Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Coleus Revisited -- Should I Plant Coleus Instead of Impatiens?

Impatiens blight 2013, impatiens disease, a/k/a impatiens fungus has tipped up gardeners in spadesful. There've been several alternative annuals proposed, but coleus, in particular, deserves a second look. 

My husband is drawn to the rustic shades of coleus.  A single flat would typically end up framing the barbeque, far away from the perennial border beds.  He'd plant the whole garden in bronzy coleus if he could--and he may get his wish.

In early Spring 2013, coleus seemed a less viable option to replace impatiens.  When first established, the sprigs appeared gawky and awkward. 

Yet, the gangly adolescent
phase didn't last long.

Passing the same bed, a fortnight later, it was shocking how well the skinny transplants had performed. Granted these blooming beauties are not fully in shade and benefit from commercial irrigation, but they're full, colorful and mounding, like -- uh, impatiens!

Ornamental Coleus is faster growing than most annuals. 

Coleus' jewel tones emanate from a different part of the color spectrum, but the effect is equally powerful.  The flowers are not ornamental and best clipped back.  It's all about the leaves, which come in all shapes and sizes, from delicate lacy to hefty and scalloped

#Coleus King Kong is a fast growing large leafed variety with stunning leaves of deep burgundy, heavily ringed with chartreuse.  For standout color and impact, it's an easy and sure bet. Still, it's best
when bordering a more monotone backdrop. 

#Rustic Orange Coleus is softer, and the marmalade color, and medium sized leaves gently frames a busier backdrop.

#Wizard Sunset Coleus offers a more rustic tone of golden bronze. 

#Wizard Jade Coleus has the dual impact of white outlined by chartreus green notched leaves.

Regular clipping and shaping is needed or these prolific beauties will get somewhat unruly.  The de-flowered stems will sprout roots and can be planted in a few weeks particularly in containers. They're quite tender and will disappear once the temperature nears forty-five degrees
Fahrenheit.  Carried indoors, the plants will prosper in a sunny locale.

Lots of show for very little dough. 

Coleus is king!

Related articles:

What to Plant Instead of Imapatiens?

Impatiens Blight Disease -- Trouble in the Landscape

When to Plant Annuals in Michigan -- Go Blue