The Stunning Ruby Slippers Coleus: A Guide to Growing this Vibrant Red-Leafed Plant

The Stunning Ruby Slippers Coleus: A Guide to Growing this Vibrant Red-Leafed Plant
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The Stunning Ruby Slippers Coleus

With its brilliant red foliage, Oakleaf Ruby Slippers coleus provides outstanding color in the garden from spring through fall. This versatile plant thrives in containers or planted in garden beds, adding a pop of vibrant color wherever it grows. Like other coleus varieties, Ruby Slippers is prized by gardeners for its low maintenance and drought tolerance once established.

Ruby Red Foliage

The deeply lobed leaves of Ruby Slippers coleus emerge chartreuse in spring, quickly transforming to a rich, ruby red color. The foliage retains this stunning hue throughout the growing season. In shady locations, the leaves take on a darker burgundy-red tone. The color is most vibrant in full sun. This makes Ruby Slippers a great choice for both sunny and partially shaded garden beds and mixed containers.

Growing Ruby Slippers Coleus

Coleus prefer evenly moist, well-draining soil and do best with some afternoon shade, especially in hot southern climates. Ruby Slippers thrives in zones 10-11, where it can be grown as a perennial. In colder zones, it is grown as an annual. This fast-growing coleus reaches 12-18 inches tall and 24 inches wide at maturity. Give it at least 12-18 inches of space between plants.

Start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost date. Transplant seedlings or purchased starts after danger of frost has passed. Pinch back growing tips to encourage bushier, fuller growth. These plants have relatively few pests, but watch for mealybugs and aphids. Overwatering can lead to fungal issues like root rot.

Growing Ruby Slippers in Containers

With its compact size and brilliant color, Ruby Slippers coleus is ideal for containers. Pair it with cool-toned companions like dusty miller, blue or purple flowers, and chartreuse sweet potato vine for striking color contrast. Be sure containers have drainage holes and use a quality potting mix. Coleus prefer consistent moisture, so check soil regularly and water whenever the top inch becomes dry.

Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during the active growing season. Prune leggy growth to keep the plant full and uniform. Move containers to a sheltered location if frost is expected. Overwinter coleus indoors in a sunny window or under grow lights. Take cuttings in late summer to carry plants over winter.

Combining with Other Plants

Ruby Slippers coleus pairs beautifully with many other sun-loving plants. Try combining its vibrant red foliage with bright yellow flowers like coreopsis, rudbeckia, marigolds, or lantana. Purple-leaved plants like purple heart setmandra and dark-leafed heuchera create an elegant contrast. For foliage interest, plant with golden Japanese forest grass, chartreuse sweet potato vine, or silver dusty miller.

Ruby Slippers Care

Ruby Slippers coleus thrives with minimal care. It tolerates heat and humidity well, as long as soil remains moist. Drought can cause leaf scorching and loss of color. Apply a layer of mulch around plants to help retain soil moisture. Water whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry. Take care not to overwater, as coleus are prone to root rot in heavy, waterlogged soil.

Pinch back leggy stems to encourage more compact growth. This is especially important for container-grown plants. Fertilize every 2-4 weeks with a water-soluble, balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 or fish emulsion. Watch for common pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs and treat promptly to avoid major infestations.

Overwintering Ruby Slippers

In zones 10 and 11, Ruby Slippers can remain in the garden year-round. In colder climates, this coleus is grown as an annual and overwintered indoors. Before frost, take tip cuttings several inches long. Remove lower leaves and place cuttings in water or moist potting mix. Keep in a bright, warm area until roots form. Transplant into pots and grow on in a sunny window through winter.

Container-grown coleus can be overwintered intact. Move pots to a protected area before temperatures drop below 45°F. Water sparingly throughout winter. In early spring, prune plants back by half and resume regular watering as growth resumes. Transplant into garden beds or new containers after the last spring frost.

Landscape Uses

Thanks to its versatility, Ruby Slippers coleus can be used in many different garden applications. Its relatively small size makes it ideal for planting along walkways, near entries, and in rock gardens. Add it to mixed borders or use as a colorful ground cover beneath taller plants. Containers flanking doorways or on patios pop when planted with this eye-catching variety.

For a low-maintenance, high-impact display, use Ruby Slippers as edging or in mass plantings. Underplant small trees or combine with annuals and perennials in beds and borders. Its bushy habit also works well in dish gardens combined with succulents and ornamental grasses. No matter where it's planted, Ruby Slippers coleus brings stunning color and visual interest.

The Dazzling Ruby Slippers Coleus

Ruby Slippers coleus lives up to its name, displaying foliage of glistening ruby red. This beautiful oakleaf variety provides vivid color from spring through fall frost. Its versatility, low maintenance, and drought tolerance also make it a great choice for landscapes and containers. For stunning contrast, combine Ruby Slippers with blue or chartreuse companions. Give it a try this growing season for non-stop garden color and appeal.


How big do Ruby Slippers coleus plants get?

Ruby Slippers is a relatively small variety, reaching 12-18 inches tall and 24 inches wide at maturity.

What are the best companion plants for Ruby Slippers?

Try combining with yellow flowers like coreopsis or marigolds. Blue and purple flowers and foliage plants also make great companions. Silver-leafed plants like dusty miller complement the red tones nicely.

Should I pinch back my Ruby Slippers coleus?

Yes, pinching or pruning leggy growth encourages these coleus to grow fuller and bushier, especially when grown in containers.

How much sun does this coleus need?

Ruby Slippers thrives in full sun but also grows well with some afternoon shade. The foliage shows best color in sunny locations.

Can I overwinter Ruby Slippers coleus?

Yes, take cuttings in late summer or move containers to a protected spot outdoors. Coleus also overwinter well indoors in a sunny window. Reduce watering during winter rest period.

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