Goodbye Faithful Friends


The Coleus cultivars grown in containers in the Fairegarden this year have been positively heroic.


Scorchingly hot and scathingly dry conditions barely annoyed them, perhaps a well mannered wilty leaf or two was the only symptom shown by the stoic lot.


Names unknown, three reds, a yellow, a combination of the two and a free spirited multicolor were planted outside in May in various containers, all glazed pottery and the red/gold in a wire trough with a coir fiber liner.


The trough needed the most watering but those plants also grew to a larger size.


Frost threatens nightly.


Coleus leaves are delicate and sensitive to cold temperatures. They will become unsightly soon. We are on the black leaf watch.


Some replacement troops are at the ready.


More are needed. But none will be as brilliant as the Coleus. They have served us well. We salute you.


But fear not, for cuttings were taken and reside safely in the greenhouse/sunroom.

Frances

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36 Responses to Goodbye Faithful Friends

  1. Carol says:

    Hey, I recognize that plant on the left! You are taking very good care of the night-blooming cereus. And my coleus did quite well this year, too!

    Hi Carol, thanks. I am doing what you told me to, giving it tough love, which means totally ignoring it but for a smidge of water now and then. I thought you also had that red and gold coleus, perhaps in a pot on your front porch?
    Frances

    • marie brown says:

      I noticed the night blooming cereus too, I have one, but it gets very leggy and very seldom blooms. what is the tough love that you recommend?
      Marie

      Hi Marie, thanks for reading. The tough love for the Cereus is no care by the gardener. Scant water, no fertilizer, no repotting. Plenty of bright diffused light, outside in summer, inside in winter. It is treated the same as the paphiopedilum orchids, so that makes it easy for me. I am lazy. πŸ™‚
      Frances

  2. Love your pansies, all marshaled for duty!

    Hi Janet, thanks! I love them too, although I prefer the smaller flowered violas, they do better here, but same difference! Too many is not enough of them. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  3. I like the notion of plants being heroic…

    Hi Susan, thanks, so do I! It has been a tough summer and just keeping the containers hydrated has been a chore. The coleus performed above and beyond anything else. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  4. Valerie says:

    Your coleus have done really well. Mine got hit by frost before I took the cuttings. Bummer.

    Hi Valerie, thanks. I am so sorry your coleus have taken the hit for the team. Having cuttings growing in the greenhouse gives me something to fool with over winter, but does not always translate into new plants for spring planting. They are readily available in many colors at the local nurseries though. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Marvelous coleus. They will certainly tell you when there was a frost. You are so good at bringing in starts. You will be happy next spring when you go to plant them out.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. They are the canary in the coal mine, it is true! I am very good at bringing in starts, getting them to live through the winter indoors is a whole other ball of wax. I think overwatering might be the culprit and will try to hold back. They will give me something to look at over the winter if nothing else. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  6. commonweeder says:

    Coleus are so beautiful and so varied. I wish I had a good shady spot for them. I’ll work on that. On our hill we are having an unusual fall – no frost yet. I’m still picking basil.

    Hi Pat, thanks. Still picking basil, amazing! These are sun coleus that can really take full hot sun, even in containers. Give them a try next year, they brighten any garden. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  7. The coleus here are already singed and it hasn’t even froze yet. I took a few cuttings thinking to have some inside for the winter. We’ll see. There is no room for them. The light is poor and it certainly isn’t about having starts for next summer.

    Hi Christopher, it has been a cold fall so far, all of a sudden it turned to winter! I think cuttings on a windowsill, maybe over the sink are cheerful even if they don’t last to be replanted.
    Frances

  8. Good reminder Frances for me to take cuttings today. Don’t you just love the new sun coleus? They can handle heat and sun. I’m really grateful to them. I think of them as beautiful jewels when the sunlight hits them just so.

    Hi Dee, thanks for visiting. Glad to be a gentle reminder to you and others that still have time to snip a few stems before frost. I do love the sun coleus, they can really take our tough summers with brilliance. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  9. Love the title to the post. How true. They have performed gallantly all season and have been true friends, so sorry it has to come to an end in the changing season. I took photos of all my dying friends. They look so much worse than yours. Still beautiful, your plants are giving all they have for you.

    Hi Donna, thanks. We really still have a lot going on here, the coleus will be the first things affected by cold however. They root so easily in a glass of water, better still in a pot of soilless mix. The best is yet to come with the muhly grass and fall foliage turnings. By the end of December things will be somber though. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  10. eliz says:

    Oh dear I need to stake my cereus, so it looks as good as yours. My coleus are barely hanging on too. I wish i could remember their names so I could buy the ones I like again. (There will be no cuttings–no room and too much trouble.)

    Hi Elizabeth. I don’t know these names either, but will look for them again at the same nurseries. That pale yellow might be my fave. The cuttings are taken to give me something to fiddle with over the winter in addition to the orchids. But snipping a few stems and sticking them in a glass of water is pretty easy gardening. Staking the Cereus made all the difference in its appearance. I just did it before snapping that photo. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  11. Steve says:

    Love those pics of the Coleus, Frances. How gorgeous they are and how incredibly varied.

    Thanks Steve. I hope this post will remind me to get more coleus for the containers next year. They were far and away the best performers in this trying summer. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  12. Nicole says:

    Those coleus are gorgeous-wish I were there I would have taken them all off your hands!

    Hi Nicole, me too! These are nice big specimens, you could surely find a good place for them in your beautiful garden. I hate that they will be turned to mush soon, but they do make for good compost additions. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  13. Remind me next spring to buy more coleus.

    I will try, MMD. I must also remind myself. We will work as a team! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  14. Joey says:

    Lovely, Frances. Coleus are stunning plants, blending well in all seasons.

    Hi Joey, thanks so much. The coleus breeders have really excelled in making some strong growing plants with amazing colorways.
    Frances

  15. This is something I won’t have to experience- having to tuck the whole garden to bed for winter.What will you be doing on your blog in the middle of winter,Frances? Come visit my blog for we have eternal summer here in the tropics, heh heh.
    I’ll be in New Zealand for the next three weeks where I’ll still get to catch spring flowers in bloom. I’m going to have the time of my life.
    Love,
    Rosie

    Hi Rosie, New Zealand sounds marvelous, have a wonderful time! We really do not shut down like the northern gardens do where I live in Tennessee. We have worked for ten years making this a garden with interest in all seasons and months with evergreens, hardscape and interesting grasses. As long as the ground is not frozen solid, which only happens rarely and for a short time, I will be working out in the garden. It is my favorite thing to do in the winter, just have to bundle up. I don’t get overheated and there are no insects. There will be garden stuff on the blog, as there has been for the last three years. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  16. Gail says:

    My dear, The first shot of your garden is lovely~I can see the muhly near the top of the garden! Thank you for the reminder to take coleus cuttings~They sure have worked hard this summer! I’ve one that has drooped and dropped and with a small drink perks right up~A plant like that needs to be a part of the garden every summer! xxxgail

    Hi Gail, thanks for noticing the long view from the lazyboy in the opening shot. I wanted people to see what it really looks like, and this photo is quite close, if not as brilliant in colors. It is amazing how a drink perks them back up. Even without a greenhouse, a glass of water with some sprigs in it will cheer you up. πŸ™‚
    xxxooo
    Frances

  17. Hi, Frances;
    I really love the idea of plants being ‘heroic.’ The coleus is so beautiful.

    Hi Kate, thanks. You are second person to have that thought! Well the third if you count me and the comments! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  18. Beautifull garden, lovely images and I love the header!!
    Ronelle

    Hi Ronelle, thanks and welcome. I hope you clicked on the story about the header at the top of my sidebar. That was a very special, once in a lifetime day. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  19. Melissa says:

    Your garden looks absolutely gorgeous! Healthy and thriving! Love looking at your photos!

    Hi Melissa, thanks so much. It, the garden, is looking pretty good considering the drought we are now suffering through. We have been working on changing it to more xeric plantings and that certainly helps. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  20. So so so so jealous of all those lovely violas ready to go into the ground. My pansies are nice, but… I want VIOLAS!!!

    HA Joseph, I don’t blame you! They are so hard to find. I ask my local nursery to plant some for me every year, that’s where I got those. People snatch them up by the flat, like me. I will look in Knoxville this weekend too. I like to plant them over the new bulbs to help me remember where they are. Hey, I got some Vernonia lettermannii! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  21. I have some coleus that I started from seed (HA! Who does that? Oh, right) in the ground under a shrub that I completely forgot about, but which I should dig up and bring in. At least they haven’t died yet even though it’s been under 50 at night! Must get shelter from said shrub.

    Hi Monica, congrats to you for starting coleus from seed! These are all sun coleus, and much tougher animal, but they too will be damaged by frost. We also have been under 50 at night without them giving up. Good luck with your babies, they are special! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  22. lotusleaf says:

    Hey! I got a shock reading your title of the post!

    Hi Lotusleaf, sorry about that! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  23. nancybond says:

    The third coleus down is ‘Trusty Rusty’ (Solenostemon hybrida) — I grew it this summer too and, like yours, it withstood the wind, scorching heat, and I believe I watered it once. They’re stalwart plants, for sure, and I’ll be sure to plant more another year.

    Hi Nancy, thanks for that! Now I know what to look for next year if the cuttings fail, as they have been known to do. It is my favorite with that lemony color that brightens the whole garden. Oh, it is the fourth photo of which you speak. Looking it up, I believe this might be a different one, but I will certainly take your advice and look for Trusty Rusty next season! It has been a trying year here with lack of rain and excessive heat, these sun coleus laughed in the face of that. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  24. Les says:

    I can’t even think about saying good bye to mine. Coleus are such a key part of my summer garden. I hope to be able to enjoy them at least another month.

    Hi Les, let us hope for another month here as well. Our temps fluctuate so, it is hard to tell. We have had near freezing levels all around us, but so far the Fairegarden still stands tall. The coleus will not be removed until they are goners. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  25. I’m surprised, Frances. I just thought (stereotype?) they’d winter over down there! But you are good to bring in cuttings. I probably won’t this year. I’m having difficulty wanting to work outdoors right now. The summer went to quickly and I didn’t get time for other endeavors. So, I’m hoping to do something Just For Fun tomorrow! πŸ™‚

    Hi Shady, thanks. I certainly hope you can have some fun tomorrow, which is now today. We are zone 7a, with four distinct seasons although our winters are generally short with a minimum low of around 10F for an hour or so on the very coldest night, usually. No Coleus can stand that, or many other annuals for that matter. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  26. TC Conner says:

    Your tribute to coleus is much deserved. We love it here too!

    Hi TC, thanks. I am glad you are fans of these Coleus. We will be using them for containers next year in a big way, they are easy and make a huge impact. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  27. Rose says:

    I love that first photo, Frances–such a beautiful view you have from your Lazyboy! I’ve become a big coleus fan, too, although I discovered this year that the little four-pack seedlings didn’t do nearly as well as the 4-inch pots. Next year I won’t be such a tightwad:) I’ve been checking the coleus each morning; thankfully, they have survived the light frosts so far, but it’s time I get busy and take some cuttings before it’s too late.

    Hi Rose, thanks. I have yet to get a shot that captures how vivid the view actually appears to human eyes. This lower light is magical. Those four packs are the old style shade loving coleus, cheaper but not the same as these larger sun loving ones. Pay the money and try them next year. One plant will fill a pot, so really they are a good investment. If you take cuttings, that is gravy. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  28. Lola says:

    Love those coleus. Sadly I didn’t have any this yr. but plan to have them next yr. That was one plant that my mother always had.

    Hi Lola, thanks. I hope you can find some pretty ones next year. Be sure and get the sun coleus, they are much tougher and larger, not your mother’s coleus to borrow from car advertisements! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  29. andrea says:

    Those are very beautiful photos of very beautiful plants. They are so healthy that it is a pity they will end up dying because of harsh weather. How sad for the hands that gave them tenderness and caring, endless time and pampering. But life is like that, and those are not exempted. At least you enjoyed their beauty before they succumb to autumn.

    Hi Andrea, thanks and welcome. We do not really feel sad as these plants are annuals here, considered to be wonderful for one season only. They are readily available and the cuttings that have been brought inside will continue to give us joy. It is as it was meant to be. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  30. Dave says:

    I brought in several cuttings of each variety as well! Gotta save money for next year’s plantings!

    Hi Dave, so nice to see you here. It is a cost cutting measure, to take those cuttings. Last year I was able to take cuttings from the mother plant brought inside of Inky Fingers and have them live to be planted in the spring, a first! I know you will have much better luck, prince of propagation! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  31. Randy says:

    Coleus will certainly be on our list next year after the horrible conditions we had this year. Whew!

    Hi Randy, you are to right. It has been a difficult garden year, with the heat and no rain. The no rain part continues here, sad to say.
    Frances

  32. Jen says:

    So beautiful! Maybe your frost will hold out a little longer….Very smart to take cuttings of these gorgeous plants. I have tried to overwinter coleus inside without success, but maybe I’ll bring some to the school greenhouse next time and see how they do there!

    Hi Jen, thanks. I had the same problem with cuttings before last year as well. They were being overwatered, is my best guess. Less water last year produced much better results. Good luck with yours! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  33. VW says:

    Those coleus are amazing! Very nice photos. I don’t have any in my yard, but many of the hostas leaves have already died, so the coleus would probably be dying as well.

    Hi VW, thanks. You are much colder than we are, so your coleus would probably have been zapped if you have had frost. We are still hanging in there and the weather actually seems to be warming now. Good deal! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  34. RobinL says:

    I know I should take some cuttings to preserve those favorite annuals, but I just get lazy! This year I vow to try.

    Hi Robin, nice to see you here. Just some snippets in a glass of water on the kitchen windowsill will be cheering in winter. Even if they don’t make it to see another spring, coleus are readily available everywhere. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  35. My Coleus are starting to be affected by the cold here on Long Island. Dropping leaves and looking leggy. But like you, I was lucky enough to have them grow beautifully this season. I hope to do even more next year!

    Hi Kate, thanks for visiting. I have actually pulled nearly all of the coleus here, even though we have not had a killing frost. New plants were purchased for the containers and I wanted to get them planted and settled in before it gets colder. We will certainly get more next year! πŸ™‚
    Frances

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