Coleus – Color All Season!

National Garden Bureau

Coleus has a long history of use in our gardens as a foliage plant and with new varieties each year, coleus has become an indispensable plant for many gardeners.

This member of the mint family comes in a wide range of foliage coloration, leaf texture, and plant form. Considered a herbaceous perennial in its native range of Southeast Asia, coleus are used primarily as annuals. Previously grouped into different species or classified as hybrids, coleus are now all placed under Solenostemon scutellarioides.

While modern coleus breeding focuses on new color combinations and foliage characteristics, other considerations of sun tolerance, delayed flowering, more prolific branching and unique forms have also become more prominent recently.

Coleus: Shade, Sun or Both?

Coleus has long been considered a shade plant but they thrive well in part shade and can languish in deep shade. In fact, their best leaf coloration is achieved with morning sun and some degree of afternoon shade. For varieties that do well in both shade and part sun, look for these series:

  • ColorBlaze
  • Fairway
  • Superfine Rainbow
  • Main Street
  • Kong

Some varieties can take quite a bit of sun as long as they are not allowed to dry out.  For sunny areas, consider the series of …

  • Stained Glassworks
  • Wizard
  • Versa
  • Marquee
  • Or any variety with the word sun in its name.

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