Coleus plants, also known as solenostemon or plectranthus, are grown for their stunning foliage in combinations of bright red, burgundy, yellows, green, pink, brown and bronze.
Coleus look good in summer bedding schemes or as a filler at the front of a summer border, and are ideal for summer pots and containers. They are perfect for an exotic or jungle-style planting scheme. They can also be grown as house plants or in a conservatory.
Coleus is actually an ornamental member of the mint family, native to Indonesia. All species formerly in the Coleus genus have now been split into either Plectranthus or Solenostemon.
How to grow coleus
Grow coleus in a sunny or partially shaded spot to bring out its beautiful leaf colours. It likes moist but well drained soil. It is a tender perennial, but is usually grown as an annual in the UK, planted out in May when there is no threat of frost. Coleus won’t survive in cold weather, so if you’re growing it in a pot, bring it indoors in autumn and grow it as a house or conservatory plant. Alternatively, take cuttings in summer for new plants the following spring.
More on growing coleus:
Coleus: jump links
Where to plant coleus
Plant coleus in a sunny or partly shaded spot, in moist but well-drained soil. Coleus are low growing, so they look best at the front of a border, combined with other bedding plants, or in pot on a patio. If you’re growing coleus as a house plant, grow it in a bright spot that gets a little direct sun.
How to plant coleus
Plant coleus in May, once there are no more frosts forecast. Prepare the soil by forking in some multipurpose compost. Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the original pot, add the plant and fill around it with soil. Water in well. If planting in a pot, dig a hole that is the same size and depth as the original pot, and plant at the same level. Water in well.
Caring for coleus
If growing coleus in pots outdoors, move plants indoors in autumn before the first frosts. If using as bedding plants, you could transfer to pots and move to a sheltered indoor area. Alternatively, grow as a conservatory houseplant.
How to propagate coleus
Coleus plants are easy to propagate. Take cuttings in summer to increase your supply of plants, then grow them on for next season in a greenhouse or conservatory.
Growing coleus: problem solving
Coleus varieties to try
- Solenostemon ‘Chocolate Mint’ – the semi-succulent stems bear velvety, maroon leaves edged with bright green and prominent, rounded teeth. The pale blue flowers are insignificant and can appear at any time of year
- Solenostemon ‘Trusty Rusty’ – the stems are semi-succulent stems and bear velvety, rust-colored leaves with a serrated, golden outer edge
- Solenostemon ‘Olympic Torch’ – the dark burgundy leaves are edged with a thin border of yellow-green
- Solenostemon ‘Saturn’ – the deep burgundy foliage has a central splash of bright lime green