Caring for Your Coleus

Caring for Your Coleus

The Coleus plant is one of the most popular and sought-after
annuals. It provides amazing color and contrast for those partially shaded
areas for which color is hard to come by. However, Coleus is a somewhat fragile
annual; one that requires a bit of TLC in order to reap its colorfully
impressive rewards.

Potted Coleus Plants-

If transplanting your newly acquired Coleus to a permanent pot or
container, the process is quite simple. Choose a pot with a drainage hole in
the bottom and fill with good quality planting soil.

Transplanting Your Coleus-

We have carefully nurtured your coleus plant in our greenhouse,
providing it with the proper amount of sunlight and nutrients in order to
ensure it grows the best root system possible. Your coleus plant, however, has
not been subjected to wind and full sun. Therefore we recommend that you
"harden off" the plant before actually planting in the ground or in a fully
exposed area in a pot.

Hardening off is the process of acclimating a plant to its new
habitat. You do the same thing for vegetable seedlings you've started at home.
Moving them outside for longer and longer periods of time where they are
exposed to the elements and can therefore survive more easily when first
transplanted into the garden. It is wise to use the same method for any new
transplant. Start by moving them into a partially shaded area that is protected
from the wind. Continue the process gradually until you get them to an area
with the same conditions as the one in which they will be planted. Be
weather-aware and be sure to provide shelter or bring them inside if the nighttime
temps are expected to drop below 40°F and if high winds, driving rain or hail
are expected. This whole process should take no longer than a week to a week
and a half, but will virtually guarantee the most beautiful and healthy Coleus
plants possible.

Lighting Conditions-

Most importantly, never place your Coleus plant where it will have
all day direct sunlight! The newer cultivars are much more sun-resistant, but
Coleus will not thrive well in all day sun throughout the summer. The best
combination is full morning sun (as sun seems to produce more colorful plants),
and then afternoon partial shade (especially in the heat of summer). If you
have your plants in pots, you can even move them in and out of the sun as
necessary. If this is your plan you may want to think about placing them on a
rolling cart or trolley. You will know that your coleus plant is getting too
hot when its colors seem to fade and it wilts, even when well hydrated.


Garden Bed Coleus Plants-

For your Coleus plants that will be going directly into the
ground, we strongly recommend you harden them off and then ultimately put them
directly into your flower beds. Again, location is important. If you are not
quite sure that an area is suitable (morning sun and afternoon partial shade),
you can monitor your planned area for a couple of days.

Additional Care for Your Coleus

Amazingly, Coleus plants don't respond well to over feeding.
Besides adequate moisture, you will find that your Coleus' colors are much more
vivid when the plants are just a little neglected. When you fertilize, use a
slow release (such as Osmacote) or feed at half the recommended strength of a
liquid feed (such as Miracle-gro). We also highly recommend mulching your Coleus
plants if planting in the ground. This not only retains life-giving moisture,
but will inhibit the growth of weeds and grasses. If you water with a sprinkler
or hand-held nozzle, make sure to water after the full sun has left your
plants, but with enough time for the leaves to dry before it turns dark. Wet
nighttime foliage on any plants can lead to fungal diseases; mold or mildew
occurring and wet leaves in full sun can burn the plant. Keep in mind that
Coleus recovers quickly from wilting once watered, but too much repeated water
deprivation will result in a faded, unhealthy plant over time.

Finally, pinching the growing tips of your Coleus plants will
encourage fuller and bushier growth. Coleus blossoms are mostly insignificant
and do not noticeably add to the beauty of the plant. You may find that in
mid-summer pinching will help the plant to maintain its bushy appearance and
keep its shape.

These annual plants are available in just about every color of the rainbow! Though it
may be tempting to buy some of every color; pre-planning for the mixture of
textures and colors will result in the most beautiful indoor and outdoor
decorating and the personal satisfaction that comes from a job well done!