Coleus, is a perennial, native to tropics and is usually grown in greenhouses. It has beautiful and colorful leaves. The blue violet flowers are in spikes but usually it is grown for its leaves and most people usually snip the flower spikes. It comes in variety of leaf colors from green purple, brown, orange, burgundy, magenta, red and yellow. Some have small specks of colors other larger shapes no to leaves are really alike.
Coleus is used sometimes in the garden borders in the summer. Coleus likes light but not sunlight. Coleus is a perennial but usually treated as annual. It can be grown from seed as well as cuttings. Thrives in rich loose and well drained soil with good watering. It is truly amazing how many color combination and varieties of this plant exists everytime I think I have seen them all I see a different variety with absolutely beautiful colors and leaf shapes. Some have flat leaves other have curly edges, kind of ruffled. And the colors are amazing it is almost like someone has painted each one. And even more amazing is when you see them planted next to each other they create such a combination of colors and shapes. Interestingly they all compliment each other so though they have different shapes and colors somehow the fact they belong to the same genus helps them work well together for display. The leaves look almost like they have been painted in water color with different blotches of colors running into each other with overlaps and abstract shapes. Some have bigger shapes others smaller and sometimes they are more solid. All this makes for wonderful mixing and matching so no Coleus display is really the same or repeated, the combinations are limitless.
I remember as a child I liked propogating them by doing cuttings. You can put the cuttings in soil or sometimes if you put in a glass of water after a while they start growing roots and after they have rather established set of roots you can plant them in pots. Plant them in moist soil and keep them roots moist. They do grow in partial shade or total shade. Interestingly the leaves are just part of the beauty, they also have little pinkish flowers that bloom. Though to keep the plants fresh and growing you can cut the tips and let the plant grow even more beautiful leaves. You can also grow Coleus from seeds. They are easy to plant as seed keep the soil moist and soon the seeds will germinate and soon enough you can transplant them to pots or borders where you are looking for the beautiful colors of Coleus. Because they are easy to propogate from cuttings actually they make a good plant to get children interested in nature, biology and gardening. They can see in a short time how roots grow and absorb water and nutrient from the stems to the leaves.
The variety pictured here is probably the most popular and most variety, but you should check your local nurseries or try online catalogues for many different colors and varieties.