17 Spectacular Coleus Varieties For Sun And Growing Tips

Coleus plants are perfect when you want a lot of dramatic colors very quickly, as they grow in very little time, and it helps that they aren’t complicated plants to care for. 

These plants come in pretty much any shade and color combination you can think of, so there is a type for every garden style and planting scheme.

Some varieties stay fairly compact, while others can reach impressive heights. Most coleus plants are treated as annuals, sown from seed each year, making them inexpensive.

You can get some varieties that are tender perennials if you prefer, but they are so easy to grow that there is no disadvantage in growing them as annuals.

Thanks to how popular these plants are, as well as how easy they are to hybridize, there are many varieties to choose from.

Here are some of the most fascinating varieties you can grow in your own garden, along with some tips to keep them happy and healthy.

Coleus Varieties For Sunny Spots

Coleus ‘Black Dragon’

For velvety leaves with frilled edges, ‘Black Dragon’ is a good option. 

While the shape sounds delicate-looking, the plant has a tough appearance, with leaves that almost look aglow in lava, featuring crimson middles, and nearly ash-gray edges.

This plant can reach 18 inches tall, making it a fairly compact coleus. ‘Black Dragon’ needs partial shade for at least some of the day, preferably in the afternoon when the sun is stronger.

Coleus ‘Campfire’

For a warm glow in any garden, ‘Campfire’ really lives up to its name, featuring dark orange leaves with hints of pink and even lilac.

It can reach between one and two feet tall when mature.

Coleus ‘Chocolate Covered Cherry’

This variety is more compact, reaching about 30cm tall when mature. It makes up for its small size in its impact with color, boasting bright pink to burgundy leaves, finished off with nearly neon green borders.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Golden Dreams’

Part of the ‘ColorBlaze’ coleus line, ‘Golden Dreams’ is a beautiful variety which branches freely. 

This means that you won’t have to worry about trimming back your plant to get a dense growth habit, as it will produce multiple branches by itself.

It can reach 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide in the right conditions, and the appearance of the leaves is dictated by how much light the plant gets.

In shade, ‘Golden Dreams’ features mostly green leaves with deep burgundy veins. When you place it in the sun (and it can withstand sun better than other varieties) this beautiful burgundy takes over, pushing the green to the outer borders of the leaves.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Lime Time’

Reaching between 2 and 3 feet tall, ‘Lime Time’ is an odd variety in that it remains a single color, but what a color. 

The leaves stand out in any garden scheme with the almost violent shade of lime, but it will work well as a statement in any garden.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Newly Noir’

Reaching between 2 and 3 feet tall and capable of spreading to 3 feet wide,  ‘Newly Noir’ is a beautiful variety that features deep plum leaves, which can look black in certain lights.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Rediculous’

For gorgeous, velvety, wine-red foliage, ‘Rediculous’ is the one to go for. It can reach between 20in to 2 feet tall, depending on the growing conditions, and will grow happily in a pot or in the ground.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Royale Alligator Tears’

If you are looking for a coleus with thin and narrow leaves, ‘Royale Alligator Tears’ might be the one for you. 

It features bright green leaves with a yellowish stripe in the middle of each leaf, bringing out the beauty in the foliage’s shape.

It’s a compact variety, reaching between 12 and 20in tall, making it perfect for a patio pot.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Royale Apple Brandy’

‘Royale Apple Brandy’ is a striking coleus which features narrow purple and chartreuse leaves. Like most of the ‘ColorBlaze’ range, it will withstand full sun better than some varieties.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Royale Cherry Brandy’

Ranging between 20in and 2 feet tall at maturity, ‘Royale Cherry Brandy’ has deep burgundy to red leaves, which adopt almost a silvery sheen in some lights.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Sedona Sunset’

Boasting copper-orange leaves, this plant is spectacular, but the new growth adds another dimension, as it develops a pinkish purple tinge.

It can reach between 2 and 3 feet tall, and if you look closely enough, you’ll see that the edges of the leaves are bright green.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Torchlight’

If you prefer coleus leaves to have three colors (see also Top Colorful Foliage Plants), ‘Torchlight’ is a good option. 

Each leaf is a marvel, showing off nearly neon pink veins at the center of each leaf, edged in maroon, and finally bordered by bright green.

It can reach between 2 and 3 feet tall, and it won’t take long to get to its mature height if you give it the right growing conditions.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Velveteen’

‘Velveteen’ is a great name for this variety, as it features soft leaves in shades of deep purple and pink.

Coleus ‘ColorBlaze Wicked Hot’

Reaching between 2 and 3 feet tall,  ‘Wicked Hot’ produces stunning ruffled leaves in shades of copper and yellow. The new growth is also tinged with purple along the veins, giving the plant a great contrast.

Coleus ‘Flamethrower Salsa Roja’

Perfect for sun or dappled shade, ‘Flamethrower Salsa Roja’ features bright red leaves with a blue tint with a velvety texture.

Coleus ‘Kong Rose’

Most tricolored varieties have only a hint of green at the borders. With ‘Kong Rose’, this lovely variety features thick green borders, fuchsia centers, and veins that are deep purple.

The leaves themselves can reach 30cm long, making a dramatic display in any garden.

Coleus ‘Stained Glassworks Royalty’

For deep purple and bright fuchsia foliage, this is the variety to go for. It will thrive in a sunny position as well as in partial shade and makes a statement in any area of the garden.

It reaches a maximum height of 45cm, spreading about the same, making it perfect for compact areas or in containers.

How To Get The Best Out Of Coleus Outdoors

While it is worth mentioning that you can grow coleus indoors, they only reach their full potential outside, where you will get the very best out of these beautiful plants.

Sunlight And Position

The majority of coleus species do better in partial shade for at least part of the day, especially in the afternoon when the sun is at its strongest. 

Some varieties will tolerate full sunlight, and it is worth mentioning that the colors tend to be at their best when they can get plenty of light.

For best results, most coleus plants will do better with morning sunlight and afternoon shade.

This gives them enough sunlight to produce fabulous colors, but not too much so that the plant gets scorched, and the beautiful leaves die off.

Coleus plants will not tolerate frosts of any kind, dying back as soon as the temperatures drop.

This is why many people treat them as annuals, as they cannot tolerate freezing temperatures, so keep this in mind. 

They are so easy to grow that treating them as annuals is often less complicated than overwintering them indoors or trying to give them some form of protection outdoors.

These plants like a warm position, so if you can, keep them away from winds. 

If you do plant them somewhere more sheltered, make sure that they don’t bake in sunlight all day, and give them some respite from the sun.

You can always start them off indoors when sowing seeds (which for coleus plants, this can be done at any time of year), hardening them off gradually once temperatures reach 50°F as the bare minimum.

The Best Soil For Coleus

Coleus plants have a broad tolerance when it comes to soil type. 

They will thrive in pretty much anything you have but will do better when there is good drainage (especially if you plant them in shade), and at least some nutrients in the soil.

If you’re planning on growing coleus in pots, use a standard compost mix.

When To Water Coleus

Depending on where you plant your coleus, this will dictate how often you need to water. 

Somewhere that gets a lot of sunlight will mean that the plant dries out much quicker, but this will also help prevent disease, too.

Coleus plants don’t like to dry out completely, so keep the soil damp. If the soil gets too dry, the plant will wilt, in which case you need to give it a good soaking, and quick!

Be careful not to overwater coleus plants that are grown in shade, as they will take longer to dry out, so keep an eye on the leaves. When they start to wilt, give the plants a thorough soaking.

Should You Feed Coleus?

Coleus plants don’t need much fertilizer to thrive. Aim for once a month during the growing season, using a balanced liquid fertilizer, and this will give the plant a boost.

A Note On Coleus Flowers

It’s worth mentioning that coleus plants do produce flowers, usually at the end of the season in summer. 

Many people remove the buds as soon as they spot them, to encourage the plant to produce more leaves, as the flowers aren’t as stunning.

Another reason for removing them is that once a coleus plant flowers, it can lose its vigorous growth habit, often dying back once they produce seed.

Final Thoughts

Coleus plants are unmatched for their beautiful leaves, available in a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes.

It also helps that if you have the space to grow them from seed, they are very cheap to produce, and look gorgeous during spring and summer, adding plenty of drama to your garden.

These aren’t demanding plants, and it takes very little effort to get them to thrive, though you may want to pinch off the flowers as soon as you see them.

Just keep in mind that they will die in freezing temperatures, and too bright a position can scorch the stunning foliage. 

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