Coleus works both inside and out.

Without bloom, the richly vibrant foliar colors of coleus, Coleus scutellarioides, rival floral color of other warm season annuals. Striking foliar patterns are as exquisite as any floral display. Growth is efficient through the warmth of spring. Foliage might last until autumn. Late in its season, spikes of tiny blue flowers can be trimmed off to promote more foliage. 

With bright ambient sunlight, coleus is more perennial as a houseplant. However, it may get persistent with pesky bloom as it matures. Some who grow it prefer to let bloom, and then prune it back afterward. Recovery from such pruning can be slow. Vegetative stems, without bloom, root easily as cuttings even in water. New cuttings can replace old plants. 

Coleus foliage is intricately variegated with countless combinations of green, chartreuse, yellow, orange, red, burgundy, pink, white and brown. Variegation can be symmetrical or random. Leaf margins may be deeply lobed or just serrate. Modern cultivars might be no better than old fashioned sorts. Mature plants can get as tall and broad as about two feet. Some stay lower.


12 thoughts on “Coleus

    1. ?! That is sort of what I thought; but I did not want to say so. Although there are many within mixes that are comparable to the traditional sorts, the modern cultivars seem to be less ‘interesting’.

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      1. I have grown 19 named varieties plus 13 I don’t know the names of. I do have my favorites and I used to overwinter cuttings when I lived in Mississippi but I can’t do that here. Until 2019, the greenhouse I shop at the most had a nice selection of varieties I was familiar with. The past few years, they haven’t had the selection and by the time I went there the quality was not good either. Of course, with Coleus, I could have brought plants home and taken cuttings and started them over. They just didn’t have any I was interested in… I may have to do that next year anyway. The flower bed on the north side of the house isn’t the same without Coleus. 🙂

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      2. ‘Coleus Mix’ was what we got as bedding plants, along modern with named cultivars. The modern named cultivars were what I though were boring. I do not know enough about the old cultivars to have a preference, but to me, the mix resembled the old mix better. They have likely been grown from seed over the years, so may have ‘evolved’ somewhat, but are still quite colorful. Gee, now I sort of wonder if the old sorts that I remember were actually cultivars. They were not popular as bedding plants here. They were instead houseplants.


      3. Well, I had been out of the loop for around 20 years, so I don’t remember much about the older cultivars. I am only familiar with what has been available since 2009. Have you visited Rosy Dawn Gardens website? You can edit out that question if you like. 🙂

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      4. No. Coleus had not been a priority for me. I had been wanting to grow them again, but only encountered them at work because someone else procured a few as bedding plants. I was not impressed with what was supposed to be the impressive modern cultivars, but really like the old fashioned types. Why should that question be deleted?


      5. Just in case you didn’t want a company mentioned in a comment. They are Coleus specialists… OLD and (fairly) new. I hadn’t been to the site for a couple of years (until now, you rascal) but they have patented and un-patented names in all shapes, sizes and colors. GEEZ! Most I have never heard of before (99.9999999%).

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      6. Oh, my! You should leave while you can. (I did that a few years ago with cannas. I just looked up ‘Ermine’ at a nursery in Pennsylvania, and got carried away until I reminded myself why I was there.) I do not mind the mention of a reputable business. I just avoid mentioning those that are not so reputable, as you may have noticed in my rant last Wednesday.

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  1. This is a favorite of mine, my Mom’s and my grandmothers! I had them in planters on the front porch this past summer and they were gorgeous and liked the spot I picked for them. I’ve had them grow as tall as three feet and very thick. I grew these from seed in my greenhouse and then transplanted when the weather warmed and they really took off. I love all of them but especially the ones with red/burgundy tones. The year before I had the chocolate coleus but couldn’t find the seed in 2021.

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    1. It seems to me that they were popular as houseplants in the 1970s. That was how I knew them. I did not know that they were bedding plants until after 1990. I am pleased that they are regaining popularity, at least here.


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