I will be adding images to this discussion soon but right now, my focus is on talking about the growing love for coleus. I chanced upon this plant last year. At that time, I did not understand the difference between foliage plants and flowering plants. Soon, along with my love for the plant, a bit of knowledge also seeped in. Within a few months, I realized that the coleus family is rather high on color combinations and bright, colored leaves but does not flower. Yes, sometimes you get some seed stalks but these are not really pretty.This is a means to create some seeds which can be preserved for restarting the pot after the winter has ravaged it. Yes, the coleus is vulnerable to extreme winters. Foliage plants like coleus cannot survive the extreme nip in the air and similarly, they cannot tolerate very high temperatures. You have to find the shady spots in your living space. But the coleus is not a window plant. It is not meant to grow in spaces where some rays of the sun visit for a few minutes during the day.
These beautiful plants need an open, airy, and somewhat shady space. In my house, I have some cover in the balconies and the area underneath is largely shielded from the sun. This is almost perfect for any type of coleus. Guard against overprotecting the plant. Though the stalks don't look very robust, they have reasonable strength. They can survive the heavy monsoon shower but heavy winds can do some damage. The Coleus is best grown as a combination. Think of one planter that has the pink stripe, maroon vein, leafy green, and the popular purple variety growing together.
My experiments with the coleus and some well-learn lessons now span almost a year. I have learned that constantly nipping and pruning the plant is critical to ensure it continues to grow. Most coleus plants will grow vertically and then, they start stooping. You have to protect against this inherent nature of the plant. You have to nip and prune as many times you visit the balcony. There is never too much pruning of coleus. This plant needs this manual intervention to prevent the long stalking and branching tendency. This inspires the plant to grow horizontally and bush-out a lot more. That is exactly what you want - bushy coleus plants that are dense and look like a shrub of colored leaves. The foliage does not change its color patterns a lot over the months. The colors can run weak and mild to being very pronounced during the monsoon season.
This is a wonderful plant to own if you like pruning if you have the knack of using the scissors often in a garden. I recommend this plant to all those folks who are discovering gardening and want to learn all the basics in one plant. This includes preparing for the winters, watering, protecting against too much sun, pruning, and feeding the plant. With one planter of coleus, you get to easily propagate the plant across the entire garden.
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