Annual of the Week - Coleus

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Coleus (Solenostemon scutellaroides) is a versatile foliage plant that is prized for it's brightly colored, boldly patterned leaves in shades of red, orange, yellow, green, pink, purple, and white.  Adding coleus to your landscape makes an excellent color accent in garden beds and borders. It can also be planted in containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets. Most coleus grows best in part shade however new cultivars of this annual have been selected for increased sun and heat tolerance. The shape and color of the leaves and the plant size also vary depending on the cultivar. The majority of the varieties grow around 1 - 3' tall and as wide. 

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Coleus has no serious insect or disease problems. Plants grown in too much shade may become leggy and plants grown in too much sun may wilt. Coleus prefers moist and well-drained soil, high in organic material. The flowers are inconspicuous and it is best to pinch them off as soon as they appear to keep the plant compact and bushy.

Expect coleus to be one of the first annuals killed by fall frost so you may want to take cuttings of especially valued cultivars. They root easily from stem cuttings and can overwinter inside. The plants will require a warm, bright location with consistent moisture.