Given the plethora of coleus options—and the constant lure of new ones—Marek suggests some guidelines for acquiring and collaging them. "Don't just buy one or two plants," he says. "Use them in masses, tucked between perennials to fill space, and choose colors that complement other leaves or blooms you have." Around seating areas, he especially likes solid-hued varieties, which create color blocks that he contrasts dramatically with bright seat cushions or glazed pots. In beds and containers, he mixes big-leafed coleus (such as the so-called Kong hybrids) with finer-textured boxwood, rosemary, or eugenia; and small-leafed coleus, such as 'Garnet Robe,' with bolder Clivia or hosta foliage.
Shown: Spring to fall, 'Kingswood Torch' makes a dramatic counterpart to a long-blooming 'Ruby Glow' pentas.