KTRH GardenLine Newsletter
August. 7, 2008 - Issue #78
Here's Randy's Weekly KTRH GardenLine Tip:
I love Coleus in my garden. I love all kinds of coleus. In fact, there are just as many now for the sun as well as for the shade. There are so many different types of coleus on the market now, thereís got to be one for everyoneís taste. How much do I love coleus? Not only is it prominently displayed on the front cover of my book (Which as many of you know is my front yard in Cypress) ask anyone who lives near me, and theyíll confirm that coleus is pretty much all I have for "color" in my front beds this summer.
Coleus is actually one of the easiest annuals that we can grow in our gardens along the Gulf Coast. Oddly enough it is actually a tender perennial by definition. But, unless you go to the trouble of propagating cuttings in November (before the first actual frost); we normally treat them as annuals. Because it is such a fast grower, you can actually take Coleus cuttings all summer long. If you want to learn more about propagation made easy, Click Here.
Nearly 15 years ago, coleus was almost always a "shade- loving" annual, but thanks to advancements in hybrids, there are many varieties of "sun-loving" coleus on the market. And for the ones that thrive in sun, they should say Sun Coleus somewhere on the label.
The main tip I hope you go away with today is that Coleus (sun or shade loving) need to be pinched back continuously to enhance their growth. Letting the plant go to seed, or form those tiny little lavender flowers, will shorten the life of the plant. Pinching back these seed heads is exactly what the phrase says: Pinching with the fingers to remove the tip of a growing shoot to encourage lateral growth. Itís also okay to take it a step further and prune back ľ to 1/3 of the upper growth. Plus, even if you think you over-prune by accident, donít freak out, because they will come back with new growth.
Besides caladiums (which also has specific varieties for the sun and shade), I canít think of any easier plant to grow this summer that will give you a unique splash of color that doesnít entail the use of typical flats of flowers. In almost all cases, remember that coleus needs to be planted in a bed with very good drainage. This may be why you see them excel in large containers consistently. Coleus also tends to feed on just about everything. I have used Nelsonís Color Star as a food for coleus for years with great success. But Iíve heard success stories with Medina Hasta Gro, Miracle Gro and sprinklings of left over lawn food. (3-1-2/4-1-2 formulations) But for ultimate growth, just remember any time you see a coleus go to flower/seed, pinch it back so that you get bigger and better lateral growth.
From the "By-The-Way" department: The pinching back of seed heads/flower heads also applies to CopperLeaf Plants as well.