In The Garden Now….. Favorite Summer Foliage Annuals

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

‘Saturn’ Coleus
Text and photo 
by Victoria Gilleland 

It’s not just about the flowers. In fact two of my favorite annuals this year have been stellar performers in the garden because of their outstanding foliage and are not typically grown for their blossoms which are quite nondescript.

Coleus has been a favorite annual of mine since my second grade teacher, Mrs. Clark, grew them in pots placed on the window ledge of our classroom. 

The plants were colorful and bright throughout the school year and were generously shared with the children as rooted cuttings to grow on as our own plants at the end of the school year. That experience was a terrific introduction to plants and gardening.

However my experience growing coleus in the garden has not always been so positive. They’ve been eaten by slugs and snails, ruined by heavy rains, cold temperatures, mold and mildew. This year I planted after damp cool spring weather had passed, we had a hot dry summer and I just happened to choose what turned out to be a real winner….. ‘Saturn’ Coleus.

The fact that it was grown in a pot located in a courtyard setting helped keep it warm and protected from the elements. However, there was a second coleus in the same pot that did not fare well and seems to have been devoured by those pesky slugs. Maybe #2 was the proverbial “sacrificial lamb.” 

‘Lemon Twist’ Swedish Ivy
‘Lemon Twist’ Swedish Ivy has heart shaped, variegated, green and yellow, fuzzy leaves that start out a bright chartreuse in spring and become yellow edged with time. 

Pests have not bothered it in my garden. ‘Lemon Twist’ was supposed to grow to 10 inches, but mine reached 18-24 inches. It has height in the center yet gracefully drapes to the ground around the perimeter. 

I particularly enjoy walking past this plant so that I can ‘pet it.’ It has a soft velvety texture and a lemon scent. It’s beautiful to look at and adds texture, color and scent to the garden. What’s not to like?

Swedish Ivy comes in a number of other foliage color combos and has always been an outstanding performer in my garden. In fact some varieties make it through winter to provide garden color the next year.

Both of these annuals will continue in their colorful glory until the first freeze. A bonus with these two is that they can be taken into the house and successfully grown as house plants. An alternative is to take cuttings which are easily rooted to produce additional indoor plants for next year’s outdoor garden.

Enjoy color whenever and wherever Mother Nature offers it!

Botanical Name:
  • Coleus hybridus ‘Saturn’ ‘Saturn’ Coleus 
  • Plectranthus ‘Lemon Twist’ ‘Lemon Twist’ Swedish Ivy 

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 25 years.


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