Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Colorful Leaves

Sometimes a leaf can be just as eye-catching as a bloom.  Different varieties of coleus are planted each year as annuals throughout the garden.  Some are pass-alongs from other's gardens, some are over-wintered from cuttings placed in water and brought into the house and some are purchased new each spring.

Most come without any identification.  That's fine with me, I wouldn't remember their names anyway.  The colors reflect the caladium colors and provide a nice contrast of leaf shape.  With similar light and water needs, these two plants make a good pairing.

Frilly leaves of bright chartreuse, purple, pink, and cream all create a bright spot in the shade gardens.  There are some coleus that can take quite a lot of sun but all of mine are planted in dappled shade.  They seem less thirsty with more shade. 

The variegated cast-iron plant which is another plant that was passed-along to me, is really starting to settle into its spot and put out more of those lovely leaves.  The cast-iron plant is an old Southern shade garden staple that is not that easy to find for sale at garden centers.  Aren't gardening friends the best?

Last May, this curcuma was blooming.  Not this May.  But, I love the leaves with that burgundy mid-rib and count on their appearing each year.  They show up by April and last through November.  The beautiful fuschia bloom is a bonus I hope to get soon.

Lots of caladiums were planted beneath the big oak tree this spring and they haven't disappointed me a bit.  My new favorite foliage plant, blood leaf irisine, shines in the slanting rays of the afternoon sun.  It is an eye-catcher for sure.   Irisine is another plant that is easy to propagate from cuttings.  I had a few small cuttings that were planted last fall that weren't fazed by the cold weather.  I'm hoping that the ones I've spread around in other areas will be as hardy.

I love having interesting foliage plants as much as I do the flowering plants.  They all have their unique charms.


  1. Coleus are wonderful fillers aren't they. I have never seen a variegated cast iron plant before, very nice. The plant with the burgandy vein is very attractive.

  2. Oh, those are very beautiful leaves. I sure can see why you love that bloodleaf plant. Some coleus in my garden has been growing since last year, and they are getting HUGE! Your curcuma looks very nice, and mine just came out of ground, and I do hope they can flower for me this year. I bought it from HD last year when they had flowers. Do you put them in a more shaded area? Some of mine are in a partial sun area (maybe 4 hours +), I am thinking to move them.

    I too love that variegated cast-iron plant, wonderful addition to your beautiful garden.

  3. I have really fallen for coleus this year. It is so tempting every time I see a new color to buy it. Then of course I take cuttings. The colors are amazing. They let you know if they are getting too much sun. Have a red one which, I thought, was getting enough shade, but the red on the top leaves has bleached out so it must be time to move it.

    A friend gave me what she called Hawaiian Ginger, but it looks just like your curcuma (red vein on leaf).

    Happy Gardening!

  4. Darla - Coleus are wonderful for filling in the many empty spots in my garden. I only wish they lasted through winter.

    Ami - There are many different varieties of curcumas. Mine are 'zedoaria' and live in dappled shade.

    Siesta Sister - I have more types of coleus this year than ever before. Like you, I'm loving all the colors!

  5. About Liatris spicata--Mine are not native, I ordered the seeds two years ago. They are hardy zones 3 - 9...you should give them a try.

  6. Kay,
    Some of my favorites you have highlighted here. I adore the way coleus and caladiums just 'fit' together in the filtered light. I believe the first coleus is 'rose kong' and the second one Peter's Wonder... just in case you do want to know. I'm a BIG FAN of bloodleaf... when the rays of sunlight catch the leaves it is ON FIRE!!! Better than flowers that fade. :-)


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