Coleuses are generating a lot of interest these days. The National Gardening Bureau has declared 2015 as the Year of the Coleus, and the LSU AgCenter has named the Henna coleus a Louisiana Super Plant for this spring.

Henna has been a proven performer in trials at the Hammond Research Station and at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden in Baton Rouge. Plants are very heat tolerant, and insect problems don’t appear in the outdoor landscape, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.

Although you can find an amazing variety of coleuses available at area nurseries, the Henna variety offers a particular advantage.

One factor with most coleus varieties is finding those that are less inclined to bloom. Because coleus is grown for its colorful foliage, flower spikes are not generally desirable. Henna does not produce flowers under Louisiana growing conditions until mid-to-late fall, Owings says. And in many years, Henna has not flowered by first frost in AgCenter trials.

Henna foliage is highly fringed and sports shades of gold, chartreuse and reddish-purple on top and reddish-purple underneath. Plants grow 24-30 inches tall and do best planted in a full-sun to partial-sun landscape.

“Pinch plants once or twice a month after planting in spring to encourage branching and a tighter growth habit,” Owings says. Plant them anytime this spring, and plants will last until the first killing frost.

Henna coleus is the 29th Louisiana Super Plant.

The AgCenter and Louisiana’s nursery and landscape industry, through the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association, identify and promote Louisiana Super Plants — exceptional plants that perform well in Louisiana. Some are new varieties, and some are older varieties with a proven track record.

Each Super Plant must have at least two years of rigorous evaluations and have a proven track record under north and south Louisiana growing conditions. The plants must prove hardy across the state and be easily produced and available for all nursery and landscape industry wholesalers and retailers to market and sell.

The program results in home gardeners having an increased awareness of better-performing landscape plants, Owings says.

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