Tags: autumn day, autumn in the Victory Garden, Beauty, coleus, coleus cultivars, Coleus Odalisque, container gardening, gardening through the seasons, individual responses of plants to cold, Ipomoea batatas, Ipomoea batatas 'Black Heart', not quite first frost, seasonal changes, sweet potato vine
Some plants like to chill; some don’t.
In two pots between the porch and my little 4′ x 4′ raised bed, I planted an unlabeled coleus from the hardware store and the dark-leaved sweet potato vine pictured previously in this space. After a blast of cool air on two nights this week, the sweet potato vine was looking near death. We didn’t have a frost, and I’m not sure we actually got below 40 degrees Fahrenheit yet. But this is a tropical vine, and it shows.
The coleus, on the other hand, just seemed to thrive after a chance to chill. Its colors were, if anything, more intense. After taking its picture early Wednesday morning, I knew I wanted to write about it, and so I started the hunt for its name.
Now, I knew there are now hundreds of coleus cultivars out there. When I was first succumbing to the gardening bug, coleus was an iron-tough plant that was “old-fashioned” and had a really unfortunate and narrow range of colors and forms. Modern plant breeding has done away with all that, though.
I knew this. But even so, I was stunned at what I found once I began searching. There are so many out there, it’s mind-blowing.
First of all, it turns out the lovely coleus I planted in its tiny pot, from which it spread four feet and even rooted itself in the raised bed, is called ‘Odalisque’, which has a rather personal meaning for me. It’s a gorgeous plant and really makes the colors of the two sweet potato vines pop.
But you don’t have to choose ‘Odalisque’. You can take your pick among such evocatively named Coleus cultivars as ‘Cranberry Salad’, ‘Careless Love‘, ‘Defiance’, ‘Dead Drunk’, ‘Dark Secret‘, ‘FlimFlam’, ‘Flapdoodle’, ‘Parrot Jargon‘, ‘Peachy Keen’, ‘Pistachio Nightmare’, ‘Religious Radish’, ‘Rorshach‘, ‘Schizophrenia’, ‘September Divorce‘, ‘Smartypants’, ‘Tantric CanCan’, ‘Swiss Sunshine‘, or ‘Yin & Yang’.
Obviously, with a small space, a limited budget, and only regular human energy reserves, that list will have to be shrunk somewhat. I suppose that’s what a winter is for: planning next year’s garden.