A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Green Thumb Sunday

Working in the Floriculture greenhouse transplanting coleus yesterday inspired my post for today. I grew coleus for the first time this year. It was by accident. When the seedlings for my Adopt-A-Plot bed failed this year, I brought plants from my own gardens but my plot was still too sparse. The Head Hatter took pity on me and took me "shopping" in the greenhouse. She helped me choose from the extras that were there, among them some coleus. The coleus was quite leggy from being in pots too long so before planting them, she snipped the tops off of them. She gave me some of the cuttings to take home.

I've never been a big fan of coleus. Growing something because it has "pretty leaves" has always seemed silly to me but my motto is that I will try anything once and I did have the perfect spot for it. I even had a little fun "creating" a little garden for it and documenting the process for posterity. Here's a closer look at the cuttings after I planted them in a container on July 4:

The picture at the top of the post was taken on September 8, two months later. Other than watering it, I did absolutely nothing for it and it became a monster!

Since all of the coleus at Rutgers Gardens are named varieties, I consulted with our Plant Pro for the name of this one. He noted that coleus "sports" regularly. He says the one I grew probably started out as Compact Red (the dark red with a lighter border) then morphed into Trailing Rose. Here's his take on coleus:

Welcome to the world of coleus. From the Victorian times there has been an incredible resurgence in gardeners interest in this genera. In fact it is a plant that sports regularly so it is hard to keep them all straight. Many times there are multiple names for the exact same plant. One of my suppliers took cuttings from me and then simply renamed the variety to put their twist on the plant. It is hard enough to keep clear without this action.

Coleus is a fabulous genera which I have been selling and pushing to my customers for years. I'm glad it has finally caught on. Welcome to my world.

He included some helpful links:

Coleus Finder

Glasshouse Works

The Flower Company

I'm sold on coleus! I can't wait to try different varieties next year. Keep an eye on that container. It's going to get a lot more colorful.

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.


At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Mrs Lifecruiser said...

That is just wonderful! I love colorful leaves on plants.

Yes, sometimes we have to be "lead" into a certain path to learn to understand things :-)

I'm glad you were, so I could enjoy this lovely pictures!

Me, I just have to sneak on other peoples garden nowadays when I don't have one of my own any more ;-)

Happy Green Thumb Sunday.

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Tricia said...

I didn't realize that you'd put the code up ... I was just wandering through my list of green thumb requests and saw that your post and the blogroll was up. Welcome! Coleous can be very nice in the right place. I grow it in planters with impatiens along my very shadey driveway. Grows like crazy there and looks lovely.

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous John - Melbourne said...

Colour in foliage can be better than colour in flowers, I particularly like the canna lilies foliage and most yellow/green varigated foliage. This deep purple is wonderful too. Nicely done.

At 1:06 AM, Blogger OldRoses said...

Mrs. Lifecruiser, half the fun of volunteering at Rutgers Gardens is all the new plants I've been learning about and trying.

Tricia, I had been loking for something to brighten up that shady corner. Coleus seems like such an obvious choice now.

John, I'm definitely a convert to colorful foliage now.

At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Colleen said...

This was my first year growing coleus too, and I will definitely grow it again. And it is perfect for those little shady spots that just need a little something.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger OldRoses said...

Colleen, I'm so glad to have something other than impatiens for color in the shade!

At 9:25 PM, Blogger roybe said...

I've never been a great fan of Coleus Caren, but I've learnt in gardening never say never. Two years ago I had no interest in Hoyas, now I've got a separate blog to document them. Also I must say my liking for coloured leaf plants has grown too. My new blog is http://hoyagarden.blogspot.com/

At 11:39 AM, Blogger Karen said...

That coleus finder web site is great. I came across it last year in the midst of my own coleus revelation. I'm totally sold on coleus. I have always loved colourful foliage, sometimes even more than colourful flowers.

At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Judith said...

Yes, the coleus finder web site is great! Coleus had fallen out of favor with me for a very long time--since ages ago when I grew them as houseplants. Now I plant them right in the garden with my perennials each year & in pots as well. The foliage color is outstanding and adds vibrant color to the garden, as we see from your post!

At 10:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Coleus, the only problem with it in Florida they grow by the hour so you must nip all the time to keep them looking good

At 5:22 AM, Anonymous Tim said...

I have grown coleus previously - in pots when I did not have a garden. But have not grown them since I bought the house and garden 4 years ago. You have inspired me to buy some seeds and get sowing!


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