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 Colorful Leaves Provide Contrast

On all of our landscape beds we need a color contrast. We need something dark to contrast against the light and bright colors to make them both “pop.” Both of these plants here form excellent contrast, particularly, this Maple Sugar annual Hibiscus. It does freeze out every year, but this is just one year’s growth on a couple of plants. It’s has a beautiful red color and does well in full sun.   With the cooler night temperatures in August and September it becomes an even darker red. It has nice lacy foliage that grows tall, and it thrives here in Kansas.
Next, we have a plant with a purple leaf. The old-fashioned common name is Moses in a Boat. It has a boat-shaped leaf with a small pink flower. It holds up well in the Kansas summer, and it takes the wind very well. So, it provides a different color and texture, and it’s a medium height. 
There are lots of choices available in colorful foliage to complement fancy flowers. You could go with all colorful foliage in your flowerbed. Or, more commonly, you may want to mix the two. It doesn’t have to be all flowers, or all colorful foliage. 
In the shade you’ll often find coleus and hostas. It’s important to remember that today we have coleus that will grow well in the sun or in the shade. A good example of that is the Redhead Coleus. It’s a bright, dark red plant. We have an example of these tall plants located in the shade. In the sun, they’ll be shorter. But it will be a more intense color in the bright sun. So, you have choices of sun or shade with this type of coleus, and a high leaf color.
This feature story prepared with Alan Stevens, Kansas State University Research and Extension State Leader, Horticulture. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.