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January - March 2012     VOLUME 16 ISSUE 1
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Monica Moran Brandeis

Festival Gardens

Coleus hybrids are actually tropical perennials often grown all over the country as annuals, mostly for their brilliantly colored foliage. I can’t imagine a garden without them. Plants come in many sizes from 6 to 36 inches in height and leaves also vary in size and form. Color combinations include green, chartreuse, yellow, salmon, orange, red, purple, and brown. Cuttings from the same plants can vary in color depending on the amount of sun they get. The more red in the foliage, the more sun tolerant the plants tend to be. Most do best in shade and those in the sun need much more water.

Sometimes the blue flower spires can be very decorative, but often they are removed to lengthen the life of the plant. Coleus can be nipped by cold weather in the winter, so take cuttings of your favorites just to be sure. Most of mine have lasted for years. Even in Iowa I kept them over the long winters, sometimes just in water indoors. They root very easily in water or in medium. They also grow easily from seed, but that takes much longer.
The mass in the photo came from a single, 25 cent, 4-inch pot planted in the spring–at church, of course. Even the other ones at church didn’t spread as much. Low varieties seldom need trimming. Taller ones can be trimmed as needed to keep them compact. Coleus have few pest problems, medium salt tolerance and low wind tolerance.

Excerpt from Gardens Florida by Ms. Brandeis

Ms. Brandeis will be appearing at the 2012 Festival of Reading.  The complete schedule can be found at