Coleus Leaves: Color Varieties and Other Fun Facts

'Wizard Velvet' red coleus
© Irina Kononova/Shutterstock.com

Written by Phil Dubley

Updated: November 15, 2022

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The coleus plant is an excellent choice if you’re looking to add a touch of brightness and color to your garden. One thing that sets this foliage plant apart is its incredible number of varieties and colors.

Thanks to its versatility and flexibility, coleus is making a spectacular comeback in the modern garden, and more and more people are choosing it to bring that much-needed touch of distinction. In addition, many of its properties can be modified depending on how it is planted, creating a wealth of exciting variations for any garden.

This article will cover everything related to coleus leaves’ color so you can fully understand what affects it and how to get the perfect color for your garden. Let’s begin!

wizard jade coleus

This ‘Wizard Jade’ coleus features an impressive yellow/green contrast on its leaves.

©Gurcharan Singh/Shutterstock.com

Coleus Leaves Color Varieties

Coleus, scientifically known as Coleus scutellarioides, has dozens of varieties. Each displays different patterns and colors that will add striking contrast to your garden or home. 

Below we list some of the most exciting and vibrant coleus varieties so you’ll know what to look for if you need a specific color in your plant collection.

Variety NameColorComments
‘Watermelon’Pink and GreenOne of the most popular varieties and a beautiful combination of colors!
‘Fishnet’Dark PurpleIdeal for a more gloomy, dramatic look
‘Limelight’Lime-GreenClassic color that combines easily with other plants
‘Alabama’Yellow and PinkAlso called ‘Alabama Sunset,’ this variety brings incredible vibrancy to your garden
‘Picture Perfect Salmon Pink’Green, Salmon, and PinkIts pastel tones belong to a painting!
‘Big Red Judy’RedThis variety grows well in full shade or full sun
‘Rustic Orange’Orange and RedIt features a yellow-green border with intense center colors
‘Super-Fine Rainbow Festive Dance’Chocolate BrownUseful for both garden beds and containers
‘Henna’Red and BrownThis variety features a really distinctive tone and texture, perfect for adding variety to a pot

What Determines Coleus Leaves’ Colors?

Essentially, the most determining element for a coleus variety to obtain a specific shade or color is its exposure to sunlight. Many gardening enthusiasts and even scientists have conducted various experiments to test what processes are set in motion when a coleus plant receives sunlight.

The scientific explanation is that sunlight increases certain critical coleus components, such as anthocyanin, and reduces others, such as chlorophyll, causing color changes. However, not all sunlight is the same. The colors are usually more pronounced and vivid if you place coleus in the bright, indirect sun. On the other hand, their colors will fade if you put them in full sun for many hours. Full sun can even burn the leaves in summer, so be careful.

'Chocolate Covered Cherry' coleus

The different varieties of coleus show off an impressive selection of colors, such as this ‘Chocolate Covered Cherry’ coleus.

©Dafinka/Shutterstock.com

Nevertheless, coleus that grows directly in full sun will develop more pigmentation for protection, resulting in powerful and intense colors. Of course, the sun in each region is different and is an essential variable in plant growth.

Still, sunlight is not the only explanation. The place where coleus is planted plays a significant role in its color, texture, and overall health. Many users report color changes depending on the soil or container used and its fertilization.

Why Is My Coleus Losing Its Color?

If you feel that your coleus does not look as radiant as usual, it may be due to various reasons. As mentioned before, the sun is a crucial factor and one which we must have a great deal of respect for. However, assuming that more sun means more color is dangerous and wrong. 

One of the reasons your coleus may be losing color is overexposure to sunlight. Just as sunlight produces chemical processes that benefit the plant, it can also give the coleus excessive amounts of heat that result in sunburn. If your plant gets sunburned, its colors will fade and turn yellow and droop. To prevent this from happening, keep your coleus away from direct sunlight. Instead, find a place where they can receive indirect sunlight, such as by a window.

Another cause of your coleus leaves losing color may be underwatering. Like many other houseplants, coleus suffers greatly from dry soil. When they are dehydrated, their leaves begin to lose color and wilt.

Other causes why your coleus is losing color include:

  • Overwatering
  • Temperature stress
  • Lack of potting soil
  • Overfeeding fertilizers

Keeping Coleus Colors

You’ve already learned what you should do to keep your coleus healthy, but what are the things you should do to keep its colors in their best possible shape? 

For a coleus plant to maintain bright colors, it is essential that it receives a considerable amount of light. As mentioned, avoid leaving it in direct sunlight for long periods of time and ensure it gets as much indirect light as possible during the day. Coleus also needs to be kept at a temperature of 60ºF or higher.

Also, keeping it in rich soil will favor its growth and the intensity of its colors. You should aim for soil rich in loam and sand with a touch of manure if you want your coleus to show vivid colors.

By following these steps, you should have no problem keeping the colors of your coleus intense and bright. If your coleus has been potted for some time, some nitrogen-rich fertilizer will definitely help it grow strong and healthy.

Want to learn more about this amazing plant? Check out our complete guide to the coleus here.

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About the Author

My name is Phil Dubley, I am a Canadian living in Argentina, but tomorrow I could be writing from anywhere else. Throughout my life, I've been in love with nature: plants, animals, people, and everything in it. I have a passion for wild animals - snakes, sharks, and felines have always fascinated me. As for plants, I love succulents. I have a collection of over ten different varieties on my terrace. Also, I use the hemp plant as CBD oil for sleep: it has been the only thing to tackle my insomnia effectively. I want to share all my knowledge about the areas I am passionate about with others who feel the same way. I hope you enjoy my articles, and in each one, you learn something new!

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