Coleus can grow as an evergreen perennial shrub, herbaceous flowering plant, or houseplant. The leaves are brightly colored with shades of green, purple, bronze, pink, red and cream that are divided into rounded lobes not unlike those seen on maple trees. They may be variegated or solid hues of color.
There are about 150 species of this bushy evergreen shrub found in tropical regions around the world including Africa, Asia and America which are grown for their colorful foliage rather than flowers. Only mild temperatures during winter months should cause temporary leaf drop but they will soon recover after coming out of dormancy showing new leaves in spring.
Coleus are often grown as companion plants because of their lovely foliage that can be used to add visual interest when they are not in flower. They will grow well in containers where they can be moved indoors during cold months or outside during warm, dry periods.
If potted they should be kept in a large pot with porous soil and provided with good drainage. When growing coleus outdoors make sure you place them in an area that gets plenty of sun for most part of the day to encourage lush growth which will produce more intense coloration on the leaves.
Coleus have high moisture requirements so keep them moist but take care not to overwater especially when growing them indoors. Specialized commercial products are available that contain slow-release fertilizers and promote blooming if you wish to grow them for their attractive flower bracts.
Coleus can be propagated from stem or leaf cuttings in well-drained potting mix that is kept moist at all times, the plantlets should root within two weeks. Pinch back growing tips regularly to encourage bushiness and prevent lush foliage from overshadowing the emerging growths.