Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

Plant Care for Kong Coleus

Kongs (solenostemon scutellariodes) are a group of coleus introduced in 2004, according to information published by Louisiana State University's agriculture center. This group is unique to other coleus in that it looks like a sun-loving coleus, but it actually prefers shade. These plants are grown for their colorful, variegated foliage, which ranges in patterns and shades from greens to yellows and pinks. Although Kong coleus is an annual in many climates (frost kills the plant), it is easily grown and well worth the effort to replant every spring.

Choose a planting location that receives some morning sun, but is shaded in mid and late afternoon. Unlike many sun-loving coleus, the Kong coleus thrives in shade. In fact, the direct rays of the sun can scorch the plant's large but delicate leaves, according to information published by Louisiana State University.

Plant your Kong coleus any time after the danger of frost is past. The best month for planting is May, but coleus plants can be planted any time throughout the summer and even into early fall.

Plant individual Kong coleus plants about a foot and a half apart. Dig a hole as large and wide as the roots of the young plant, and backfill the hole. Water thoroughly.

Fertilize your Kong coleus immediately after planting with a slow-release, balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the label for the size of your planting area.

Pinch off the vertical growing tips of the new shoots every month to encourage horizontal, bushier growth. When the plant flowers, you may also want to cut off the spikes, as some gardeners find they distract from the colorful foliage.

Remove the plant in the fall after the first frost has killed it. If you live in an area that does not freeze, you can grow this plant year-round, but be sure to keep the soil cool and consistently moist.

Garden Guides