Coleus Varieties: 35 Different Types of Coleus Cultivars

Thinking of planting some coleus but aren't sure which variety to pick? There are over 300 different coleus species, and over 1500 different varieties, so choosing the right one can be a bit of a challenge! In this article, certified master gardener and coleus expert Laura Elsner walks through some of her favorite types of coleus plants!

coleus varieties


I am a self professed foliage fanatic! Flowers are great, but they come and go, really striking foliage sticks around in a garden all season long. Coleus is just what I need to feed my love of leaves. They come in almost every color and pattern one can imagine (not blue, don’t fall for the blue coleus images floating around the internet, they’re not real!), and they can be placed in a wide variety of sun/shade conditions. There is definitely a coleus variety for your garden that appeals to your aesthetic and fits your space.

Coleus are actually a botanist’s nightmare, they keep changing species and the nomenclature changes and species are split up based on miniscule scientific properties. But let’s leave that for them to figure out. For a gardener there are almost 300 species of coleus, and over 1500 different varieties. I will barely be scratching the surface of the coleus world in this article since I will only be talking about 35 of them.

Some varieties are always out and about in garden centers. While others are more rare and elusive and will have to be tracked down by ordering seeds (perhaps cuttings) from other coleus enthusiasts, or flipping through seed catalogs.

Some Notes About Coleus

Coleus are often just assumed to be shade plants. While they do great in the shade, and some of the older varieties are meant for shade, there have been so many new introductions to coleus that take full sun. The amount of sun will change the foliage colors in coleus. The more sun, the more intense and dark colors like burgundy and magenta will come out. Just make sure you aren’t planting a shade variety in a sunny area, or it will shorten your coleus lifespan.

The less sun and the more the yellow, green, and cream will come out in the leaves. If the leaves are getting crispy or bleached out, it means they are receiving too much sun. Even the full sun varieties appreciate a bit of dappled afternoon shade.

When using coleus in a garden, I really pay attention to the color of the foliage and what I can place next to it to make the coleus, or the other plant, really pop. For instance, a darker red color coleus (eg. Rediculous) goes great in a pot with purple fountain grass and yellow butterfly daisies.

The yellow and the purple really bring out the red in the coleus. Or you can play up the chartreuse margins that some coleus have (e.g. Golden Dreams) by planting it with other chartreuse plants(e.g. golden lysimachia) . It makes the other color in the center of the coleus leaf really stand out.

When you’re in a garden center a great trick is to just start layering and placing plants together. It’s like when you wear that one sweater that really brings out the colors in your eyes. Find the plant that brings out the colors in your coleus’s foliage. It’s almost magic when you put the perfect plant next to a coleus and it pops, you’ll just know.

So have fun and play with the rainbow of coleus and create beauty in your garden, even if your coleus will live in colder climates. Here are some of my favorite coleus varieties that I personally love, and I hope you will find a few in this list that you love too. In no particular order.


Campfire Coleus Variety
The campfire variety is distinctly red, and can look great as a potted plant.

Height: 20” Spread 20”

Campfire coleus is a lovely rust colored variety that has a mounded growth habit. It looks great in pots with perhaps purple trailing petunias spilling out. It also makes for a great border in an annual bed, with something taller behind (eg. argyranthemum), and then a low growing annual (lobelia) in front.

ColorBlaze Golden Dreams

Colorblaze Golden Dreams Plant
The Colorblaze Golden Dreams has a beautiful electric green color.

Height 36” Spread: 24”

This is one of my favorite varieties, Golden Dreams is an electric lime color with dark red veins running through it. If this one is placed in more sun, the red becomes more pronounced, and if it is placed in shady conditions it will be more eclectic lime colored. This one grows big and beautiful in pots and in the ground. I like playing up the lime color by planting next to something chartreuse like a lemon cypress, or playing up the red by planting with a red coleus, like ‘Rediculous’.

ColorBlaze Rediculous

Colorblaze Rediculous
Another beautiful option for a red colored plant is the rediculous cultivar.

Height: 36” Spread: 24”

Rediculous is another great coleus from the ColorBlaze series. It features big bold red leaves that, as with all the ColorBlaze series, can handle both sun and shade conditions. This one looks great in planters with other flowers that have a bit of red that you really want to play up. For instance any calibrachoa with a red eye will really pop next to a Rediculous coleus.

Dragon Heart

Dragon Heart Coleus
The dragon heart has a beautiful variety of colors from burgundy, to chartreuse.

Height: 28” Spread: 28”

Dragon heart has beautiful, slightly pointed chartreuse leaves. In the center its dragon heart is a dramatic fuschia that bleeds to a burgundy through the veins and then turns chartreuse. The more sun Dragon Heart receives the more pink and burgundy it will have, if planted in shade, the more chartreuse it will be. This one looks great in a pot all on it’s own, or with complimentary pink or chartreuse plants.

El Brighto

El Brighto
The El Brighto is another unique looking variety, that can make a great centerpiece.

Height: 36” Spread: 36”

El Brighto has long pointed leaves with wavy margins. The color on this one is just magic. It has a dark burgundy center, that is surrounded by medium green which is surrounded by another margin of burgundy, then it fades to a lighter pink with a bright yellow edge all around it’s wavy edge. It’s like a party on a leaf! Use this coleus as a centerpiece in a container since it will steal the show.

Electric Lime

Electric Lime Coleus
The electric lime variety is very easy to spot with its electric green leaves.

Height: 24” Spread 24”

This is a very popular upright coleus that features medium green leaves with bright yellow veins. It is so popular because of its versatility, it’s a great background filler because it is a neutral color, but the intricacy of it’s yellow veined leaves give it that extra punch that a plain green foliage plant lacks. Play with this one as filler in pots, or directly in the garden.

ColorBlaze Wicked Witch

Wicked Witch Cultivar
This particular variety, has a beautiful ruffled green margin around the edges.

Height 30” Spread: 30”

This is another personal favorite of mine. Wicked Witch has smaller dark, burgundy almost black leaves and a lime green ruffled margin. The ruffle is really defined in bright green, like a witch’s wand zapped it.  This one looks great in pots or near other chartreuse foliage plants, perhaps a lemon cypress, that will make that ruffled outer edge really pop.

French Quarter

French Quarter Cultivar
The french quarter is a very popular and slightly more common variety.

Height: 36” Spread: 36”

French Quarter coleus is a classic color combination for coleus. It is a large leaf coleus that features a bright magenta center that goes outward into a burgundy color that runs through the veins and outwards into a chartreuse leaf. Play up the bright magenta center by planting in a pot with magenta calibrachoa or petunias. Or, play up the chartreuse edges by having Lysimachia (creeping Jenny) spilling out with the pot. This one can also stand alone in a pot, or go into the garden in a mass planting.

Trusty Rusty

Trusty Rusty
The trusty rusty is another rust colored variety.

Height: 24” Spread: 20”

Trusty Rusty has large rust colored leaves with a golden yellow margin. It looks great in mixed containers, as well as planted in the ground. It’s slightly variegated foliage looks great next to solid colored plants such as sweet potato vine, or a Rediculous coleus.

ColorBlaze Royale Cherry Brandy

Height: 24” Spread: 24”

As you probably noticed, I love the Colorblaze series of coleus. They grow fast and lush and can really fill up a pot or garden bed. Royal Cherry Brandy is a nice even velvet burgundy color (for more vibrant burgundy place in more sun), what really makes this coleus stand out is the thin deeply serrated leaves, this fine texture plays really well in containers with wider leaf foliage, and grasses.

Wizard Rose

Wizard Rose Coleus
The Wizard Rose coleus makes for a great border and edge perennial.

Height: 14” Spread: 12”

The Wizard series of coleus are low growing and make great borders and edges, or even a low filler plant in a container. I find Wizard Rose is a fairly common coleus to find in garden centers and nurseries, or to purchase as seed. Its leaves have bright pink centers, then creamy white, followed by a medium green border.

Kong Red Coleus

Kong Red Coleus
Another red option, the Kong Red Coleus is a stunning plant.

Height: 20” Spread: 20”

Kong series coleus have extra large leaves. Kong red has a dark burgundy center with a magenta inner stripe and chartreuse edges. The giant leaves give Kong Red a Jurassic park feel. This looks great in both pots and in the garden, it definitely won’t be lost amongst the other plants.

Kong Rose

Kong Rose Cultivar
The Kong Rose is a common cultivar, and has beautiful burgundy veins.

Height: 20” Spread: 20”

Kong Rose is similar to Kong Red except it has a large green margin with burgundy veins and a magenta center, sometimes there will be patches of white in this variety (this depends on sun conditions). Kong coleus are often found in garden centers with the bedding out plants, they are popular. Their large leaves don’t get lost in pots or in the garden.

Wizard Jade

Wizard Jade Variety
The Wizard Jade has a white center in the middle of the leaves.

Height: 12” Spread: 12”

Wizard Jade is a simple and elegant variety, its leaves have a creamy white center and a sharp, medium green border. This one is a favorite for indoor use as it is a nice neutral color that has all the green and white appeal of say a nerve plant, but with far less fuss. I also like this one in pots as filler, especially if you are going for an elegant green and white themed pot (alyssum, white begonias etc.).

Wizard Mosaic

Wizard Mosaic Cultivar
The wizard mosaic has chartreuse leaves and plenty of burgundy splattered on the leaves.

Height: 12” Spread: 12”

This is my favorite in the wizard series, I actually have never been able to find it on it’s own and I always have to pick through 6-pack of Wizard Mix coleus and find the ones that have at least one Wizard Mosaic coleus. This one has bright, chartreuse leaves with blotches of burgundy all over, as if Mother Nature just splashed it with a paint brush. It looks great in a pot with other pure burgundy coleus (Rediculous), or in the very front of a garden border.

Black Dragon

Black Dragon Cultivar
The black dragon is more of a dark purple color, rather than black as the name would indicate.

Height: 12” Spread: 12”

Black Dragon is a  dark maroon/purple variety with deeply ruffled leaves. The center tends to be a lighter maroon color and the edge a dramatic dark burgundy. It looks great when placed next to steely silver plants, like dusty miller, artemisia, or dichondra. In fact a garden bed with Black Dragon coleus and then dusty millers in front would look fabulous.

Fishnet Stockings

Fishnet Stockings Plant
The fishnet stockings cultivar is easy to identify with leaves that look like the name suggests.

Height: 30” Spread: 16”

Fishnet Stockings is such a fun and unique variety, it has bright electric lime leaves and then dark dark purple, almost black, veins running through it. The more sun it receives the more dark red will appear. This one looks great on its own in a pot, or mixed with other coleus and foliage plants such as a Sweet Caroline Raven Ipomea to really pop that dark purple veining. Another fun combination would be Fishnets Stockings with black petunias or pansies for a lovely gothic feel.

Wizard Coral Sunrise

Wizard Coral Sunrise
As the name suggests, the coral sunrise has coral colored centers.

Height: 12” Spread: 12”

Wizard Coral Sunrise has beautiful salmon pink leaves in the center with blotches of a dark burgundy brown around it (this will be more pronounced in more sun) and then it is all surrounded with a nice medium green margin. Salmon isn’t as common a color in coleus which makes this one unique. Coral Sunrise looks great as a filler plant in containers, or as a low lying annual border in the very front of a garden bed. I also love this one as a houseplant. Its foliage is so beautiful that it looks really fussy, but it isn’t. As long as you remember to water it!

Wizard Scarlet

Wizard Scarlet
Identifiable by their red centers, wizard scarlet is a great low lying variety.

Height: 12” Spread: 12”

Wizard Scarlet has foliage with red centers and a limey green to sometimes golden yellow margin. It would look great placed underneath a taller red coleus (eg. Rediculous)in a container. This one, as with all the Wizard series, is a low lying variety that looks great as a filler plant in a container or the very front of a garden border.

Twist and Twirl

Twist and Twirl
The twist and twirl cultivar looks as if someone painted on the leaves.

Height: 3’ Spread: 14”

Twist and Twirl coleus is a work of art. It has deeply lobed leaves with splotches of red, gold, and green all over it. The different colors will appear boldest when placed in full sun. This variety can be used as the thriller in the pot, with other complimentary plants around it to highlight it’s foliage, or it can stand alone in a container. It also looks great in mixed garden borders. It is eye catching for sure.


Freckles Coleus
The freckles cultivar has a few different looks depending on the plant.

Height: 24” Spread: 12”

I’m not too sure how to describe freckles, it’s either a reddish orange leaf with specks of chartreuse, or perhaps it is a pure chartreuse leaf with freckles of reddish orange. Either way this coleus is striking. In more sun the reddish orange will be more pronounced, and in shadier conditions it will have more of the chartreuse color. This variety looks great in mixed containers, maybe play up the freckles by adding a yellow calibrachoa and/or a cordyline dracena.

Le Freak

Le Freak Coleus Variety
The Le Freak is most noticeable by the shape of its leaves.

Height: 12” Spread: 12”

The most notable feature about Le Freak coleus is not its leaf color. Which is a deep red color, with golden margins. It is the shape of these leaves that makes this one stand out. It’s leaf is trilobed, with the center lobe elongated and the other two shorter. They kind of look like shaggy maple leaves. This interesting texture can really be played up when it is planted next to something with larger, rounder leaves, like a hosta.

Chocolate Covered Cherry

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cultivar
The chocolate covered cherry cultivar has a magenta center area on each leaf.

Height: 14” Spread:12”

This is one of my favorite varieties of coleus! Its foliage has bright magenta interiors that melt to an irregular dark burgundy margin. It finishes with a very thin line of bright green around the edge.  If it receives less light, the green margin will become larger. This coleus looks great next to chartreuse plants, try it with lysimachia (creeping Jenny) and the pinks and line of green will really pop.


Watermelon Variety
The watermelon cultivar, looks just like it’s name would suggest.

Height: 24” Spread: 22”

Watermelon is a nice big bushy variety. It has the classic coleus coloring. That is bright magenta centers with burgundy that bleeds through the veins of its medium green border. Watermelon has smaller leaves and is very bushy and mounded. It makes a great filler in containers, or it can fill a container entirely. It also looks nice and lush in mass border plantings. More sun will make for more pink and burgundy and less green in the leaves.


Henna Coleus Cultivar
The henna cultivar is another unusual variety that has many different colors.

Height: 24” Spread: 18”

Henna is another striking variety that doesn’t necessarily scream “I’m a coleus” in the way, say, a Wizard coleus does. Henna features smaller leaves that have a jagged, almost spiky edge. It is similar to a shiso leaf. The leaves are a bright chartreuse color with pink tips that range from magenta to burgundy in color.

The underside of the leaf is pink/burgundy as well. The more sun this guy gets, the more pronounced the pink and burgundy will be. This coleus brings beautiful fall foliage into a summer garden, it’s beautiful! Plant with pink petunias or calibrachoa for to really make the pink of the coleus stand out.

Rustic Orange

Rustic Orange Coleus
The rustic orange is a very nice looking complimentary plant.

Height: 24” Spread: 12”

Rustic Orange is a classic variety. It has slightly pointed leaves and a nice rusty orange/red leaf with a sharp golden margin. I like mixing this variety with deep purple flowers, like Royal Velvet petunias. Or pair it with a beautiful purple fountain grass. It gives off autumn vibes in the summer.

Burgundy Wedding Train

Burgundy Wedding Train
The burgundy wedding train is a great option for planting in pots.

Height: 12” Spread: 30”

Burgundy Wedding Train is a low growing coleus that can act as a trailing plant in pots, or a creeping ground cover in the garden. It has small, wide, heart shaped leaves. They are burgundy on the inside with a medium green border. This one looks great creeping through a rock garden, or spilling out of a container. The heart leaves are very dainty and pretty.


Wasabi Variety
The Wasabi plant is easily identifiable by its bright green leaves.

Height: 30” Spread: 24”

The color of this coleus is, you guessed it, bright wasabi green. It is a beautiful solid bright green with really rough fringed leaves like a shiso leaf. The color of this coleus is perfect for brightening up shady areas in the garden. It’s big and tall and will attract attention. I love it next to a solid red coleus, like Rediculous. The bold solid colors really stand out, but then wasabi has this unexpected soft texture that goes with it.


FlameThrower Cultivar
The Flame Thrower is another easy to use cultivar.

Height: 24” Spread: 18”

FlameThrower coleus has very pointed leaves with burgundy interior and a lime green margin. The unique pointed, spiked foliage is what makes this variety so interesting. It looks great in a pot on it’s own, or in a mass border in the garden. Pair it with softer, rounder edged plants to really play up it’s sharp appearance.

China Rose

China Rose Cultivar
The China rose is extremely photogenic.

Height: 24” Spread: 24”

China Rose is a very popular variety of coleus. This is the one that is always flooding my Instagram Cultivar feed. For good reason, it is very photogenic. It has a serrated leaf that is burgundy with a very bright, fuschia pink center. This variety is often grown as a houseplant. To me it is the coleus I automatically think of when someone says coleus. It looks great in pots with chartreuse and green plants, and white flowers. It also looks great in garden beds to break up all the green.


Vino Cultivar
The vino cultivar is easily identifiable by its darker colored leaves.

Height: 24” Spread: 28”

The extra dark burgundy wine color of Vino’s foliage makes it exceptionally unique. It has slightly pointed leaves and a very fine green margin. The more sun Vino gets the darker its leaves will get and the smaller the green margin will be. Place this coleus next to a vibrant lime green colored plant, like a lime green ipomea, for a real eye catching contrast.

ColorBlaze Chocolate Drop

Chocolate Drop Cultivar
The chocolate drop variety looks similar to the burgundy wedding train.

Height: 18” Spread: 24”

Chocolate drop is similar to Burgundy Wedding Train, listed above. It has small heart shaped leaves, with a burgundy center and medium green borders. The burgundy center in Chocolate Drop bleeds through the veins of the plant and creates a lace pattern on the leaves. It’s very delicate and lovely. This is a lower growing, creeping variety of coleus that can be used as trailers in pots, or a low creeping border in beds.

ColorBlaze Pineapple Brandy

Pineapple Brandy Variety
Pineapple Brandy is also identifiable by its bright yellow color, and jagged edges on the leaves.

Height: 24” Spread: 16”

Pineapple Brandy has small pointed and deeply serrated or jagged leaves. The leaves are a vibrant pineapple yellow color, and then the stems and slightly along the margins are a reddish brandy color. Play up the slight reddish color in this one by placing it next to flowers of the same color, like a burgundy petunia.

Wizard Red Velvet

Wizard Red Velvet Coleus
The wizard red velvet is another red variety that’s very stunning, and low growing.

Height: 12” Spread: 12”

Wizard Red Velvet is another red coleus to consider. It is shorter than Big Red Judy and Rediculous and makes great low filler in a pot, or a low border in the front of a garden bed. Wizard red velvet has a very thin green margin around the perimeter of its red slightly pointed leaf. It adds a pop of color to the garden without flowers.

Big Red Judy

Big Red Judy
The Big Red Judy is another fantastic option that’s a garden staple.

Height: 36” Spread: 36”

How could I forget Big Red Judy? She is a garden staple, with large slightly pointed and serrated leaves and a bright red color. Some of the coleus on the list are hard to track down, but Big Red Judy is usually readily available at garden centers. The sharp red color provides great contrast with all sorts of other colors in pots and in the garden.

Additional Considerations

I hope this list inspires rather than overwhelms. These are just some of the possibilities when it comes to coleus. It’s also good to know that some of the coleus are fairly interchangeable if you can’t find an exact variety. Think about the feature of the coleus that you like, is it the color, leaf shape, height etc, and then narrow down your search from there. For instance Rediculous and Big Red Judy are both good choices for red foliage. 

Wizard rose and French Quarter have the same pink to green leaf pattern. Or if it’s the texture you’re more interested in, Wasabi and Henna have the same jagged leaf. Burgundy Wedding Train and ColorBlaze Chocolate Drop are both low growing varieties with small heart shaped leaves.

Another consideration when choosing a coleus is how you will be using it. Will it be the main feature in your pot? Then consider a larger variety that will be showy in a pot like Golden Dreams, or Fishnet Stockings. If you want a low growing variety to edge a garden bed, consider a variety from the Wizard series. If you are looking for a really unique variety to stand alone, consider Stained Glasswork Kiwi, or Freckles.

 Or, if you’re like me, go to the garden center and lose all your rational thinking and scoop up every variety and then worry about where you’re going to put them when you get home!

Final Thoughts

Coleus are a versatile, forgiving, and eye catching plant that should never be overlooked at a garden center, greenhouse, or seed shop. They are not deer attractors like hostas, and can do very well in the shade. Flowers come and go in a garden, so having interesting foliage throughout the season will keep your garden visually interesting at all times. Coleus is that foliage plant. Have fun, and play with all the varieties and create new and interesting combinations. I guarantee you will be able to find a coleus that you love and fits your space.

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