Coleus Splendiferous

Potted coleus

Potted coleus

Our splashy coleus greets our guests as they cross the deck to our front door. Aren’t the colors amazing? This fast-growing plant seems to double in size, minutes after the summer heat descends.  Small purple flowers appeared last week, but they almost seem beside the point.  The true beauty of this plant is the leaves.  I have three varieties growing on the deck, but this is my favorite.

coleus flowers

Spikes of purple flowers

I grew two coleus last year, then tried, unsuccessfully, to keep them alive through the winter. I wrapped then in frost cloth, kept the watering going, but alas one hard frost and that’s all she wrote.

coleus leaves

Apparently it’s tasty too.

This year I’m ready.  I’ll take cuttings instead.  I have rooting compound for the occasion, along with a lightweight planting medium.  I even have my eye on a small, portable green house, so that I don’t have to use the always-busy kitchen for my growing pursuits.  I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying my colorful deck.

Do you have a summer favorite?

coleus closeup

Stunning colors


Winterizing the Double Wide Coleus

Inky Finger Coleus

Inky Finger Coleus
aka Double-Wide

My beautiful ‘Inky Fingers’ Coleus has been busy.  Unlike its tall neighbor, this Coleus is growing out instead of up. I’ve nicknamed it Double-Wide.

Double-Wide makes me smile when I walk up the patio steps. The colors are spectacular. I’ve grown fond of this plant and hope to winterize it if possible. I grew a spectacular Coleus in the same area last year.  It even garnered compliments from our landscape designer.  Sadly, as soon as the temperatures dropped, the leaves dropped too.  I thought it might come back the following year, but apparently when it’s done, it’s done.

Some brave souls bring their plants indoors for the winter, but I’m leery of what might move in with them.  After a summer dealing with aphids, scale, wasps and thrips, I’m reluctant to go that route.

This year I want to create a localized greenhouse for the two plants to see if they’ll make it through the winter.  I’ve done a bit of reading today, and learned that Coleuses grow as a perennial in Zone 10, an area quite a bit inland from our Zone 15.  I also learned that you can take multiple cuttings from the plant in late summer, and start next season’s plants indoors.  The challenge is lack of humidity in a dry, winter house.

Fall is still a few weeks away, so I will enjoy the plant outdoors for as long as I can.  I don’t have a green house so I would have to improvise with PVC pipe and heavy-gauge plastic.  Gardener’s Supply Company catalog sells garden quilt fabric and plant protection tents good to 24°F,  also possible options.

Do you plan to winter over some of your garden plants?  Have you had success in the past?  Tips welcome!  Please reply in the comments section below.