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Coleus thrives in containers as well as planted in the ground, and can survive tough conditions. If properly fed and watered, coleus can reach over 2 feet tall! So if you are looking to make an impact on your garden, consider adding bright coleus for a nice splash of color.
Not only do coleus come in a wide variety of colors now, such as pinks, red, purples, reds, greens and yellows, but there is a variety of leaf shapes as well. Some coleus leaves are small with ruffles, whereas others are large with bold ripples. No matter your preference, and no matter where you plan to plant coleus, in the sun or shade, there is likely a variety that will work splendidly in your garden!
Should you choose to grow coleus in pots it will require a bit more preparation and maintenance than coleus grown outdoors, but the results will be stunning.
Consider also the placement when it comes to colors you’ll place together. Do you wish to go from light to dark colors? Or do you want a more intense impact by placing dark and light colors together? Always consult the planting instructions to see whether the variety you intend to plant in a certain spot does better in sunnier or shadier locations.
Coleus planted in the garden should be treated as an annual; it won't withstand cold winters. If you are wanting to use coleus in the garden next year, consider taking several cuttings to grow indoors during the winter, then replanting them in the garden during the spring (see propagation tips below).
Maintain the overall shape and health of your coleus with regular pruning. Coleus left unattended may tend to look “leggy” instead of compact and bushy.
Remove blooms or leaves that look unattractive with sterilized clippers. Not only does this improve the overall look of your plant, it allows the plant to focus energy into producing other foliage.
Pinching coleus in the spring promotes lateral branching instead of all upward growth. Wherever you pinch, two or more stems will start growing outward, the place where you pinched won’t grow upward anymore.
Remove inner branches to produce larger leaves on a plant. Or make a tree-shaped plant by removing the lower branches on the plant.
Don’t worry if your coleus has been neglected for a long period of time. You can actually revive the plant by cutting away the clearly dead portion of the plant, and then plopping the plant into a new pot. Water the new plant thoroughly. No need to apply a fertilizer; coleus is very hardy.
Winterize coleus by using the propagating techniques. Coleus left outside during the cold winter months will die back, but propagating the plant and growing it indoors will allow you to have a large plant ready as soon as spring weather allows. Make sure to take plenty of cuttings, just in case one or more doesn’t take root.
Question: Why do coleus leaves droop and curl?
Answer: If your coleus plants leaves are drooping and curling it likely has downy mildew, which most commonly occurs in greenhouses. Help prevent downy mildew by watering your plant at the soil level so that the foliage doesn't get wet. Inspect your plant for any mildew (such as black spots) and remove infected areas with sterilized shears. If the problem is pervasive, you may have to toss the plant out completely to avoid infecting other plants- but be sure to place a plastic bag over the plant before removing it, you wouldn't want to spread more spores around.
Question: Regarding Coleus plants, is it best to cut the long stems that grow up the top with little purple flowers?
Answer: Although the purple flower most commonly grows in the summer months, removing the flower is totally up to you. If you prefer a bushier plant, go ahead and remove the bloom, this allows the plant to focus energy into growth instead.
Question: How deep should I plant coleus?
Answer: If starting from seed, plant the coleus seed three to four inches deep. If transplanting from a pot, I suggest digging a hole about the same size as the root ball. Ideally, the plant should be level with the surrounding soil.
Diane Lockridge (author) from Atlanta, GA on October 27, 2019:
Re: stopping bugs from eating leaves of coleus
Without knowing what type of bug is attacking your plant I'll make a few suggestions.
If you suspect slugs are a problem, apply earth powder around the base of the plant. This deters slugs by piercing their body and dehydrating them.
If you suspect whiteflies, install a yellow sticky trap nearby. Whiteflies are attracted to the color yellow.
Al DiMasi on October 11, 2019:
What can I use to stop an apparent bug from eating the leaves of my coleus plant ? I cannot visibly see any bug even with a magnifying glass.