4 Plants with Colorful Leaves for Pots

My Garden Life
May 19, 2021
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Tropical plants often have more impressive flower displays than temperate species, but they are equally apt to have exotically colored leaves. With so many shades to choose from, you can use plants like the colors on a painter’s palette, creating vibrant brush strokes across the canvas of the landscape. Even in a modest container garden, it’s possible to use tropical color strategically to create an alluring composition.

1. Caladium Plants Add a Splash of Color

Close up photos of three different colored caladium plants

Caladium is the queen of colored leaves. Though caladium colors are limited to pink, red, white and green, most varieties have two or more color tones splashing across their enormous arrowhead-shaped leaves. The patterned coloration radiates symmetrically from the vein pattern of the leaves, looking as though someone poured layer after layer of paint on each leaf and let it dribble out into artistically designed splotches. The white-leaved caladiums are particularly enchanting, creating a soothing scene in a potted shade garden that few other plants can match.

2. Cordyline Have Long Colorful Leaves

Close up photos of three different species of cordyline plants

Cordyline is similarly colorful, but has long, strap-shaped leaves. Most varieties eventually form a short trunk, leading to a unique potted specimen that resembles a small palm with colored fronds. Shades of deep red, from burgundy to nearly black, are most abundant in the cordyline tribe, but there are also bluish green tones to be found, as well as pinks, yellows and oranges that give the appearance of a tropical sunset.

3. Brightly Colored Croton Leaves Will Wow

Close up photo of lush, colorful croton plant foliage

Croton is another option in this dreamy collection of color-saturated tropical plants. It is a woody shrub with large, lobe-shaped leaves that come speckled in shades of orange, green, cream, yellow, red, pink and purple. Some varieties have a hodgepodge of these colors together on each leaf, which provides lots of visual interest. Alternatively, there are many croton from which to choose that will incorporate two or three tones in a simple, soothing dose of color for your potted paradise.

4. Coleus Leaves Come in Lots of Colors and Shapes

Beautiful rectangular planter with different colors of coleus plants accented by trailing licorice plant and creeping Jenny

Coleus is a long-standing favorite when it comes to plants with colorful leaves. The multitude of variations in foliage hues and patterns allows for endless design possibilities. Their decorative potential goes next-level with hybrid varieties that are not only colorful, but have new features such as deeply cut foliage or frilly leaf edges. Coleus have all the colorful beauty of flowers without the bother of blooms!

Growing plants in containers is the perfect solution for small spaces or if you’re looking to add a pop of color to a large deck, patio, or border planting. Find out All About Container Gardening in our collection of articles filled with tips, inspiration and problem-solving solutions.

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