Coleus "Under the Sea" Hort Couture Collection

I’m a big, big fan of coleus. As far as I’m concerned there is no wrong coleus to grow in the garden. Granted, there are some coleus color combinations I’m not too fond of, but to each their own. I always thought the only way coleus plants could be improved is if they were bread to produce large flowers. Then I was introduced to the “Under the Sea” collection of coleus plants at a garden show a couple of years ago and fell in love with them. This year Hort Couture sent me a box of sample plants to trial in my garden. Below are pictures of the plants from the “Under the Sea” collection that performed well in my garden, and that I’m comfortable recommending to gardeners looking for unusual garden plants.

‘Bone Fish’

Coleus Under the Sea 'Bone Fish'

While not my favorite in the batch of plants, coleus ‘Bone Fish’ was a superb plant. The yellow and red color combination was pretty striking in person and it, of all the plants I trialed, reacted the best to pinching to create a fuller plant.

If you haven’t noticed yet, the leaves of the “Under the Sea” series is different than just about any coleus you may have seen before. They’re evocative of exotic salt water fish and coral–hence their names.

‘Red Coral’

Coleus Under the Sea 'Red Coral'

‘Red Coral’ was one of my favorites. Like ‘Bone Fish’ above, it reacted well to pruning by pinching the tips of the plant to create a fuller plant. And just look at those leaves! Have you ever seen anything so weird? It’s a smaller plant and if you grow it I recommend growing it in a single pot to really accentuate the unusual leaf structure. I’d also plant them one or two per pot at the most because I think the dramatic effect is lessened when they’re in mass. I planted all of mine in a single pot and from a distance they didn’t seem to interesting until you got up close and personal.

‘Red Anemone’

Coleus Under the Sea 'Gold Anemone'

Of all of the “Under the Sea” coleus plants ‘Red Anemone’ was by far my favorite. The leaves on this plant were rather large and dramatic. There was no ignoring this plant from a distance. Each individual leaf was about the size of my hand, and edged in a deep red color of carried through the stems. This was a usual and handsome plant that I wish I had tried to overwinter indoors.

‘Lime Shrimp’

Coleus Under the Sea 'Lime Shrimp'

If you’ve read enough posts at this garden blog you know I love black plants. Or at least what passes for black plants in horticulture. When I was told Hort Couture was giving me plants to trial I was most excited about ‘Lime Shrimp’ because of it’s dark coloring. Let me preface the following by saying; my picture doesn’t really do it justice. I probably have a better picture of it somewhere on my computer, but I can’t find it at the moment. The chartreuse and burgundy–a deep purple in some spots–color combination of the stems and leaves is superb. I paired these plants petunia ‘Black Cherry’ and loved the look. I would often go out to the container garden just to look at them together. These two plants together just made a miserable gardening year worth it.

What I didn’t like about ‘Lime Shrimp’ was its growth habit. Perhaps this was as a result of me not pinching the plants as they grew, or of cultivation, but I found them to be too tall and sparse. The space between each cluster of leaves on the stem was too long. You can sort of see it in this picture, but it was more pronounced in person. Maybe in a container or garden bed planted among similarly tall plants this wouldn’t have been noticeable, but as the tallest plants in a pot it was.

There were a couple more “Under the Sea” coleus in my sample box from Hort Couture, but they weren’t included in this plant review because they didn’t perform as well as these. You can visit the Hort Couture website to see all of the coleus plants in this collection for yourself, but I can only recommend these four as they performed exceptionally in my urban garden in a tough year, and didn’t even blink at my benign neglect.

Have you grown any of the “Under the Sea” coleus collection from Hort Couture? What did you think of them?

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