll find a Coleus color to complement any plant. Using a single variety of Coleus en masse makes a bold statement and is a great way to bring other colors alive.
Most Coleus plants look good when planted together. The colors of Coleus plants all seem to work together. You can create an entire garden with just Coleus and it will be in full color all season.
When using these plants in the garden, remember that colorful Coleus will have immediate and dramatic impact in the garden. Consider the merits of each variety as it relates to foliage color, leaf texture, plant form and of course, landscape function, proper replacement and proactive site preparation prior to planting. Solid-color Coleus varieties such as Redhead and Lime Delight Premium Sun (both bred for the sun) can be very impactful and make a statement in the mixed border, while those with variable coloration may become “color echoes” for neighboring plants with similar (or contrasting) flower and/or foliage colors. The repetition of certain Coleus color and form can lend unity and harmony in the garden. While a solitary specimen can add a punch of color, consider the impact of mass planting as well. While Coleus can do well as “role players,” they can also be elite members of your “leading cast” Foliage with lighter coloration can provide illumination in shadier locations, while dark colors (for example, any coleus with Chocolate in its name) in the same setting will create depth and contrast.
Those with a lot of irregular color and the paint-splatter look tend to produce a less dramatic presence on a large scale application. They may be fascinating up close as a house or patio plant, but in the garden they tend to get lost. But a few varieties with strong clear color patterns are the best outdoor garden attention getters. Consider Coleus just one of many available tools in your gardening design toolbox. Keep in mind that the wide range of leaf textures available, independent of color, should also be considered a potential ornament asset-as should plant form. The Coleus plants gives you a creative opportunity to get your garden makeover started with brilliant color without a single flower in sight.
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