Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 012216 Contents THE RIVER - JANUARY 22, 2016
by Gerri Reaves
Coleus’s (Coleus x hybridus)
is a non-native groundcover
valued for its colorful
There are more than 200
varieties of coleus, with leaves in
a full array of colors and patterns,
mostly in vibrant combinations of
pink, green, bronze, yellow and
The most familiar coleus,
perhaps, is one with maroon leaf
centers and golden green edges.
The leaves are lance-like to
rounded and velvety in texture,
with soft-toothed edges that are
sometime ruffled. Their thinness is
one of the reasons the plant needs
plenty of moisture.
The stalks usually grow one to
two feet tall and are easily broken
Coleus is not an unequivocally
low-maintenance plant, although
newer varieties have been bred that
endure South Florida’s heat and are
pest- and disease-resistant.
Some gardeners view coleus as
a disposable plant and replace it
Give coleus well-drained soil that
contains some organic material and
make sure that it doesn’t dry out.
Some landscapers make the
mistake of planting it in the hottest
months. While it might do well in
summer in more northern regions,
many varieties of coleus soon wilt
in the full sun of a subtropical
Unless you’re planting a heat-
tolerant variety, put coleus in partial
shade, especially in the summer.
Coleus is also cold sensitive, so
protect it from cold snaps.
The plant can become leggy and
require cutting back all too often.
It’s advisable to pinch off the
spikes of bluish flowers, since
the plants tend to decline after
The watering, pinching, cutting
back and replacement, along with
its tendency to pest problems,
explain why low-maintenance isn’t
the best description of the plant.
One nice thing about coleus,
though, is how easily the cuttings
root to make replacement plants,
thus saving money.
Use coleus to create splashes
of vivid color, as a border, or as
contrasting background plant. It
also makes a nice container plant
or hanging basket.
Sources: Florida Gardener’s
Guide by Tom MacCubbin and
Georgia B. Tasker, floridata.com,
Plant Smart explores the
diverse flora of South Florida.
One of the many varieties of coleus
photo by Gerri Reaves
Set At Pine
ALee County volunteer naturalist
will lead a free mile-long nature
walk at Pine Island Flatwoods
Preserve at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan.
23. The Preserve is located at 6351
Stringfellow Rd., St. James City, FL
The 90-minute walk traverses a
longleaf pine flatwoods that is home to
gopher tortoises and bright orange pine
lilies. This is one of the few locations
in Lee County with naturalized longleaf
No reservations are required and
participants should dress for the weather
and wear sturdy walking shoes. Call 707-
8251 for more information.
Pine Island Flatwoods Preserve is host to
Go Birding at
Experience the beautiful birds of
Bunche Beach with a bird patrol
guide on Saturday, January 30
at 8 a.m. Participants are asked to
meet on the beachfront. Bunche Beach
is located in South Fort Myers off of
Summerlin Road at the end of John
Bunche Beach is excellent for both
migrant and resident waders and shore-
birds working the mudflats at low tide due
to the diversity of micro-invertebrates.
You can view waterfowl, raptors and
This event is free with parking fee of
$2 per hour (tour is approx. 2 hrs). It is
provided in cooperation with Lee County
Parks and Recreation. No registration is
Bring binoculars, sun protection, shoes
that can get wet, a bottle of drinking
water, your curiosity and love of nature.
For more information, go to www.
birdpatrol.org or call 707-3015.
Adding Worms To Your Garden
The Edible Gardening Exchange’s January meeting guest speaker will be Brad
Ward, tropical agriculture specialist with ECHO, who will provide details on
how to build and install a simple “worm tower” in our gardens.
ECHO has been experimenting with a method of using composting worms directly
in the garden bed to both reduce labor and drastically increase soil health. Ward will
share how it has impacted ECHO garden beds and discuss what it takes to maintain
good garden soil health here in Southwest Florida.
Join other edible gardeners on Thursday, January 21 at 6:30 p.m . at the North
Fort Myers Rec Center, located at 2000 N. Recreation Park Way in North Fort
Myers. Arrive at 5:30 p.m . for an open and informal chat on edible topics. Consider
bringing something to share with other gardeners (seeds, plants or a snack). Bring
your own cup for free coffee and tea.
All fees are paid at the front desk. The membership fee for monthly meetings
through March is $10. A Lee Parks and Rec lifetime membership card is required,
which costs $10 per person.
For more information, contact Karen Harty at 610-530-8883.
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