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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.