Coleus shrubs require little care and come in an incredibly wide combination of colors and patterns, making them a perfect match for any garden. However, these plants are native to tropical climates and don’t do very well when it is cold. Whether you plan to grow your coleus in a pot indoors or in your garden, you should pick a variety that best fits your area’s conditions. Read on to learn more about coleus light requirements, and find out which varieties thrive on sun and shade!
Light Requirements for Coleus
As a general rule, coleus plants love bright light and warm temperatures, but it is best to avoid direct midday sunlight as it can burn the leaves. Ideally, coleus should receive morning sunlight and shade during the afternoon.
Still, finding a balance between light and shade can be tricky; too much sun can scorch your plant, while too much shade will make its colors dull and faded. Moreover, the amount of light coleus tolerates will depend on the variety you choose. Some coleus can maintain their colorful foliage in the shade, and others can stay under direct sunlight all day without scorching.
Growing coleus indoors allows you to pick any variety you like, as you have control over the light it receives. Although these plants are more common in gardens, they can do well in a pot.
The best spot to place your coleus is somewhere with plenty of morning sun but receiving indirect or filtered light during the day. If your house is warm enough, and you keep a close eye on your plant, it may even survive the winter!
Best Coleus Varieties for Shade
You can grow beautiful coleus plants even if your garden doesn’t get much sunlight. Some varieties are more sensitive to light and do best in shady places.
Be careful not to overwater your coleus, as less sunlight also means more humidity in the soil, and a soggy medium can lead to root rot.
This variety does best in full shade, away from direct or reflected sunlight. They can reach a height of 30 inches and spread to around 28 inches. You can put them in your garden or plant them in pots and hanging baskets.
Honey Crisp coleus has large serrated leaves that combine different shades of bright pink and yellow in a mottled pattern. The color fades at the tips into a creamy white, and the veins and edges are a deep shade of maroon.
With a height of 20 inches and a spread of 18 inches, Kong Mosaic coleus is ideal for full shade and as an indoor plant. It does not tolerate direct sunlight very well.
Its appearance is unique and stands out from other coleus varieties. It has large, pointy leaves, each with different variegations of green, white, pink, and red shades.
Stained Glassworks Molten Lava
This variation belongs to the Stained Glassworks Series, and it can reach a height of 24 inches and a spread of 20 inches. Molten Lava has a mounded shape and does well in gardens and pots.
Its leaves are oval-shaped with ruffled edges and come in varying shades of red and purple. The centers are usually deeper with maroon coloring, while the edges are orange-pink.
Best Coleus Varieties for Full Sun
If your garden receives direct light all day, you should choose a sun-tolerant variety. On the right plant, the intense sunlight will bring out the colors of the foliage, making your garden pop.
Always keep the soil moist, as coleus loves humidity, and this will prevent the leaves from scorching.
The Henna variety does well in sunny spots with either full or partial sunlight. It can grow up to 30 inches and has a spread of 20 inches, and you can plant them in garden beds or containers.
This variety is best known for its deeply serrated, chartreuse-colored leaves with pink centers and splotches. The underside has a deep burgundy color that produces an eye-catching contrast.
The Colorblaze Torchlight coleus can reach up to 40 inches in height with a spread of 36 inches, making them ideal for mass planting. It is incredibly versatile, as it can tolerate full sun and shade.
With pointy leaves and intense, dark colors, it makes a stunning addition to your garden. Its tricolor scheme features fuchsia centers surrounded by burgundy and chartreuse edges.
You should avoid this variety if you have pets, as it is toxic to dogs and cats. It usually grows to 3 feet and has a similar spread. Although this coleus performs best in full sun, it can also do well in partial shade.
Coleosaurus has pointy, serrated leaves and features a classic color combination for coleus plants. The yellow-green shades have deep burgundy centers and veins.
Want to learn even more about this amazing plant? Check out our complete guide to coleus here.
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- South Dakota State University, Available here: https://extension.sdstate.edu/coleus-color-every-garden
- Pennington (1970) How to Create a Shade Garden with Coleus, available here: https://www.pennington.com/all-products/fertilizer/resources/make-shade-gardens-shine-with-colorful-coleus