ColorBlaze El Brighto Coleus will make its debut in 2022, and make no mistake about it, award-winning color scheme opportunities await as you select your flower partners. At the Young’s Plant Farm 2021 Garden Tour in Auburn, Alabama this summer it made a memorable impression on The Garden Guy.
The last 30 years I have fancied myself as a guru of color. I talk about color schemes to master gardeners and have put artist color wheels in the books I have written. This day at the garden tour I got supercharged again on the use of color and particularly incorporating Coleus.
This particular bed featured two new flowers for 2022: Ladybird Sunglow, a Calylophus hybrid selection of Texas primrose, and Luscious Citron lantana. That would have worked as a monochromatic planting, but the addition of Vermillionaire Cuphea and ColorBlaze El Brighto Coleus turned it into a dazzling analogous color scheme.
An analogous color scheme is designed with colors next to each other on a color wheel. It doesn’t have to be exact, but within close proximity. In this case the red-orange of both Vermillionaire Cuphea and ColorBlaze El Brighto Coleus was perfect. They offered more than that, however, in that the yellow tips of the Cuphea blossoms and the yellow gold margins of the Coleus echoed the colors of both the lantana and the primrose.
Just talking about this demonstrates how fun it can be to incorporate foliage plants like ColorBlaze Coleus into your flower and foliage partnerships. ColorBlaze has another new selection for 2022 called Nearly Noir. It is such a dark burgundy it really does look nearly black. By all means, don’t be shy on this one. ColorBlaze Nearly Noir will offer a total contrast in whichever color you combine it with.
When we have a total contrast, we typically refer to that as a complementary color scheme. Nearly Noir will enhance everything around it. In the planting above with El Brighto, Nearly Noir would also have been a great choice too.
The Garden Guy used Nearly Noir with Alocasia upright elephant ears and Luminary Opalescence phlox. While a great contrast with the phlox, you could tell there was a color relationship. If you had a paint chip card from the home improvement store that had Nearly Noir at one end, the color at the other end would be the pink of the Luminary Opalescence phlox.
CorlorBlaze Coleus varieties can work just like flowers in your color schemes, whether they be analogous, complementary, monochromatic or even slightly more challenging like a triadic harmony, three colors equally split on the artist color wheel.
Two of The Garden Guy’s favorite colors are fiery orange and lime green. So when the opportunity to grow Color Coded Orange You Awesome echinacea and ColorBlaze Lime Time Coleus together, I could not pass it up. The third partner in the combination was Dolce Wildberry Heuchera. It is still one of my favorites today.
Using ColorBlaze Coleus in your combination plantings offers one other game-changing trait: They will perform until frost. The perennials and annuals both will cycle in bloom throughout the long hot growing season, but the Coleus stays camera-ready.
Come spring, look for the ColorBlaze series and the new El Brighto, and Nearly Noir introductions. Regardless of what you choose, incorporate them into your color schemes and you’ll find your neighbors looking for advice.
Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.