Common Name: coleus
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: Malaysia, southeastern Asia
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 0.50 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: Blue to white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Suggested Use: Annual
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Tolerate: Heavy Shade
Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11. In St. Louis, grow as garden annuals or in pots that can be overwintered indoors or as houseplants. Grow in moist, organically rich, loose soils in part shade. Tolerates full shade. Some recently developed cultivars tolerate full sun. Soils must not be allowed to dry out. Remove flower spikes as they appear. Pinch plant stem tips to keep plants compact and to promote bushiness. Seed cultivars can be started indoors from seed 8-12 weeks before last frost date. Inexpensive starter plants (in small pots or flats) can be purchased from most nurseries in spring for beds and containers. Containers may be brought inside in fall before frost for overwintering. Similarly, favorite plants may be dug and potted in fall for overwintering as houseplants. Cuttings from favorite plants (easily rooted in a glass of water or in clean potting soil) can also be taken in fall for overwintering.
Coleus is a tropical tender perennial that has been a popular foliage plant since at least Victorian times. It has been assiduously hybridized over the years into a very large number of vegetatively propagated and seed propagated strains with an almost infinite number of leaf color combinations including most colors of the spectrum except true blue. Hybrids range in size from dwarf 6” tall plants to large mounded 36” tall plants. Four-sided stems are semi-succulent. Showy multi-colored leaves are generally ovate to oblong and toothed. Leaves frequently feature mixtures of colors in irregular patterns. Blue to white nettle-like flowers (more common on seed strains) bloom in racemes in summer, but are not showy and tend to visually detract from the symmetry and attractiveness of the plants. The genus Solenostemon is synonymous with and formerly known as Coleus.
No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for aphids, spider mites and whiteflies, particularly on indoor plants. Plants grown in too much sun may wilt. Plants grown in too much shade may become leggy.
Group or mass as garden annuals in beds and borders. Pots, containers, window boxes, hanging baskets. Houseplants.