Coleus Saves The Day
Have you been feeling a little blue as you watch the lively colors of summer begin to drain away? Well, during that awkward period between when bright summer flowers start to fade away and more muted autumn colors begin to dominate the landscape, colorful coleus leaves save the day.
Coleus plants are tender tropical plants that are grown for their leaves, not their flowers. These plants are extremely easy to grow and are very inexpensive (if you buy them when they are small in the early spring). Give them plenty of room when you plant them because they spread readily. Although they can be grown in part shade, their colors are more vibrant if they get 6-8 hours of full sun. They can tolerate the summer heat in hotter latitudes but need lots of water and soft and well-drained soil. Pinch back the flowers to allow the leaves to grow. There are many varieties with different color combinations, shapes, textures, and growth habits. Although coleus can be paired with other plants and flowers, I like to group them together by themselves. That way, I will have a section of the garden that becomes the new focal point as the flowers slowly disappear in late summer/early fall.
I also like to place my coleus in front of large and tall evergreens (such as pine and rhododendron) and above a green succulent (sedum - stonecrop). The lush green background and foreground help bring out the vibrant colors in the coleus, particularly these red/purple varieties. (Red and green are complementary colors and therefore tend to intensify each other when placed together.)
|Coleus with green background and foreground|
Coleus also looks great cascading over stones and boulders, as well as over pots and planters.
|Coleus and sedum in rock garden|
Experiment with coleus next spring --
you will love them!Christa
Because coleus are tropical plants, they are usually grown in most parts of the US as annulas. The good news is, they are extremely easy to root. Cut a few healthy branches towards the middle or end of fall before the plants die, place them in water, and let them sit by a sunny window (no direct sun). Change the water periodically, and just watch them root! You can start your new plants outside in the spring; in the meantime, you will have pretty colors in your house during the cold winter months.