Foliage fashionistas

Coleus, dressed in orangey reds, or deep maroons and bright greens, or solid limey green; any way you look at this group of plants you must admit they are foliage fashionistas  There are varieties for sun, shade, and anything in between.  Some are tall, others short, and the amazing range of colors from the ever increasing varieties allows just about anyone to use them in gardens and containers – I do both.  Coleus are easy to start from cuttings or seed – I do both.  Plus, they make good houseplants for all the northern gardeners – like me – who crave color during winter months.  Coleus adorn my kitchen windowsill (bright light but no direct sun) most of the year.  In late summer, I load fresh cuttings into vases of water and wait for them to root.  From rooted cuttings they become small potted plants.  Some years they adorn window sills all around the house, other years I manage to save just a few – usually depending on how I’m able to control aphids – but most often you will find my sills holding a coleus collection.

And because I love coleus so much, photos of some I’ve grown in the past are my addition to this month’s Foliage Follow-Up, the blog meme started by Pam at Digging.

coleus and petit licorice      coleus and sweet potato vine      coleus limelight

Above find three varieties: Sunset (I think) from the Wizard series; one of the Rainbow mix; and Limelight getting ready to bloom.  There are many, many more.  The nearly black Palisandra – actually the leaves look like dark, dark maroon velvet; the lemon-lime variegation of Pineapple, another Wizard coleus; the ruffle-edged, dark pink to maroon colored leaves of Black Dragon; there’s even a coleus  with leaf color variegations similar to a Rattlesnake – and so named.

Coleus have become very popular plants of late, so seeds are more available now – I get mine from Pinetree Garden Seeds.   You’ll find many more color and variegation choices sold as plants either via mail order or at just about any garden center.  Either way, they can be stunning additions to dark corners, holes in a planting bed, or as container highlights.  Just keep them out of reach of marauding deer, give them adequate water (the leaves droop dramatically when too dry or too wet), and pinch them back to keep plants bushy.  Oh, and northern gardeners, make sure to keep them protected from any frost.  Coleus do not look forward to visits from Jack.

These beauties never become boring.  The same plant will take on different color and variegations based on the amount of light it receives – check out some other coleus varieties here.  If you haven’t tried coleus yet, then don’t pass up the chance to do so this year.  They make adding color and drama a breeze.

Now that you’ve seen my Foliage Follow-Up, head over to Digging to get other foliage ideas for your garden or window sills.

8 comments for “Foliage fashionistas

  1. February 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    I am so glad I came over here to read your post. I love coleus and will try to root them in water this year. Thankyou so much for sharing this.

  2. February 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm


    Aren’t coleus fanstatic? I try to have several varieties in my garden each year and they typically are not bothered by the deer. I have begun to think of coleus as a ‘deer-resistant hosta’ – lots of colors, sizes and leaf textures available to spice up any plantings.

  3. joenesgarden
    February 16, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Rooting coleus in water is so, so easy, Leavesnbloom. Definitely try it.

  4. joenesgarden
    February 16, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Debbie, you are very lucky to have deer that don’t eat coleus. I’ve had deer nibble container grown coleus sitting on the edge of my front porch and my deck. I cannot expect any planted in open beds to remain unpruned, shall we say, by Bambi and friends.

  5. February 17, 2010 at 1:47 am

    I’m a sucker for chartreuse and red combos, so I love yours. Do you grow pineapple sage too?

    Beautiful images. Thanks for joining in for Foliage Follow-Up!

  6. joenesgarden
    February 17, 2010 at 8:37 am

    I haven’t tried pineapple sage yet, Pam. But I may this growing season. I’m happy to join Foliage Follow-Up … it’s a great idea.

  7. February 17, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Love the coleus. This was my first winter bringing them inside. Now that I know how easy it is to overwinter and propagate them, I’m planning lots more. I started seeds for both the black dragon and palisandra, yesterday. Oddly, coleus is what I’m most looking forward to when spring arrives at the local nursery.

  8. joenesgarden
    February 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I’m with you, Kate. Finding a new coleus variety is a highlight of any nursery search.

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