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Northwest Gardening: Coleus Growing and Design Tips

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Lowe’s Northwest gardening contributor shares tips for designing with colorful coleus plants.

closeup of coleus foliage
Surround coleus with a variety of colors, textures and leaf shapes.

By Marianne Binetti

I splurge on beautiful coleus plants every summer—even though these heat-loving annuals can be divalike in their demands. Here are some tips on keeping coleus happy, and choosing companion plants that won’t steal the spotlight.

1. Don’t set your coleus plants outdoors too early. Even if we don’t have a frost, cool nights in the 40s cause coleus to pout and drop their lower leaves. I grow mine close to the house.

2. Grow coleus in a shaded location or where they get morning sun. Those gorgeous leaves will burn in a hot spot.

3. Don’t get the leaves wet when you water. I grow my coleus under a covered patio to protect them from the rain, and use a long-spouted watering can to add liquid refreshment under the leaves. Keeping the soil constantly moist ensures the best color.

Use solid colors with variegated plants such as coleus; here, orange coleus complements orange impatiens and wax begonias.

Designing with Diva Plants

I showcase coleus’ colorful leaves by picking up on a dominant color in the foliage. Then I choose a companion plant that echoes that shade, and surround coleus with a variety of textures or leaf shapes.

green coleus in window box with purple lobelia

I prefer using solid colors with variegated or multicolored plants, such as coleus, so the mosaic of leaf colors isn’t lost in a mishmash of patterns. In my window box, solid-green coleus serves as a backdrop for more colorful lobelia and begonias.

There’s no need to follow any rules when combining plants with coleus. Why not write and share your own successful planting combinations?

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