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Coleus Plants – One of my Favorite Annuals for Color

Coleus plants add color to a garden bed like very few other plants do.

I am always looking for plants to give my garden a burst of color which will last throughout the season.  I plant the normal flowering annuals such as pansies, petunias, zinnias and others. 

But there is one variety which gives huge color impact, and is one of my all time favorites.  They are coleus plants. 

I particularly love the because I can buy one plant of each color pattern and take cuttings from it all season to give me free plants in all my garden beds.Coleus is such an amazing plant. It does flower but the leaves are what make it such a showpiece. The variety of leaf shape and colors is just amazing. You can even train it to grow into a tree shape!

You Can’t Beat Coleus Plants for Summer Color

Coleus are very easy to grow. Just follow these steps:

Starting seeds for coleus plants

Start seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost is expected in your area

If you get any seedlings that are all green, just weed those out. You want color for your seedlings.

Coleus has an amazing variety of colors from deep orange through to black, pinks and yellows.


Where to position coleus

When the weather is warm and the danger of frost has passed, plant the seedlings in a sunny area that gets 6 hours or more of sun a day.

Even though coleus likes sunlight, I have also planted them in semi-shady spot with good success.

Soil and watering needs for coleus plants

Be sure the soil drains well and water regularly.  Adding compost or other organic matter will help with drainage.

The plants will wilt if allowed to dry out and get very spindly.

Flowers and pruning tips for coleus

This Coleus Blackberry waffle shows a typical flower. Since they are relatively insignificant, you will want to pinch the growing tips.

This will encourage your plants to get more bushy. Image Credit: Flickr.Coleus Black berry waffle.

I also pinch off the growing stems, so that the plants will stay bushy. Coleus has a tendency to get leggy if not pinched out.


Propagating coleus plants

Coleus roots easily from cuttings any time during the growing season.

I like to take cuttings in the fall and root them indoors in soil or water.  That way you will have new plants to put out next spring. 

Pruning tips

Coleus can be shaped in many ways.  Many people leave them to grow randomly, but the plant can be pruned into a tree shape.

Just start with a plant which has a strong, straight stem.  Pinch off the lower leaves so the stem shows, being sure to leave a lot of growth on the top.

When the plant gets to the height that you want, pinch out the growing tip. This will encourage two branches to develop.

Let those grow a bit and pinch each again. Every time you pinch a growing tip, two more will sprout out.  

Keep pinching until you have the shape you desire.

Coleus can be trained to grow into a tree shape.

Here are some that are giving me color this year. Next year I will have many, many more varieties.  

Coleus plants seem to withstand the heat here in North Carolina well, even in the 100 plus degree heat that we had this year for two weeks in a row. 

Some are planted in a garden bed that gets full afternoon sun and are still doing very well.
coleus plants

The variety of leaf shape and color of coleus plants is just amazing. I love the varieties with scalloped edges.
coleus plants

Coleus is a fast growing plant and fill fill in a large area of your garden in no time at all.  


The next picture shows a side of my island bed with coleus, sweet potato vine, zinnias and salvia.  All did really well this year, in spite of the heat.

coleus and sweet potato vine

One thing to remember for keeping coleus plants from getting too spindly is to dead head the flower stalks that form. 

They are not very showy compared to the leaves, anyway, and dead heading the flowers makes the plants much bushier and the leaves larger.

I am also going to plant coleus from seed next year.  I did this with zinnias this year and had lots of cut flowers all summer for very little money outlay.

Are you a flower person, or do you like your color to come from the leaves, like it does with a coleus?  Are there other colorful leaved plants that you are fond of?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

For more gardening ideas and inspiration, be sure to visit my Pinterest Gardening Board.

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sarah @ {Home-ology} modern vintage

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014

Such a performer. I never tire of coleus!


Tuesday 22nd of July 2014

Me either Sarah. I plant them every year. Nothing like those colors! Carol

Pamela @

Tuesday 22nd of July 2014

I love coleus, I usually start several colorful varieties from seed in the Spring but missed doing that this year. I do miss them. I tried overwintering them inside and they did well for a bit then all of a sudden they would die. But since they are so easy to start again from seed I don't worry much. Thank you for sharing yours!

Sheri Brasington

Sunday 30th of June 2013

I used to garden every day until an accident and this is the first year in my yard in about 6 years. I have had so much to catch up on. I planted 4 coleus this year and some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. I broke a piece off and put it in a bird bath planter and it took right off. I just wanted to ask, do you ever try to save any of the coleus over the winter? I saw o pinterest a greenhouse made from old door I had thought about building one for plants I want to keep over the winter and taking some cuttings and give them time to root before having to bring them in for the winter and give it a try. If you have had any luck or tried it with a different method, please let me know your secrets. Thank You!


Sunday 30th of June 2013

If you bring the coleus inside for the winter either if you have them in pots or by taking cuttings they will survive.

I've never been able to get them to overwinter outside though.

When I lived in Australia, I had coleus as houseplants all year long.



Tuesday 18th of June 2013

I used to plant these all the time. I love them.

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