The Three C's of Summer Gardening: Coleus, Caladiums and Copper Leaf Plants
(Plus, Thoughts on Fertilizers)
You've certainly heard of the ABC's, but do you know about the CCC's of summer gardening?
No, this has nothing to do with Clear Channel Communications, the company that owns NewsRadio 740 KTRH. But, hey ... I wonder if the corporate suits can find a way to distribute this tip sheet through all of our 850+ radio stations? Hmmm?!?!?
Anyway, the CCC's I'm talking about are Coleus, Caladiums and Copper leaf plants.
When I talk to listeners in person, I often get to recommend lots of colors as alternatives to the standard vincas and zinnias, and I always suggest they check out coleus, caladiums and copper plants. They may not be loaded with flowers, but they are packed with color for landscaping.
I've written about my love for coleus in many past e-mail tips. So, if you're new to these newsletters, check out these samples from the past.
Don’t Let Coleus Go To Seed
Kong Coleus, King Of My Garden
Coleus — The All-Purpose Annual For Summer
Caladiums, like coleus, were once only intended for the shade, but several varieties have now been developed that can endure full sun. Copper leaf plants, however, like full sun as much as possible, and I have yet to find one that works in the shade. But, hey ... it's summer. We should be looking for he best sun-loving plants anyway.
Meanwhile, I'm including overview of how I feed my summer annuals in this week's tip sheet. And all the foods I'm about to discuss work just fine on coleus, caladiums and copper leaf plants.
First, I've had some interesting phone calls and e-mails asking why I don't recommend Miracle-Gro. Some are convinced I own stock in Nelson Color Star because I recommend it all the time. I do not own stock in Nelson Plant Food. It's privately owned by Dean Nelson and his family in Bellville. I like Color Star because it is a slow-release blooming plant food, and it was the first of its kind. Others have been imitating Color Star since its debut over 20 years ago.
A slow-release blooming plant food is perfect for the lazy gardener in all of us, because you don't have to feed every couple of weeks. Instead, you feed annuals and/or perennials once every 3-4 months.
Someone introduced a once-a-year fertilizer over a year ago, but I think the economy bit them on the backside. I haven't seen hide nor hair of them since. And there was a fertilizer called Watch Us Grow that I really liked for years, but it has completely disappeared because of corporate in-fighting. The fact that Color Star has been around for over two decades and is the leading slow-release blooming plant food speaks volumes to me.
As for Miracle-Gro, I have recommended it for specific uses, and I actually think it is a good product. I just don't want to apply it every two weeks as the instructions suggest – that's too much work.
If you want to stay more organic, I recommend Medina Hasta Gro Liquid Plant Food. It is a 1-2-1 ratio like Miracle-Gro's 15-30-15, but it's more earth-friendly. Its ratio is 6-12-6, and it can be dropped into a hose-end sprayer and applied just like Miracle-Gro. (By the way, I also like Miracle-Gro and Medina Hasta Gro for Vegetable Gardens, because that IS where you should apply a light application of liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks.)
Miracle-Gro also has their slow-release blooming plant food in a shaker canister. This is good stuff, and I recommend it if it's all you can find. But, I try to support local businesses first, and Nelson's is local.
Some other slow-release blooming plant foods include Fertilome Start-N-Grow, Nitro-Phos Pansy Food, Osmocote and Carl Pool's Colorscapes. Carl Pool's is a Dallas company, but has really lost presence in the Houston area over the past 10 years. It is just as good as Color Star, and actually less expensive, but it's gotten ridiculously hard to find. Nationally marketed Osmocote has a great reputation but, again, I try to support the local businesses.
And speaking of local, many independent nurseries and garden centers have their own private-label slow-release blooming plant food. Wanna take a guess what company makes that food and puts the nurseries' labels on it? If you guessed Nelson's, you would be right. So, for me, it all comes back to "dance with the one, what brung ya!" I use Color Star because it works, because it was the first, and because it's local!!
and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, exclusively on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
Visit the GardenLine Home Page!
Randy's Tips Archive • Previous Newsletters
Podcasts • Appearances
Become a fan at the GardenLine Facebook Page!
E-mail The Editor. Please feel free to forward this issue to friends and associates. Anyone can subscribe for free.