Coleus is a member of the mint family, with its characteristic square stems and oppositely arranged leaves. It is actually a heat-loving herbaceous perennial but is usually treated as an annual.
Although coleus does flower but it is grown for its brightly beautiful colored leaves. The plant grows in sun to partial shade and requires a lot of water. Coleus reaches 20 to 24 inches tall but trailing types can be used in hanging pots. Pinch young plants or older, leggy plants to encourage branching for a fuller plant. Coleus may be used as a potted plant indoors in a sunny window or outdoors in part sun. They are sometimes planted en mass on 12 to 18 inch centers to add a splash of bright color to any landscape. A mass planting looks nice with a backdrop of green shrubs. Remove flower spikes as they appear to encourage more foliage growth. Cold wet soils and poor cultural practices can result in leaf drop.
PLANTING AND CARE
Coleus plants should be grown in the garden in bright, indirect light, or in partial shade. The lower growing dwarf varieties (6-12 inch) will create a colorful border, or you can use the taller types as a dramatic background planting.
Many Coleus plants will survive full sun exposure but the foliage color is often enhanced when they are grown in the shade.
Coleus is also quite striking when they are planted in a container and grown as a house plant. By removing the flower spikes as they develop, and keeping the plant pinched back, the Coleus can be kept growing as a perennial for several seasons.
CARE FOR COLEUS PLANT
Caring for coleus is just as easy. They need to be kept moist, especially newly planted coleus. Container plants also require more frequent watering than those grown in the garden. Although it’s not required, the plants can be given a boost of half-strength liquid fertilizer during their active growth in spring and summer. Their spiked flowers usually appear in summer; however, these can be removed if desired. You can also pinch the shoots of young coleus plants to produce bushier growth. Another factor in coleus care is overwintering, as these plants, which are considered tender annuals, are highly susceptible to cold temperatures. Therefore, they must either be dug up, potted, and brought indoors for overwintering or grown through cuttings to establish additional plants.