Grow: Coleus

Gone are the days when coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) was grown only in the shade. While coleus definitely brightens up a shady spot, new cultivars are now available that tolerate full, hot sun.

Coleus has long been prized for its foliage in a rainbow of colors. This rapidly growing annual varies in size—one foot tall to bushy or spreading types of three feet or more. Coleus prefers moist, well-drained soil. Pinch back the flower stalks in summer to encourage more colorful foliage. Like most annuals, the first frost will kill it.

Some of the sun-tolerant varieties include, ‘Under the Sun’ with maroon, gold and chartreuse leaves, ‘RedHead’ with bright red foliage, ‘Wasabi’ in lime green and ‘Alligator Tears’ with crocodile green foliage and a creamy-yellow tear drop center.

The ‘Under the Sea’ series from Hort Couture won the Garden Idol award from the American Nursery and Landscape Association, a fan favorite for its extreme frills and dazzling colors reminiscent of sea life on a coral reef.

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