I’ve been a huge fan of Sun-Loving Coleus, Sun-Loving Caladiums, and especially Copper Plants – three plants that can work well in our summer heat and provide an amazing pallet of color without the need for flowers.
Before you say, “But Randy, Coleus and Caladiums are just for shade”, do a quick search for the sun-loving versions of these great landscape plants. After that, if I still don’t have you convinced, Copper Plants have long provided that kind of vibrant summer color in beds, and in the full sun, without the benefit of flowers.
There are lots of ways to describe Copper Plants – from dark, coppery-red foliage to a variegation of coppers, reds, maroons, golds, pastel-pink, greens, and cream-colored combinations. I admit that Copper Plant’s beautifully colored foliage lends itself to tropical landscapes while its heat and sun tolerance make it suitable for even some of the most difficult areas so long as its basic requirements are met.
It’s so versatile. You can use summer-lovin’ Coppers as a small shrub, a container plant or in small color pockets. They are incredibly low-maintenance plants that will provide that color all the way until our first freeze and, in some southern regions that experience no freezes, can be treated as a year-round plant. Foliage color is often most intense where they get at least 6 hours of direct sun per day.
As noted, these plants are tropical by nature and not strong, robust shrubs, so they do tend to get beat up by consistent winds, which is why mine are always planted in areas sheltered from the winds. They are fast growers, and for me, since I love them in containers, I find myself trimming them back every month, so they don’t get leggy. They’ll feed on just about anything, but I’ve been a proponent of the slow-release blooming plant foods like Nelson’s Color Star or Nitro Phos Color-Xpress, maybe two times over 5-6 months. If you are fortunate enough to have them carry over through a winter, then please give Copper Plants a hard pruning in spring (late March or early April) for bushier growth and to keep it the size you want. Keep a regular watering schedule for these shrubs. If they stay too dry for too long they won’t look their best and the resulting stress can invite pests.