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Growing coleus


September 14, 2023


The Searles Gardening Team

The humble Coleus is making a revival in the gardens of Australia. Once seen as a dull plant from yesteryear, gardeners have rediscovered colourful, easy-to-grow plants with various colours to suit most shady positions.

To make an eye-catching feature of a shaded area, plant a patch of lime/yellow Coleus surrounded by a purple coleus. Colours from the opposite side of the colour wheel instantly scream, "Look at me".

Coleus can have a vast range of leaf colours and shapes. They can displayed as a feature or a space filler in pots or gardens. You can let them grow tall or keep them as a neat, tidy formal plant, and it is one of the most versatile plants in the garden. Some newer varieties are sun tolerant, but this can depend on your region.

There are only a few rules for Coleus to flourish: keep them out of the scorching sun by planting them in the shade or just giving them morning sun. Plant them in free draining soil for best results, and water and deadhead regularly. The plant will put its energy into the flowers and not the new foliage, and so by removing the flower heads, you will notice far more new growth. Tip pruning coleus foliage also encourages new growth and promotes a bushier habit.

Pruning offcuts can be used as cuttings if the flower spike is removed. Plant cuttings in Searles Propagating Mix and keep moist until new growth appears. Coleus can also be moved indoors in cold areas to protect them from frosts.

If planted into the ground, use Searles Premium Compost blended into the soil to provide rich nutrients before planting, or if growing in a pot, use Searles Platinum Potting Mix for the best results. They flourish in well-draining soil; they are prone to rot in boggy areas. You will notice the plant wilts and the stems can blacken from rot, so do not automatically suspect underwatering if the plant is wilting.

The better you care for the plant, the better it looks. Water regularly, and if in a pot, don't leave water in the saucer, as this can lead to root rot. A controlled release fertiliser such as Searles Recharge Pots and Gardens is perfect for Coleus in the garden or pots. Apply as directed every six months to increase the plant's vigour, and a dose fortnightly with Searles Seamax builds the plant's resistance to climate stress. The usual suspects, including caterpillars, mealybugs, scale, and aphids, can infest these lovelies, and are always looking for a victim. Treat them promptly with Searles Trifend and spray under the leaves and on the stems where they hide. The caterpillar droppings often alert you to their presence before you notice the leaf disappearing. Having ruffles or curvy edges can hide their munching.

Check out the new range of Coleus in your local gardening outlet that becomes available regularly and give them a try. Propagate yours and share with friends to increase your colours and leaf shapes range. It's the perfect filler, if not a thriller.