ColorBlaze® Dipt in Wine coleus. Photo by Proven Winners.

Easy-to-grow coleus plants aren’t just for shade anymore. Heat and sun-tolerant varieties are widely available, making them a popular choice for many areas, and their bold and beautiful foliage make them the center of attention no matter where they’re planted. Although technically an evergreen perennial, coleus are usually grown as annuals because these tender tropicals can’t handle even the slightest frost.

COLEUS BASICS

Zones:

Hardy to Zone 10, but can be overwintered indoors in colder areas.

Height/spread:

Varieties 6 inches to 3-1/2 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide.

Exposure:

Full sun to shade, depending on variety.

Bloom time:

Coleus plants will bloom with racemes of tiny white or bluish flowers any time of the year. However, plants that have been propagated from cuttings won’t flower as often, if at all.

Color & characteristics:

Coleus plants have an incredible range of natural color variation, but enthusiasts and breeders have taken them a step further with colors from bright chartreuse to hot pink to velvety near-black, and any number of combinations. There are plants with solid-colored foliage, and ones with heavily contrasted veining, stripes or splotches. Coleus leaves range from one to six-inches long, and also come in many different shapes and sizes. Coleus plants also have unique, square semi-succulent stems.

Toxicity:

Coleus are non-toxic to humans, but the sap can cause minor skin irritation. The essential oils they contain are toxic to dogs, cats and other animals.

Planting ColorBlaze® Dipt in Wine

PLANTING COLEUS

When to plant:

Start coleus seeds indoors, 8 to 12 weeks before last frost date. Transplants should only be planted long after the danger of frost has passed and soil has warmed to at least 60 degrees. Any amount of frost will damage coleus plants.

Where to plant:

The amount of light can have a dramatic impact on plant size and leaf color. For the best leaf color, a location that receives morning sun and dappled afternoon shade is best. Darker-leaved varieties tend to handle more sunlight better than those with lighter-colored leaves. Also, choose a wind-protected area, as their semi-succulent stems are prone to breakage.

COLEUS CARE

Maintenance:

Keep plants looking tidy and maintain their size and shape by pinching or trimming stem tips. To promote denser and more compact growth, pinch out flower spikes before they elongate. Since coleus are mainly grown for their colorful foliage, there’s no need to waste the plant’s energy on flowering or setting seed.

Soil:

Any average, moist, but well-drained soil suits them.

Amendments & fertilizer:

Feed regularly with a water-soluble or liquid fertilizer — about every 2 weeks for container-grown and every month for in-ground plants — to promote lusher growth and richer leaf colors.

Watering:

Water regularly. Coleus are thirsty plants, so keep the soil moist. However, avoid overly damp soil, as this can cause leaf drop. We recommend using self-watering containers.

Growing indoors:

Coleus do quite well when overwintered indoors as a houseplant. Place them in a sunny windowsill and rotate occasionally to provide even lighting. Provide supplement light with grow lights if needed.

Propagation:

Take cuttings in early fall and start them indoors over winter. Cuttings root easily in water or in a loose potting medium for overwintering, and they’ll be ready to move to the garden in spring.

Diseases & pests:

Keep an eye out for mealybugs and spider mites. Rutgers gives coleus plants as ‘C’ rating on their deer resistance list, stating they’re occasionally severely damaged.

Deer resistance:

Rutgers gives coleus plants as ‘C’ rating on their deer resistance list, stating they’re occasionally severely damaged.

COLORFUL COLEUS VARIETIES

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Proven Winners

ColorBlaze® Rediculous™Buy now from Proven Winners
Solenostemon scutellarioides

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in other areas

Height/Spread:

24 to 40 inches tall, 18 to 36 inches wide

Exposure:

Sun or shade

Color:

Red foliage

This red coleus brings bold contrast to container combinations and also works well in landscape applications.

Photo by: Proven Winners

Fishnet StockingsBuy now from Proven Winners
Solenostemon scutellarioides

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in other areas

Height/Spread:

24 to 36 inches tall, 12 to 16 inches wide

Exposure:

Partial shade to shade

Color:

Green and burgundy variegation

This award-winner is heat tolerant and perfect for use in baskets, beds and borders.

Photo by: Proven Winners

ColorBlaze® Dark StarBuy now from Proven Winners
Solenostemon scutellarioides

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in other areas

Height/Spread:

12 to 24 inches tall, 12 to 16 inches wide

Exposure:

Sun or shade

Color:

Dark purple

An easy-care coleus with stunning, dark purple foliage that holds its color all summer.

Photo by: Proven Winners

ColorBlaze® Lime Time™Buy now from Proven Winners
Solenostemon scutellarioides

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in other areas

Height/Spread:

24 to 40 inches tall, 18 to 30 inches wide

Exposure:

Sun or shade

Color:

Chartreuse

Bright, electric lime color will brighten up shady corners from spring until fall.

Photo by: Proven Winners

ColorBlaze® Dipt in WineBuy now from Proven Winners
Solenostemon scutellarioides

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in other areas

Height/Spread:

24 to 40 inches tall, 20 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Sun or shade

Color:

Crimson leaves with yellow center and lime green edges

Another award-winning, heat-tolerant coleus that is bound to make an impression.

Photo by: Proven Winners

Gays DelightBuy now from Proven Winners
Solenostemon scutellarioides

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in other areas

Height/Spread:

24 to 36 inches tall, 12 to 16 inches wide

Exposure:

Sun or shade

Color:

Lime green with black veining

A unique accent that will garner attention in any basket or planter combination.

Photo by: Kallayanee Naloka / Shutterstock

'Kong Rose'
Solenostemon scutellarioides

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in other areas

Height/Spread:

18 to 20 inches tall, 15 to 18 inches wide

Exposure:

Partial shade to shade

Color:

Shades of red framed with bright green edges

Large leaves with unique patterning, prefers full shade.

Photo by: Feng Yu / Shutterstock

Campfire
Solenostemon scutellarioides

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in other areas

Height/Spread:

14 to 28 inches tall, 14 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Sun or shade

Color:

Shades of orange

Dark orange foliage that stays vibrant in both sun and shade makes a big impact in mass plantings.

Photo by: Jaimie Tuchman / Shutterstock

Watermelon
Solenostemon scutellarioides

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in other areas

Height/Spread:

18 to 28 inches tall, 16 to 28 inches wide

Exposure:

Partial shade to shade

Color:

Shades of red framed with bright green edges

Add contrast and a punch of color to partially shady areas.

Photo by: ESB Essentials / Shutterstock

Wasabi
Solenostemon scutellarioides

Zones:

10-11, grown as an annual in other areas

Height/Spread:

18 to 28 inches tall, 16 to 28 inches wide

Exposure:

Sun to partial shade

Color:

Chartreuse

Add some spice to sunny or shady containers, beds or landscape border.

DESIGN IDEAS

The sheer assortment of colors, shapes and textures available makes coleus a much appreciated plant for containers, beds and borders.

Container featuring ColorBlaze® 'Sedona', ColorBlaze® Dipt in Wine, and ColorBlaze® Dark Star. Photo by Proven Winners.

  • Use trailing varieties like ColorBlaze® Chocolate Drop or Strawberry Drop to drape over the edges of hanging baskets.
  • Make a bold statement with a mass planting of a single variety.
  • Choose colors that compliment or add contrast to nearby plants or flowers.
  • Brighten a shady corner with light and bright colored foliage, like ColorBlaze® Lime Time™.
  • Give a big punch of color to a plain container with a vibrant, multi-colored coleus.
  • Use upright-growing types as a thriller and trailing types as a spiller for containers. (For more on container design, see the video Thriller, Filler, Spiller.)

RELATED:
Foliage Plants
Annual Plants

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