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Colorful Coleus Plant Combinations

By: James A. Baggett
Brighten your shade garden with these colorful coleus plant combinations that will make any garden bed or border pop!

Coleosaurus and Blonde bombshell coleus plants with impatiens lead: The interesting and colorful foliage of coleus makes it a no-brainer paired with other shade garden classics like impatiens.

Add coleus plants for color in shade

Every garden has its own special challenges. If shade is one of those challenges for you, here are four hard-working shade-tolerant combos that will transform a less-than-light spot into a colorful, long-lasting display featuring coleus plants. Whether your entire yard is under a tree, or you just need some contrast for a shady patio, these annual combos can brighten even the darkest corner. (Many of the plants featured are tender perennials that we typically grow as annuals.) And since annuals grow, bloom and fade in a single season, you can change your planting plan every year to keep it fresh.

Defining shade

All of these coleus plant combos will thrive in part to full shade. An area is considered part shade if it receives 4 to 6 hours of light per day or all day dappled light. Full shade means that a spot gets less than 4 hours of light per day.

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Sedona Sunset coleus with twinspur and sedge: Add texture to garden beds with this colorful combination of foliage and fine flowers.

Sow a summer sunset

There’s no reason you can’t ignite low-light situations with a color combination that seems to glow like embers. All the plants here can take either sun or shade; however, the twinspur will bloom best in full sun. If they start to fade in the heat, cut them back a few inches and keep them well-watered. The golden-brown sedge requires very little care. Pinch off the coleus blooms as they appear if you wish to keep the focus on the orange foliage.

A) Sedona Sunset® coleus Plectranthus scutellarioides
Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); soft, copper-orange leaves with spikes of blue flowers in late summer to fall; full sun to part shade; 24 to 40 in. tall, 18 to 36 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11
B) ‘Toffee Twist’ sedge Carex flagellifera
Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); delicate bronze leaves; full sun to part shade; 18 to 24 in. tall and wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10
C) ‘Flirtation Orange’ twinspur Diascia hybrid
Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); dainty spikes of orange pealike flowers from late spring to late summer; full sun to part shade; 10 to 12 in. tall, trailing up to 24 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 10


Coleosaurus coleus with pink impatiens and blonde bombshell coleus: Mix a couple coleus varieties along with impatiens for a colorful show in shade.

Carnival-colored coleus fireworks

Few plants provide as much bang for your buck as coleus. Their multicolored foliage — in combinations of green, yellow, pink, red, white and maroon — come in an endless variety of leaf sizes and overall shapes. Pair them with impatiens for a no-brainer pyrotechnic display. Impatiens are a very orderly plant and don’t require much deadheading. Their dense foliage keeps the soil moist and cool for its colorful companions.

A) Big Bounce Lavender, Cherry and Violet impatiens Impatiens hybrid 
Annual; flat, five-petaled flowers in white, pink, lilac and red all season; full sun to full shade; 20 to 30 in. tall, 20 to 36 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11
B) ‘Coleosaurus’ coleus Plectranthus scutellarioides
Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); vibrant dark red and lime-green leaves; full sun to part shade; 14 to 28 in. tall, 24 to 36 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11
C) ‘Blonde Bombshell’ coleus Plectranthus hybrid
Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); golden-yellow leaves striped with lime-green and purple stems; full sun to part shade; 14 to 24 in. tall, 14 to 16 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

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Campfire coleus with Campfire Fireburst bidens: The red foliage of ‘Campfire’ coleus ignites along with Campfire Fireburst bidens in this fiery combination.

Light a campfire with this coleus plant combination

Contrast the dainty flowers and fine foliage of bidens with the bold, showy leaves of coleus. The bidens here creates the illusion of sparks igniting a summer campfire under the stars.

A) ‘Campfire’ coleus Plectranthus scutellarioides
Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); vibrant and velvety orange-copper leaves in a compact habit with spikes of blue flowers in late summer to fall; full sun to sull shade; 14 to 36 in. tall, 24 to 36 iin. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11
B) Campfire® Fireburst bidens Bidens hybrid
Annual; delicate red, yellow and orange flowers all season; full sun; 8 to 12 in. tall, 18 to 24 in. wide


Kong Jr. Scarlet Coleus with Impatiens: Combine colorful impatiens with interesting foliage of coleus for a simple shade garden pairing.

Turn up the color

Recruit coleus into service as an edger around bold-blooming impatiens. The coleus here acts as a sort of two-toned dust ruffle to the bed of pretty pink impatiens.

A) Big Bounce™ Cherry impatiens Impatiens hybrid 
Annual; flat, five-petaled flowers in white, pink, lilac and red all season; full sun to full shade; 20 to 30 in. tall, 20 to 36 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11
B) Kong Jr.™ Scarlet coleus Plectranthus scutellarioides
Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual); small, serrated pointy scarlet leaves with lemon-yellow edges with spikes of blue flowers in late summer to fall; 18 to 24 in. tall, 20 to 35 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 11

Published: June 2, 2021
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annuals tender perennials garden design part shade shade

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