Tag Archives: coleus

This Year’s Garden Planters

Each year I head to the local garden store to pick out flowers for the planters.  The results are rarely the same from year to year since I just pick what I like at that moment.  Sometimes I might like yellows, other times maybe purples, sometimes more upright, others lots of vines.  This year for the front stoop I was in apparently in a pink/purple mood.



In the backyard, I am a creature of habit.  In two shady planters near the grill, I always put in coleus.  My local garden shop carries a great selection of coleus so every year I can mix and match.

The one lesson I learned through the years is check the height of the plants.  They can range from a few inches to a couple of feet, so match accordingly.  Otherwise that favorite may be completely dwarfed by its neighbor.

coleus planter

coleus planter

Then there’s two long planters in the backyard that always have geraniums and something low.  Usually it’s petunias, but this year I switched it up and used an annual lobelia.  I did notice in the first few hot days that they need a lot more water than the petunias.  Need to stay on top of that!  But they do look stunning next to the hot pink geraniums.

geranium and lobelia planter

The last two planters have had a variety of things going on.  I haven’t really decided what I like in them.  As it came time to plant them this year, I realized I was missing marigolds in the garden. They’ve been a mainstay in my garden ever since my first garden in NJ.  I miss how well they grew there, but as one of my favorites, I keep them somewhere in my yard.  It’s definitely one of those love/hate plants for gardeners.  This year they went in the planters with some snapdragons.  The snapdragons aren’t blooming yet, but soon will be attracting the butterflies and hummingbirds.


These are all recently planted, so I’m hoping they’d ill in nicely through the summer.  With enough water and some periodic fertilizer they should look great.

As comparison, here’s some what these planters looked like last year…


Brrr, it’s Cold

As expected, we sunk down below freezing Tuesday night. Glad I got the last of the vegetables harvested. Surprisingly, many of the garden plants actually looked pretty good in the morning, but we’ll see after 2 days of below freezing temperatures overnight.

I ended up leaving the single perfect rosebud on the plant. In the morning it was still tightly closed, just half the size as the day before.

The coleus and petunias showed their unhappiness by curling up their leaves and petals like they were trying to stay warm.


Then later yesterday, I headed up to Michigan for a quick visit to my mom’s. The drive was interesting, both from the quirky weather and the seemingly random changing of the colors. I would have expected a gradual transition as I headed north, but instead, the colors were highly variable, with some places still green, others showing beautiful colors, then still more already bare. This morning, we woke up to this–



Not sure I’m ready!


I’ve been away from blogging for a few days while my husband and I took a wonderful quick trip to Charleston, SC.  As I mentioned in my Kiawah blog (and also the one on Kiawah dining), we’ve flown to the Charleston airport numerous times with the family to go right out to the beach, but never made a side trip to Charleston.  I am currently writing up that trip for a “Travel to Charleston” post, but in the meantime there were some interesting gardening ideas that I thought I’d write about.

The first is about Coleus.  Seems an odd choice, but I have become quite a fan of this fairly simple and common plant.  I remember back in the old days, we used to have them as indoor houseplants.  As long as they got some sunlight, kept them evenly watered  and kept pinching them, they grew great.  Of course, I did none of those, so I got ugly, leggy plants that I think even got mites or something.

Fast forward to today. I have slowly been using them as annuals in pots around the yard. This year I filled 3 pots that are in dappled shady locations with just coleus seedlings that I picked up cheaply at Home Depot.  I didn’t really plan it out very well, other than something needed to go in those pots. But much to my surprise, my husband has remarked on numerous occasions how much he likes those coleus pots that surround his grill area.  They have turned out to be so colorful and interesting, and have been fun to watch as the summer has progressed.  In fact, they still look great as fall colors starts to settle in around them.

coleus 4

coleus 3

coleus 5

They’ve been simple to keep looking good.  Keep them watered, they definitely let you know when they need it, and pinch the flower stalks periodically to keep them bushy. At this point I have let them flower and that’s added to their prettiness.  I didn’t fertilize them much, but I think like any pot plant, it helps.

So how does this relate to Charleston? As we wandered around this very wanderable city, coleus was everywhere. In pots, in window boxes and in gardens. I was so surprised to see it so many places, and I came to realize what a great mixer it was in the garden arrangements, both as a mass of one color, or a colorful mixture of varieties.

coleus 1

coleus 2

Seeing these beautiful garden spaces has definitely encouraged me to to think about how I can use coleus better in my own garden spaces.   They are so easy to grow and versatile in their uses, I’ve already been researching varieties and seed sources for next spring.  I will probably grow my own so that I can really plan out the right varieties for the colors, height and sun conditions better.  Unfortunately in Zone 5 where I live, coleus is definitely an annual so it needs to be grown each year or plant cuttings overwintered indoors.  If I can find a location to overwinter a few, I might do that.  But I better hurry, it’s getting close to that first frost here.

So if you’re looking for ideas as to how to grow and use coleus in your garden, check out these sites that I’ve started collecting for next spring. Does anyone have any more recommendations or ideas? Do you have coleus in your garden?

Southern Living-Colorful Coleus
Fine Gardening-Designing with Coleus
Fine Gardening-Sizing up Coleus
Tribtoday.com-Start Coleus Seeds Now for Spring
 Swallowtail Gardens Seeds
Burpee Seeds

The Garden in Fall: The Good

It’s the beginning of October and the days are getting shorter, the nights growing colder. These are the last gasps for the garden before it settles into the winter hibernation. In some ways, fall gardens can be very pretty. I’m always surprised at the plants that continue to bloom well in to fall, some even looking their best. And of course, there are the things that take all summer to finally show their colors. Here’s some of the plants and areas of my garden that make me smile.


One of my favorite flowers is the marigold. I love the smell (although I might be the only one) and the colors. They always seems to just come alive in the fall and it has always had a place of prominence in my garden. I’m also reminded of a trip to Taos, NM, where I saw the prettiest marigold chains.  One year when an early frost was going to wipe out the flowers prematurely, I made one myself that hung beautifully in the kitchen.



(There were also  lots of bundles of hot peppers that just looked pretty hanging there)


There’s lots of color in the garden...



And interest…



And vegetables are still coming, as long as we don’t have a frost!




July Garden Photos

This gallery contains 14 photos.

These beautiful pictures were taken of my garden by Peggy over the last week.             And one brilliant photo of a peony from her garden in Michigan!