Georgia Gardener Newsletter Design Tip: April 6, 2006

Mixed Coleus

Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)

Coleus used to a plant that was relegated to the shade garden. However, in the early 1990's, plant breeders began working with the plants to "toughen" and make them adaptable to sun. Grown for their foliage, there are so many varieties in so many colors that it's impossible to list them all.

Coleus is a summer annual that shouldn't be planted in north Georgia until sometime in early April. Any earlier and you run the risk of losing them to a late frost. Pinch back the plants periodically to keep them full and bushy. Although they flower with blooms usually blue in color, most gardeners remove the blooms to encourage fuller foliage.

Plant coleus in full sun with well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. They tend to wilt if they become too dry. As a group, different varieties of coleus can be used as companion plantings. They also mix well with other sun-loving annuals and perennials such as lantana, Joseph's coat, sweetflag or Marguerite sweet potato vine and can be used in containers.

For more information on coleus, visit this website.

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