On Gardening: ‘Wonderfully wicked’ year for coleus


Goodness, it is proving to be a “wonderfully wicked” year for coleus. In this case wicked is great and promises to add incredible color and texture to your garden. Wicked actually refers to two new colors or varieties in the ColorBlaze series of coleus. If you are like me you probably thought we had all of the coleus we could ever want 10 years ago. This is simply not the case.

An example is the Mississippi Medallion Award program, celebrating its 25th year. In this anniversary year of one of the best plant promotion programs in the country, the experts selected ColorBlaze coleus as award winners. Then this year Proven Winners debuted ColorBlaze Wicked Hot and ColorBlaze Wicked Witch. Both of these new varieties already have dozens of awards based on 2019 University Trials.

I am talking awards like Best of the Best, Perfect Score All Summer and Top Performer. ColorBlaze Wicked Hot is simply amazing with an array of orange and rust intensities. It does remind you of glowing embers in a campfire. This color reaches out and grabs you, causing you to really take notice.

ColorBlaze Wicked Hot has serrated margins and excels in sun or shade. It can reach 40 inches in height with a spread to about 36 inches. In other words, it is vigorous. But don’t let that scare you – it is easily pinched to maintain your desired shape. It was made to partner with shades of blue for an amazing complementary color scheme.

At The Garden Guy’s house it seemed to offer a magical opportunity to combine with Double Play Candy Corn spiraea that I recently wrote about. To refresh, this spiraea features chartreuse and gold foliage topped with rusty orange new growth – a marriage made in gardening heaven.

ColorBlaze Wicked Witch is also the same height and width, for sun or shade. It too is serrated but with deep burgundy to chocolate foliage and lime green or chartreuse margins. To me this one screams to be partnered with lime green where the margins serve to echo the color of the companion plant. In playing around with partners at the home of my son, James, ColorBlaze Wicked Witch and Everillo carex created the partnership of dreams.

Also at The Gardens Guy’s house, ColorBlaze Lime Time stole my heart. It could have been named Wicked Wonderful as it is identical in shape, size and serration, but has stop-you-in-your-tracks lime green. I am one who believes everything looks better with lime green. Such is the case when I put ColorBlaze Lime Time in between blue flowered catmint and the riveting tangerine colored Orange You Awesome echinacea.

There are 14 selections to choose from in the ColorBlaze series. I promise there will be at least one to fit your needs. In fertile organic rich soil these are persevering, foolproof plants that will perform until frost or whenever you are ready to pull for planting pansies. You will find out why ColorBlaze Wicked Hot and ColorBlaze Wicked Witch, two of this year’s introductions, have won awards from north to south and east to west.

(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

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