Coleus are beautiful annuals that come in an array of colors and leaf forms. Planted as single specimens, accents in containers, or massed in a garden, they will provide color throughout spring, summer and fall until frost. Taking cuttings before the first frost is a good way to save a favorite variety over winter.
Plant coleus in well-drained soil and keep them moist, but not soggy. Cool damp soil will lead to root rot, so watch spring time temperatures carefully.
Pruning is an important task to insure a well-branched, bushy plant. Pinch the growing tips when they are young. You can choose whether to pinch off the blooms or to keep them, but leaving them on does cause the stems to elongate. In mid-summer, it is often necessary to prune the plant to keep its shape. They will become leggy if they are not pruned.
Coleus is one of the easiest plants to start from cuttings so you can use some of your prunings to get more plants. It is best to pot up the rooted cuttings in 4-inch pots to develop a good root system before planting them out. By using willow water you will get roots to form much sooner than if you do not. It is okay to root new plants for your personal use, but it is illegal to sell named varieties at a plant sale.
Be careful, however. Collecting coleus varieties can soon become an addiction to a gardener.