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Coleus Plectranthus scutellarioides

Growing Coleus: Tips at a Glance

A tropical foliage plant with dramatic gem-colored leaves, coleus can brighten up a shady corner of the garden or add drama to a the color scheme in a planter. Consider coleus an annual unless you live in USDA Zone 10 or higher (or bring it indoors in pots during winter months).

  • Type Tropical foliage plant
  • Lifespan Perennial
  • USDA Zones 10-13
  • Light Shade
  • Water Keep moist
  • Soil Well-drained
  • Design Tip Jolt of color
  • Companions Bromeliad, clivia
  • Peak Season Warm months

Coleus: A Field Guide

Tropical plant coleus has foliage with paint-by-numbers colors and patterns: purple stripes, chartreuse edges, or deep veins of burgundy running through creamy white leaves.

Is the color of coleus jarring? Maybe at first. But once you start experimenting with color combinations, you’ll find it mixes well in planters with purples, pinks, and even shades of orange. In a shady corner of the garden, Plectranthus scutellarioides can add a bolt of color where you long ago  gave up hoping for brightness.

A native of warm climates, coleus cannot abide frost or (God forbid) snow, sleet, or ice. If you live a growing zones where temperatures dip below freezing, consider coleus an annual or bring it inside during cold months. You can also root cuttings easily; all you need is a glass of water and a stem snipped off a coleus plant. For more tips on growing and care, see Gardening 101: Coleus.

Planting, Care & Design of Coleus

More About Coleus

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