Problem growing coleus

lisa2004(NY Z5/6)January 24, 2008

I have lots of shady garden space and I'd love to fill some of it with different types of coleus. For some reason I've had no luck with it for the past two years.

I have varying amounts of shade (from light to deep). The area is quite dry most years and the soil is nearly 100% compost. I do water with a hose, but it's such a large area that maybe I'm not giving it enough.

The coleus doesn't die on me, it just stays very stunted and withered looking.

So, before I mess up a few more flats of coleus this spring can anyone tell me what the proper water and sun requirements are? Also, should I do something about the soil to make it retain more water?

Thanks in advance. Lisa

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tjsangel(z5 OH)

Hi Lisa,

I've had lots of luck growing Coleus each year. I have fairly dry shade soil, so I grow most of them in containers. The ones in the ground need lots of water every day and most like lots of shade. There are a few varieties that tolerate sun, but not full sun. I would just keep adding lots of compost and manure to your soil to help retain moisture. You an also use chopped oak leaves. Water deeply, maybe consider a soaker hose. You can also take cuttings and keep inside during winter, in lots of light indoors they are easy to keep going til next spring. Just pinch them back occasionally. Good luck!


    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 7:52AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Coleus also like warmth and a loose friable soil. Compost is not the same as soil. You need to mix the compost in with the soil. They also like plenty of water as mentioned above. I usually grow most of my coleus in pots. Those that I plant in the ground are in areas with well amended soil that are easy to water. I have some that get several hours of morning sun and do very well, others that are in areas of bright light without direct sun and some in more shade. All do well, but those in more light have more intense colors. Also, some varieties simply don't get very large, so the growth you see may be due to the variety. Kong coleus don't like any direct sun though, their thin leaves will scorch easily.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2008 at 11:30AM
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I've found that the variety of coleus makes a big difference. Some are better than others. I've grown sun coleus in full sun with success, but I've also had cases where growth was slow and the plants looked weak in both sun coleus and shade coleus.
I've found that the worst enemy is too much water- they are very susceptible to rot.
If you've got yours growing in compost I'd say it probably retains water well, so be careful not to overwater.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 12:09PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

They like it hot.

My coleus are somewhat smaller this year, than years past, and I think its because overall, we've had a cooler than normal summer. We haven't had as many of those stifling hot humid days and nights that we usually have...

My Coleus still look good and healthy, they just haven't grown as large of leaves as they have in the past. I keep mine in a container and water them deeply about twice a week. They like lots of moisture, but its good to let the soil dry out just a bit between waterings.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 10:46AM
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