• November 27, 2014

Wasabi coleus unbeatable in the garden

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Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2013 4:30 am

Lime green continues to be one of the hottest colors in the garden, and a coleus, Wasabi, provides it like few others. Electric Lime has always been my favorite but I find myself daily pinching out flowers. But Wasabi, with its showy serrated leaves, has not had its first bloom.

While lime green or chartreuse is a color that shouts “look at me,” it also somehow makes all other colors look stunning. Foliage plants like Wasabi can also serve as a transition color, tying the garden together when you might otherwise have a clashing of colors. It is like a mediator between rivals, bring tranquility to the garden.

I am not the only one raving about Wasabi. In trial grounds, it has garnered a perfect score since the last week in May. As it was getting established in early May, it was scoring better than 3 out of 5. Since then: perfect 5 out of 5.

Grows quickly

Wasabi is suggested to reach 30 inches in height and 28 inches wide. That may be achievable in the North, but it grows like it’s on steroids in the South, where it can be allowed to grow larger. It offers you the possibility of growing an incredible lime green hedge.

Wasabi is easy-to-grow, low-maintenance and almost foolproof when grown in well-drained soil and watered through droughty periods. In Columbus, Ga., we have already surpassed our yearly total rainfall including some torrential downpours of 5.7 inches in less than two hours. The Wasabi was just extraordinary through the deluge.

Since we grow coleus for its boldly colored foliage, the fact that Wasabi has had no blooms will make every gardener and landscape professional ecstatic. This trait makes it a perfect partner for another coleus from the same company, Redhead. A combination of Redhead, with its large dark red leaves, and the lime green Wasabi might just be all you need to win Yard of the Month in your neighborhood.

Our careful bed preparation, with loose well-draining organic matter, allowed us to come through such record precipitation. If you have tight, heavy clay, then work on improving your soil condition too. Ideally, at least one-third of the final soil mix should be some type of organic material.

To accomplish this, spread 2 to 4 inches of organic matter and about 2 pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet. My favorite fertilizer for coleus is a 12-6-6. Till this in and you’ll be ready to plant. This pre-plant fertilizer followed by light monthly applications will keep the plants growing well until frost.

Wasabi coleus is perfect for planting in the tropical-style garden. We have ours winding like a thread of gold or chartreuse among plantings of SunPatiens, bananas, small palms, King Tut papyrus and night blooming jasmine. I’ve seen terrific combinations with scaevola and pentas as well. You will easily come up with partnerships to fit your style.

There are still a lot of warm weeks left over much of the country. A planting of Wasabi coleus would look right at home until frost. If cool temps are already at your door then wait until spring. Just know Wasabi is the finest lime green coleus in the market.

Norman Winter is executive director of the Columbus Botanical Garden, Columbus, Ga., and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations Color and Style in the Garden.”

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