11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (2022)

Coleus is often touted as queen of the shade. Used for brightening up dark corners and adding pops of colors to an often uniform green shady space. However, the newer varieties of coleus on the market are actually made to handle sun conditions.

It’s worth noting that you can’t just plant a coleus in direct sunlight and expect it to thrive. You’ll want to take some carfeful consideration as to the sun orientation in your garden, and the times of day your coleus will be exposed to the most amount of sunlight.

The good news is that sunlight is tolerable for many coleus varieties, as long as these factors have been taken into consideration. In fact, their colors get more intense when exposed to full sun. So it’s time to bring coleus out of the shade and into the sun where her delicate foliage can really shine!

Contents

  • 1 Sun Expectations
  • 2 Sun and Coleus Color
  • 3 Sun-Friendly Coleus Varieties
    • 3.1 ColorBlaze Golden Dreams
    • 3.2 ColorBlaze Sedona Sunset
    • 3.3 Wasabi
    • 3.4 Inferno
    • 3.5 Redhead
    • 3.6 Electric Lime
    • 3.7 ColorBlaze Newly Noir
    • 3.8 Main Street Rodeo Drive
    • 3.9 Wicked Witch
    • 3.10 Pink Chaos
  • 4 Final Thoughts

Sun Expectations

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (1)

We already know that coleus doesn’t like the cold, but they don’t love extreme heat or too much sunlight. You can’t just take a Coleus and put it in the baking sun and expect it to have a normal coleus lifespan. There are definitely some considerations to making your coleus perform- and not burn- in a sunny spot.

Watering will be even more important. Coleus across the board can take more sun as long as they are getting a good amount of water. Coleus will tell you when they need a drink when their leaves start drooping. Don’t wait to give them a drink when this happens. They go from droopy to the crispy point of no return rather quickly. Having great soil that is light and fluffy and can absorb and drain water freely is important to keep your coleus healthy.

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If you are placing your coleus in a container, pick a larger container that can hold more water. You can use a small container, but you might be out watering up to three times a day on an extra hot summer day. Use potting soil in containers, it is the perfect blend of water retaining/draining that coleus love.

Lastly, even a coleus in full sun will appreciate a bit of afternoon dappled shade. Even if it is only some protection from another plant. Perhaps a grass next to it in a pot, or under a tree that will give it some shade in the heat of the afternoon. If you have bleached out and crispy leaves it is too much sun.

Sun and Coleus Color

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (2)

The amount of sun a coleus receives will change the colors in its foliage. I will talk about this individually as it pertains to the varieties, but I thought I’d mention how it generally works. More sun will bring out the darker, more intense, colors in their foliage like burgundy, magenta, and sharp golden yellow.

In less sun the colors will become gentler and more subdued, with greens, creams, and pale yellows. This is something to consider when you choose a coleus for a certain aspect.

For example. If you love how a Colorblaze Golden Dreams is a golden yellow with bright red running through its veins then you should keep it in partial sun. It does perform well in full sun, but the entire centre will fill in a bright red color and it will lose that red vein feature. In too much shade, it will lose its intense golden color and change to a more greenish hue with only a small hint of red definition in the veins of the leaves.

Bright red varieties will be a more intense red color when they are more exposed to the sun, and will appear a more faded rust color in shady conditions. This is all a matter of personal preference and the look you’re going for.

So keep in mind, sun=sharp, shade=subdued. If you find your color too dull and faded, move it to more sun and it will brighten back up. Or vice versa for trying to subdue bold colors that have taken over the leaf, move it to a shadier location. The colors are never set in stone and can be played with by moving them into different light conditions.

Sun-Friendly Coleus Varieties

Now without further ado, here are 11 varieties of coleus that are sun lovers. As mentioned, most of these varieites will grow very well in the sunlight, but should have at least some type of protection from too much direct sun at all times. You can add these to your sunny pots and gardens for a beautiful pop of foliage.

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ColorBlaze Golden Dreams

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (3)

Height: 36″ Spread: 24″

I have to mention this one first, it is one of my favorites. It has bright golden leaves with red in the centre and through the veins of the leaf. As I mentioned earlier, the red will be more prominent when this variety is in the full sun. It will lose some of the red in the veins for a solid red. It still makes a very striking contrast. This variety grows large and would look great paired with a red phormium or next to a pure red coleus such as Rediculous.

ColorBlaze Sedona Sunset

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (4)

Height: 36″ Spread: 36″

You will notice quite a few on this list are from the ColorBlaze series. This series of coleus was made for sunny conditions. I love the rusty orange color of Sedona, it is so easy to pair with other plants in a container to create interesting and eye popping combinations. For example, pair Sedona sunset with purple petunias or raven ipomea to bring out the Rusty color.

Wasabi

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (5)

Height: 30″ Spread: 34″

Wasabi is a great coleus. The fringey texture and bright chartreuse color adds a pop of color to pots and gardens. This one can take a variety of conditions, including full sun. It will become a more intense golden green. Place Wasabi next to dark red or purple plants to provide an even greater contrast. Or place the fringey texture foliage next to a more structured foliaged plant like a cordyline dracena for a dramatic contrast.

Inferno

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (6)

Height: 36″ Spread: 24″

Inferno is a blaze of hot red foliage when exposed to regular sun. It has large bright red leaves with serrated edges. This hot red pairs beautifully with purple flowers and chartreuse foliage. It looks great in pots and as a garden border plant.

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Redhead

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (7)

Height: 36″ Spread: 24″

Redhead coleus is a vibrant red coleus that will become an even more vibrant shade of red when regularly exposed to the sun. It has smaller pointed foliage with a serrated edge. It looks great next time chartreuse foliage, try is in the sun with Wasabi Coleus.

Electric Lime

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (8)

Height: 24″ Spread: 24″

Electric Lime is a very versitile coleus, it has a medium green leaf, with lemon yellow running through the veins of the leaf like a jolt of electricity. The colors intense will and contrast nicely with a variety of darker leafed foliage and flowers.

ColorBlaze Newly Noir

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (9)

Height: 36″ Spread: 24″

Newly Noir has dark burgundy wine colored leaves that is intesified in the sun. I love this color when it is paired with baby pink flowers like Pink Lemonade petunias. Add some chartreuse foliage like a lime green ipomea and it is a stunning and unexpected combination.

Main Street Rodeo Drive

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (10)

Height: 18″ Spread: 18″

This full sun variety has very striking foliage. The leaves are deeply ruffled and chartreuse. Then it is speckled and outlined around the margins in a deep burgundy color. More sun will intensify the burgundy. Pair this with other burgundy plants, like raven ipomea, or a purple fountain grass to make the speckles really pop.

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Wicked Witch

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (11)

Height: 36″ Spread: 24″

This is another of my personal favorites. In full sun its center leaves turn a dark red wine colour with just a thin margin of medium green that perfectly frames its ruffled leaf. This would look great in a pot with Wasabi coleus, the contrast of chartreuse playing off the green margins and dark red foliage would be garden harmony.

Saturn

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (12)

Height: 36″ Spread: 24″

Saturn coleus has very intense lime green colored leaves, with a bold ring of burgundy whirling around the margins making it worthy of its planet’s namesake. There will be spots and speckles throughout the margins giving it the same space details of Saturn’s rings. This one pairs beautifully with other coleus with a similar color, Wasabi, or Golden Dreams come to mind. But it is so intricate and pretty, Saturn can definitely stand alone in a pot or garden bed.

Pink Chaos

11 Full Sun Coleus Varieties For Sunny Gardens (13)

Height: 18″ Spread: 18″

Pink Chaos coleus has a bright magenta center, that goes to burgundy, and then a thin green margin. In less sun it will also feature some white. It has elongated and pointed leaves. In full sun Pink Chaos is a vibrant explosion of pink and burgundy, with just a hint of green. It is lovely in pots and in gardens, you don’t even need flowers when you have foliage this bright and sensational.

Final Thoughts

Adding colorful foliage to your garden adds interest and contrast into your garden. Flowers can be unreliable and require deadheading and care throughout the season. But plants like coleus that have showy foliage can provide contrast and interest tomost gardens steady through the season with minimal maintenance.

(Video) So Just WHEN is it Safe to plant Coleus Outside?

Coleus has always been thought of as a shade garden. But being able to grow them in full sun gives them a whole new use to play with the colors of their foliage against full sun flowers. The intense sharp color that happens in full sun coleus plants is stunning and should be added to your garden. Just remember, water, water, water! Have fun, happy gardening!

FAQs

Which coleus is good for full sun? ›

Two of my favorite coleus varieties are 'Wasabi', and 'Redhead', because they are absolutely stunning when planted in the same container and they flourish in the sun. Both grow about the same height and the combination of the chartreuse 'Wasabi' and the wine-colored 'Redhead' is simply stunning.

Is coleus a sun loving plant? ›

Conditions: Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in USDA Hardiness Zone 11. They like warm soils with decent drainage. They are not happy in overly dry conditions. Coleus will grow in full sun to medium shade, but their colors are most vivid in full sun.

Can coleus get too much sun? ›

What is this? Coleus plants do not like too much sun. They prefer to be placed in the shade. Unfortunately, in the shade, the soil is not able to dry out very quickly; if you overwater the plant, the sun will be unable to help the drying process.

How much sun can a coleus take? ›

It grows well in full sun but also tolerates shade. The maroon leaves with rosy edges become more uniformly deep red in shade. It grows 3 feet tall.

How big do sun coleus plants get? ›

Normally reaching 18 to 36 inches tall, sun coleus selections show off a diverse parade of dazzling foliage color combinations flaunting continuous, sassy shows in the garden through the growing season until autumn. This coleus loves the sun, but it is not a cactus and will wilt during hot, dry periods in the summer.

How long do coleus plants live for? ›

The average lifespan of a coleus plant is one year.

It's not uncommon for indoor plants to live between 3-4 years if they are properly cared for, which means proper watering, sunlight, the right soil, and the right plant food to keep it green, and healthy.

Will coleus come back every year? ›

Do coleus come back every year? In tropical climates and in their native environment, Coleus is a perennial plant that can come back every year. During the cold season, the stems die back but the roots don't. This allows perennials to regenerate the following year.

Do coleus plants spread? ›

Coleus Spacing

Coleus typically grow to be 3 feet tall and have a 3-foot spread. These fast-growing mounding plants will quickly fill in the area with a lush foliage wall, so give the plants room to grow. You can pinch off new growth to keep the plant bushy and full if you prefer that look.

How do you keep a coleus bushy? ›

You can make coleus bushy by routinely pinching the stems and leaves from the plant. Over time, the main stem or trunk of your coleus will become strong and support a larger, fuller plant. Regular feeding with a diluted liquid fertilizer can also promote growth.

What is sun coleus? ›

Once relegated exclusively to the shade garden, new cultivars of coleus have found their way to sunny sites. Commonly called sun coleus, these colorful plants flourish in full-sun locations where they are sometimes planted instead of flowers.

How do you stop coleus from becoming leggy? ›

How to stop a Coleus from becoming leggy. - YouTube

What is the tallest coleus plant? ›

According to Official Guinness Records, The tallest coleus plant (Solenostemon scutellarioides) measures 4.04 m (13 ft 3 in) and was grown by Tanos Hage (Lebanon) in Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon, as measured on 19 December 2015. The plant was grown in the greenhouse of Notre Dame University-Louaize.

How many varieties of coleus are there? ›

For a gardener there are almost 300 species of coleus, and over 1500 different varieties.

Does Kong coleus like sun or shade? ›

This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It requires an evenly moist well-drained soil for optimal growth, but will die in standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils.

Can caladiums take full sun? ›

Sun tolerant caladiums can be planted in full sun, keeping in mind that more watering may be necessary. One dwarf caladium, Red Ruffles, and one lance leaf caladium, Gingerland, are sun-loving caladiums. All caladiums are shade or filtered sun lovers.

Is redhead coleus a perennial? ›

Coleus Redhead, Solenostemon 'Uf0646', Plectranthus 'Uf0646' Grown for its vibrant foliage, Solenostemon Redhead (Coleus) is a tropical evergreen tender perennial adorned with soft red leaves, delicately edged with small serrations. Incredibly showy, they keep their vibrant color in the shade.

Should you let coleus Flower? ›

Some gardeners leave the small flowers, but it's best to pinch them off to direct more energy into stem and foliage growth. Coleus left to flower may lose vigor as the plant puts energy into seed production.

How often should you water coleus? ›

Coleus in containers may need watering twice a day during hot weather. Outdoor containers may require water twice a day. Indoor plants need water only when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

Can Creeping Jenny take full sun? ›

Golden creeping jenny as a groundcover in a shady area. L. nummularia 'Aurea' can be planted almost any exposure from full sun to light shade, in moist soils. For the best color, situate the plant so it receives morning sun.

Should you cut back coleus? ›

Only prune mature Coleus plants that are at least 6 inches tall. The best time to prune Coleus is when the plant is actively growing, during the spring and summer. Both leaves and flowers can be removed when pruning Coleus, and you can prune the plant as often as necessary to maintain the desired look.

Where is the best place to plant coleus? ›

Plant coleus in a sunny or partly shaded spot, in moist but well-drained soil. Coleus are low growing, so they look best at the front of a border, combined with other bedding plants, or in pot on a patio. If you're growing coleus as a house plant, grow it in a bright spot that gets a little direct sun.

Can I plant coleus in the ground? ›

They need fertile, well-draining soil and usually perform best in areas with partial shade, though many varieties can also tolerate sun. When growing coleus, keep in mind that these beauties can grow rapidly.

Should I cut back my coleus for winter? ›

During the winter, coleus will lose its color. The plant that you brought indoors will lose some leaves and get straggly. This time of year the plant is entering its dormant stage and as tempting as it is, do not pinch it back. The goal at this point is to keep it alive by watering and monitoring for insects.

Are coleus toxic to dogs? ›

Like many other essential oils, the oil from the coleus is toxic to your dog and can be absorbed through the skin immediately, causing irritation and possible burns to the skin and depression of the central nervous system.

Can I leave coleus outside in winter? ›

The short answer is that coleus are not frost-tolerant plants. While not impossible for them to regrow after a frost, most will likely die if they are exposed to colder temperatures and are hit by frost. They will not survive in areas that get below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can coleus be planted close together? ›

If you plant them too close together, they will not receive adequate airflow which can cause a build up of humidity, possibly leading to fungal infections. I love to grow my coleus in containers on my covered deck.

Do coleus need big pots? ›

Giving the roots more room will help the plant grow taller. By the time it's 3 feet tall, it should be in a heavier, 12-inch container — like terra-cotta. That way, the top-heavy coleus won't tip as easily when it's mature. A smaller standard that's 2 feet tall would be fine in an 8-inch container.

How deep do coleus roots go? ›

Be Wise About Coleus Planting Depths

You should plant coleus about 3 inches deep, which is typically the length of the root mass plus one inch.

How do I make my coleus more colorful? ›

SIMPLEST Way To Make Coleus BUSHY & More Colorful - YouTube

How do you make coleus spread? ›

To pinch back your coleus, simply cut or pinch off any stem at a point where two stems or two leaves are growing from it. Two new branches will begin to grow from where those other stems or leaves meet the main stem that you pinched.

When should you pinch coleus? ›

Plant Care | Learn How to Pinch Back Coleus (and other annuals and ...

Is there a trailing coleus? ›

Trailing sun-loving coleus is an easy-to-grow annual foliage plant that adapts well to hanging baskets and container gardens where it sprawling stems can drape over the edge of the planter.

Is there a purple coleus? ›

Coleus comes in an array of foliage colors, including red, pink, orange, yellow, chartreuse, green, burgundy and purple.

Is campfire coleus a perennial? ›

Coleus Campfire Stupendous!!

They were the most gorgeous deep maroon and goldish color. Both plants were in the front of my house with a western exposure where there was no shade. My only regret is that they are not perennials. This is one plant I will order every year that it is available!

Does coleus like being sprayed with water? ›

Check your plant weekly so these pests don't get a foothold on too many leaves. Spraying a coleus plant with warm water helps keep insects away.

Can you trim leggy coleus? ›

Depending on the variety, coleus can grow upwards of 3 feet tall. Although they are quite sturdy, they can become leggy in appearance and will benefit from being cut back. Remove the growth just above a node where two leaves are growing from the stem. This can be done with your fingers or a pair of gardening scissors.

Why do coleus leaves turn yellow? ›

Coleus plants turn yellow and die when it is watered too much. Coleus also dies of Downy mildew, the infections show on the undersides of the leaves. Coleus plants turn pale if the sunlight is not sufficient/too much. So, you need to care well for the plant if you keep it indoors.

How do I make my coleus more colorful? ›

SIMPLEST Way To Make Coleus BUSHY & More Colorful - YouTube

Does Kong coleus like sun or shade? ›

This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It requires an evenly moist well-drained soil for optimal growth, but will die in standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils.

Where does coleus grow best? ›

Plant coleus in a sunny or partly shaded spot, in moist but well-drained soil. Coleus are low growing, so they look best at the front of a border, combined with other bedding plants, or in pot on a patio. If you're growing coleus as a house plant, grow it in a bright spot that gets a little direct sun.

Will coleus come back every year? ›

Do coleus come back every year? In tropical climates and in their native environment, Coleus is a perennial plant that can come back every year. During the cold season, the stems die back but the roots don't. This allows perennials to regenerate the following year.

How do you get bushy coleus? ›

You can make coleus bushy by routinely pinching the stems and leaves from the plant. Over time, the main stem or trunk of your coleus will become strong and support a larger, fuller plant. Regular feeding with a diluted liquid fertilizer can also promote growth.

How long do coleus plants live for? ›

The average lifespan of a coleus plant is one year.

It's not uncommon for indoor plants to live between 3-4 years if they are properly cared for, which means proper watering, sunlight, the right soil, and the right plant food to keep it green, and healthy.

Why is my purple coleus turning green? ›

Hot climates can be too much for a Coleus, and you may experience that too much sun will result in leaves turning green, white, or fade. In these cases the ideal place for a Coleus will be in a spot with as much indirect light as possible (and up to a few hours of direct light daily).

Can Kong coleus take full sun? ›

While many coleus will tolerate full sun given ample moisture, this series (first Kong® selections introduced over 10 years ago) is known for excellent shade tolerance and massive leaves. Full sun can be tough on these varieties.

Can Kong coleus tolerate sun? ›

Our selection offers a diversity of foliage color, leaf shape, and growth habit, and they all make glorious container subjects. Though most tolerate full sun, they are more valuable for color in shade. This Coleus has crocodile green foliage with a creamy-yellow tear drop center.

Can Kong coleus take sun? ›

The Kong series coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), a variety released in 2004, won't thrive in full sun. The brilliantly colored leaves – described as being as big enough to cover your face – prefer shade with only a touch of morning sun.

How do you keep coleus from getting leggy? ›

You can prune a Coleus to maintain a specific look or shape. Trimming back new growth will prevent the stems from growing long and encourage the plant to push out leaves in other areas. Pruning will maintain a bushy look and create dense foliage.

Do coleus attract pests? ›

Coleus are resistant to most significant disease or insect problems when grown outdoors in properly prepared beds or containers. Some pests to watch for include mealy bugs, aphids, and whiteflies.

How do I use coleus in my garden? ›

Many coleus benefit from attentive removal of their flower spikes (and a set or two of the leaves below them) before they elongate and bloom. Pinching encourages branching and denser growth for a fuller, less spindly plant. It also conserves energy for foliage you want, not spikes and stragglers you don't want.

Should you let coleus Flower? ›

Some gardeners leave the small flowers, but it's best to pinch them off to direct more energy into stem and foliage growth. Coleus left to flower may lose vigor as the plant puts energy into seed production.

Should I cut back my coleus for winter? ›

During the winter, coleus will lose its color. The plant that you brought indoors will lose some leaves and get straggly. This time of year the plant is entering its dormant stage and as tempting as it is, do not pinch it back. The goal at this point is to keep it alive by watering and monitoring for insects.

Can I plant coleus in the ground? ›

They need fertile, well-draining soil and usually perform best in areas with partial shade, though many varieties can also tolerate sun. When growing coleus, keep in mind that these beauties can grow rapidly.

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