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Plants go in and out of fashion, and Coleus seems to be making a fashion comeback.

Plants go in and out of fashion, and Coleus seems to be making a fashion comeback. Its flowers are fairly nondescript, but the foliage in a mixed planting sets off the flowers of other plants very nicely. The name “coleus” is from the Greek word “Koless,” which means sheath as the stamens are tightly held together.

Growing Coleus

These plants like a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, well-drained soil and partial shade if they are grown outdoors. They need to be well pinched to produce a bushy shape.

Now is a good time to take cuttings to root so that you will have plants to keep indoors this winter. This is the time also to check your containers outdoors and to cut back any leggy petunias or other annuals. With a dose of fertilizer they will quickly reward you with new bushy growth.

Think about buying some new coleus plants to tuck into pots where other plants have given up the ghost. Leaves with chartreuse and burgundy markings can add new contrasts to your container plantings as we move through fall. Coleus plants pay their way both indoors and out.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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