NEW SUMMERTIME SUPERSTARS IN LANDSCAPE COLOR
Texas Agricultural Extension Service
The Texas A&M University System
Dr. Steven George
For the first time, traditionally shade-loving coleus plants venture
out of the shadows this spring with introduction of the new SuperSun cultivars
which truly tolerate our hot Texas sun.
Texas A&M Extension specialists conducted field trials for three years
and evaluated over 70 cultivars to identify two that are fully sun-tolerant.
The winning cultivars are called SuperSun 'Plum Parfait' (pronounced par-fay')
and SuperSun 'Burgundy Sun.'
SuperSun 'Plum Parfait' has a beautifully ruffled, lance-shaped leaf which is a purplish-plum
color early in the growing season. As summer's heat begins to build, 'Plum
Parfait' becomes even more attractive as its leaves develop bold pink margins.
This cultivar is best used where the viewer can get rather close to the
plant so as to fully appreciate the gorgeous pink highlights.
'Burgundy Sun' is characterized by large, oval to heart-shaped leaves which
are deep, rich burgundy in color. This cultivar takes center stage when
you want a strong visual impact, especially at a distance (e.g. completely
across your backyard).
Their Attributes Abound
The A&M trials proved that these SuperSun coleus possess many outstanding
attributes. For example, they:
- Are very low maintenance for an annual bedding plant
- Are extremely easy to grow (almost foolproof when planted in a well-drained
soil and not over watered)
- Are well adapted to all areas of Texas
- Give Excellent performance form dappled shade to full, hot sun
- Naturally assume a pleasing, compact growth habit
- Are not plagued by early or excessive flowering (coleus is grown for
its foliage and flowering is considered a detriment)
- Grow in almost any soil, acid or alkaline, if it is well-drained
- Provide landscape color from mid spring well into the fall
- Have no serious insect or disease problems when grown outdoors in properly
prepared beds or containers
- Are the first coleus to be designated as "Earth-Kind" by the
Texas Extension Service due to their ability to deliver superior landscape
performance with an absolute minimum, or even total elimination, of harsh
Coleus Culture At A Glance
SuperSun coleus are very easy to grow if you employ the following "Earth-Kind"
- Above all else, coleus must have good soil drainage. To ensure this,
plant on raised beds amended with 4-6 inches of organic material (e.g. compost,
tree leaves). Remember, poorly drained soils and watring too often spell
disaster for any coleus. Plants suffering from "wet feet" will
be stunted, leaves will turn a muddy brown, and leaf margins will be scorched.
- Fertilizer requirements: Base on results of a soil test. If test results
not available, apply 2 pounds of a high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer (without
any herbicide!) per 100 square feet of bed area. Select a product in which
at least half of the nitrogen is in the slow release form. For a mid-summer
boost, sidedress with bloodmeal in July according to label directions.
- Space transplants of 'Plum Prfait' and 'Burgundy Sun' 26 inches apart
in the sun. For shady locations, space 'Plum Parfait' at 18 inches, 'Burgundy
Sun' at 26 inches.
- After planting, mulch entire bed with tree leaves, straw, etc.
- Water in thoroughly at planting. During the first 7-10 days, keep root
balls moist but not overly wet. Thereafter, water only when top inch of
soil is dry (check with your finger every 3-5 days). Use of soaker hoses
is highly recommended.
- When flower buds appear, remove the buds plus the outer 1-2 inches of
the stems to keep plants neat.
- Keep in mind that these are annuals and, as such, will be killed by
the first hard freeze in the fall.
Uses In The landscape
Here are just a few of the many ways in which SuperSun coleus can be used
to enrich and enhance your home landscape:
From Beaumont to Amarillo to El Paso, in sun or shade, these coleus are
among our most versatile and adaptable color plants. So for easy care,
near perfect annuals which will add excitement and beauty to your landscape
from mid spring well into fall, try the new SuperSun coleus. They are truly
- With their 3 foot height in full sun, they work well as a massed planting
at the back of a bed, or down the middle of a peninsular bed which extends
into the yard. In front, plant low-growing annuals with white or pink blossoms
for dramatic contrast
- They also provide superior performance in containers. Ensure an adequate
number of drain holes, fill container with loose, open potting mix, then
add a quality slow-release fertilizer
Aggie Horticulture | Texas Superstar TM