Garden Photo of the Day

Get Season-Long Color From Coleus

A gardener collects the best of this colorful group of plants

Back in the spring, Joe Koller sent in some photos of Alan Summer’s Maryland garden and his over-the-top display of peonies and other early blooms (read it here), and now he’s back with some shots of the summer look of the garden—with a focus on coleus! Joe says that Alan has been collecting and trailing different coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides, Zone 11) for years, keeping the ones that he likes and that perform the best.

For plants like coleus that have literally thousands of different varieties on the market, taking the time to try different ones each year is really worth it, because you can find the particular varieties that perform the best in your climate and have the particular colors that appeal most to you. Though coleus have to be grown as annuals anywhere with freezing temperatures in the winter, it is very easy to take cuttings in the fall and overwinter your favorites in a sunny windowsill so you can plant them out again in the summer. For information on taking cuttings of coleus (or other annuals), check out this article.  To learn how to pinch back coleus to get a denser, bushier growth habit, watch this video. We’ve also got a rundown of some of Fine Gardening’s very favorite coleus varieties here.

What are your favorites?

The whole collection! What a display, and with color that lasts all summer with no fuss.


I love this pairing of container and plant, with the intricately textured leaves echoing the design of the container.


A really massive coleus. Displaying each variety individually in pots like this really allows each one to show off.


Another view of the massive pots of coleus scattered all over this patio. It’s incredible that so much diversity of color can come from just different varieties of one foliage plant.

This one looks to me like it might be the variety ‘Henna’. I love the jagged leaf margins and the bright color.


Have a garden you’d like to share?


Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/11/2018

    Wow, looking from amazing plant to another is like turning the wheel of a kaleidoscope...such a mind tingling variety of colors and patterns. I have never seen a display of mature coleus like this's quite impressive. Thank you, Joe, for taking the pictures and sharing them with us in GPOD-land.

  2. user-7017435 09/11/2018

    Good morning Michaele, Alan is an amazing gardener for sure. I'd like to share with you his criteria for selecting & culling his collection. : He looks for plants with tightly bunched petals & late flowering tendencies to minimize deadhead heading. He mixes organic fertilizer with the planting medium & adds a liquid sea product when watering. Also I did not take the photos a mutual friend did. Good luck Joe

  3. wittyone 09/11/2018

    These are beautiful. With so many new varieties for both shade and sun coming up with gorgeous combinations is not difficult at all. Just yesterday I was at a friend's house and she says that she often makes bouquets for the dinner table using just coleus foliage. The colors are so varied and vibrant that no flowers are really necessary.

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/11/2018

    Oh, my. Love all these coleus.

  5. perenniallycrazy 09/12/2018

    Gorgeous collection. Love coleus and wish it is hardy where I live.

  6. JoannaAtGinghamGardens 09/13/2018

    Joe - Alan's coleus are gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing !

  7. Gennyh1 11/16/2018

    WOW! Love all your coleus and the different shades! You certainly have a green thumb!

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