A Close View of Coleus Plants
If you are looking for a fun and easy shade plant to grow from seed, you'll want to check out the coleus. I plant my coleus seeds in a pot with sterile soil on a window sill that receives partial sun in February or March so they are ready to go out in my gardens after temperatures do not drop below 60 degrees Farenheit.
Of course, you can also buy coleus very cheaply as small bedding plants in late spring, but I rarely can find the more interesting varieties in my local nurseries. And that's a shame because there are a ton of fantastic cultivars out there!
The trick to having nice looking coleus is to keep them from growing straight up and then blooming and setting seed. The flowers on these plants are small and not very attractive, so it really is no loss. Simply pinch off the top set of leaves every few weeks to keep the plant bushy and compact. If you can keep your coleus from getting tall and gangly, bring them in before your first fall frost. They make attractive indoor plants during the winter months and can be set out again each spring.
If you do have a coleus with a leaf pattern and color that you really like, but it has grown to be an unattractive plant, don't just toss it out. Before you discard the plant, pinch off three to five inch from each stem's tip, just as you would if you were pinching the plant back to help it bush out and stay short and compact. However, don't throw these plant tips away. Instead, place them in a bottle or vase of water for a few weeks. Most of the tips should develop roots. Pot your rooted cuttings in sterile potting soil and place the pots on a windowsill with partial sun. Keep them watered and they will be ready to go out in the spring, along with any coleus you grew from seed.
Additional Coleus Resources:
Coleus Rainbow Blend Seeds
Coleus Black Dragon Seeds - Annual Plant