Once upon a time their botanical name was Coleus. It was a small mounding shade plant with multi-colored foliage and available in a couple of colors. It bloomed early and if you didn’t pinch the blooms out, it’s growth slowed down as it set seed. 

Now, after years of hybridizing, crossing, back-crossing, trial and error and a good bit of luck, we have varieties that are short to tall, for shade to sun and in a wide range of colors. Plant them when you plant Caladiums. Soil temperature needs to be 60° and rising.

Coleus prefer a well-drained but moist soil. Most sun Coleus will survive in the shade, but shade Coleus wilt and cook quickly in our sun. Many new varieties are very late to bloom (if at all), but still pinch out the bloom so it continues to produce foliage.

For Shade:

The Wizard Series – These are some of the best for shady areas. They are dwarf, about 10” tall and wide with heart shaped leaves. There are a number of individual colors (Jade, Rose, Velvet Red, Golden, Coral Sunrise, Scarlet, Sunset and more) but most often you see a mix, both in seed and plants. Most of them have a slightly lobed margin, a picotee edge and a contrasting leaf color. They seldom flower and need little to no pinching. Super plant for containers.

The Superfine Rainbow Series – There are six different colors in this series. They grow to about 15” tall, require little pinching and bloom very late in the season. Two outstanding cultivars are “Volcano” which is a deep orange red with just a hint of gold on the edge and “Multicolor” which has irregular splashes of red, yellow, pink and burgundy on a green background. 

The Giant Exhibition Series – This is available in a mix or as one of five different cultivars. These are dwarf plants, about 15” tall, but have very large leaves. Most of the leaves are 6” or more long and 4” wide. “Magma” looks like a larger version of “Volcano” above, “Palisandra” is a deep purple, “Limelight, Marble and Rustic Red” complete the series.

The Kong Series – This series is known for it’s extremely large foliage, often 12” long and nearly as wide. There are five colors sold as well as a mix of all know as “Empire Mix”. These grow to around 20” tall, branch well and form a nice, well rounded overall shape.  There is also a “Kong Jr.” series. A little shorter and with foliage about 30% smaller.

The Fairway Series – This is a very dwarf series that only grows to about 8” tall. It branches well and flowers late. It’s available as “Fairway Mix or Fairway Mosiac, Orange, Red Velvet, Rose, Ruby or Yellow”. It’s a great addition to a mixed container.