coleus

How You Can Grow Coleus In The Shade Garden

It’s an easy-to-grow shade garden plant that does well in container gardens as well.

Coleus ‘Fishnet Stockings’
Coleus ‘Fishnet Stockings’ from Proven Winners

Coleus is usually grown for its amazing foliage and not for the flowers. Luckily, they are easy to grow, easy to start from seed or cuttings and have a wonderful range of both colored leaves as well as leaf sizes.

They’re low maintenance. No picking of flowers and if they do produce them later in the season, I recommend you simply snip them off.

Quick Growing Details

  • Sun exposure — grow mostly in part-shade to shade although there are a fewadvertised varieties that will handle more sunshine than others. I note that many plant labels say “sun” as a general rule but in my experience, this is a shade plant.
  • Planting: Generally, coleus are planted about 2/3 of their height apart (give or take) An 18-inch coleus is then planted 12-inches apart.
  • Water and feed; It prefers a steady supply of water and regular plant food. In containers, I use a liquid fish emulsion in containers (Amazon paid link) and regular compost in the gardens. (Although I have been known to pump up the growth now and then with the fish emulsion.)
  • Pruning: If you want it to bush out, prune off the growing tips. Pinch off any flowers that develop, they’re not attractive and take away from the beauty of the foliage.
  • Cold tolerance: It is not frost hardy — a whiff of frost and it is pretty much done.
  • Height: it varies by variety — from low 18-inch plants to taller 36-inch varieties.
  • Propagation of hybrids is by taking cuttings

Some Coleus I’m Testing In My Garden

Coleus ‘Rediculous’
Coleus ‘Rediculous‘ from Proven Winners

Coleus ‘Rediculous (Proven Winners is under trial this year and I’ll have notes about its performance as the season progresses. Let me start by saying this plant was sent to me for test purposes.

Initial impression: early July. It’s growing well in the shade garden even in the high heat we’ve been experiencing.

After Season Report: Excellent plant. Good growth. No flowers so that was good. If I were growing it again, I’d pinch the top growth when it hit 12-inches tall to make it bush out a bit more. Plant next to a brighter colored plant to make it stand out in the shade.

Coleus ‘Colorblaze Alligator Tears’ Proven Winners

Coleus ‘Colorblaze Alligator Tears’ from Proven Winners. Good variegated coleus and it grow well in the deep shade. It did flower later in the season, unfortunately (I dislike coleus flowers as I grow them for the foliage) but given I gave it really poor soil and almost no care it was a good plant. I think it would be a much better plant if somebody loved it a little more and kept it well-pinched and bushy. (The one I planted out in the better garden was “enjoyed” by some critter)

Well worth a try if you like the variegation coloring.

I’ve grown this plant and it performed very well in my own garden. It made an excellent container plant for me (could be grown in a garden as well) and it contrasts nicely with the lighter — golden toned — coleus.

  • Height: 24–36 inches
  • Spread 18–24 inches
  • Growth habit: upright

Coleus ‘Torchlight’
Good variegated coleus and it grow well in the deep shade. It did flower later in the season, unfortunately (I dislike coleus flowers as I grow them for the foliage) but given I gave it really poor soil and almost no care it was a good plant. I think it would be a much better plant if somebody loved it a little more and kept it well-pinched and bushy. (The one I planted out in the better garden was “enjoyed” by some critter)

Well worth a try if you like the variegation colouring.

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