Coleus adds colorful foliage to your landscape

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Not many plants thrive during a Louisiana summer like coleus. The stunning foliage provides color to your landscape from mid-spring up until the first frost. Traditionally thought of as a shade-loving annual, new varieties of coleus have been developed to perform well in full sun. These new varieties are labeled “sun” coleus and can be found at most garden centers.
Coleus plants are available in a range of colors, shapes and sizes. Color combinations include shades of green, yellow, pink, red and purple. Select bushy, upright types to create a colorful border or trailing types for hanging baskets and containers. Dwarf varieties are also available. Not sure which coleus to choose? Try Mardi Gras, a coleus cultivar having leaves that deliver pops of deep red, green and yellow.
Keep coleus plants well watered. You may have to change your watering schedule as plants grow and as temperatures increase. Keep in mind that flower beds and containers should be moist but not overly wet. Too much water will reduce plant vigor and make plants more susceptible to diseases and root rot. Mulching can help to conserve soil moisture and decrease pressure from weeds.
In late summer as buds and flower spikes begin to appear simply pinch them back. This will encourage the continued production of new foliage. Plants grown in heavy shade may become straggly and require some additional pruning to maintain a desired low, dense form throughout the growing season.
For more information contact the St. John Parish LSU AgCenter Extension Office at 985-497-3261 or visit
Mariah Bock is the LSU AgCenter County Agent for St. John Parish. She can be reached by email at