Newspaper Columns

Keith Hansen, Smith County Extension Agent, writes a column each week which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

Keith HansenKeith Hansen’s blog

 The link above is to Keith’s blog which includes his column and other gardening news and tips.

Dee Bishop, Smith County Master Gardener, writes a weekly column which is published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph each week.

July 16th column

   Summer brings heat; so plants that love heat are what we love in summer.DSCN5748 copy  Plants that grow big taking up lots of space and provide drop-dead gorgeous color all summer are our very favorites.  Coleus are the show-offs in our garden now.  A late spring with all the rain and cool temperatures kept us from planting coleus as early as we usually do, but we got them in at last, and take a look at one of the prettiest in the garden.  We have many coleus every year with some years providing just the right amounts of sun and heat to make them explode into giant splotches of color.

I am not sure of the name of this coleus in the picture and you will find the names change so often with different growers changing the names as they see fit.  Coleuses are in the mint family along with basil and quite a few other plants that have square stems .  My mom had them in our yard as far back as I can remember and they were among the first plants I learned to grow from cuttings.

There are coleuses that love shade and these can easily be grown from seed.  The sun coleus, which are what we have in the garden will grow in full sun to a half day of afternoon shade; however sun is what brings out the brilliant colors.  Any coleus will grow in part shade, but the colors are much paler.  You will find also that some of the sun coleuses fade in all day sun whereas others do not.  Coleus plants change with the shorter days and cooler temperatures also.  Leaves of coleus plants change with the season, from deep colors of spring, to faded summer colors (on some), to deeper shades in autumn plus they grow from a four inch plant to three feet or more high and wide.  The way to keep coleus looking good is to pinch all the branches back every few weeks all season.  They will bush out more, grow stronger and bigger stems that will not break during winds.

Coleus need well-drained rich soil; so prepare their bed well adding plenty of compost.  They need lots of water; so watch for slightly wilted leaves and water accordingly.  Give them a light fertilizing every three or four weeks, or do like we do in the garden , use timed released fertilizer at planting time.

Coleus are easy to grow and what more could give so much color for so long in your landscape?


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