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Planting and Care

Coleus has long been considered a shade plant but the best leaf color is achieved with morning sun and some degree of afternoon shade. Many varieties do well in both shade and part-sun. Some can take quite a bit of sun as long as they are not allowed to dry out. Avoid overly damp soils, which can cause leaf drop and encourage disease. Plant coleus after danger of frost has passed when soil temperatures have warmed sufficiently and evening temperatures are above 60 degrees F. Feed plants regularly with a water-soluble fertilizer, especially if they are growing in containers.

To maintain plant form, pinch back every few weeks to prevent flower formation. Pinch just above a set of leaves or branching junction for the best appearance; don't leave a stub. Some gardeners leave the small flowers, but it's best to pinch them off to direct more energy into stem and foliage growth. Coleus left to flower may lose vigor as the plant puts energy into seed production.

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