Kong Series Summer Coleus

coleus_kong_scarletLet me show you something about Coleus: Here is the same plant, Coleus ‘Kong Scarlet’, grown in three different light situations—shade, partial sun and sun. It looks like we have three different Coleus varieties but we don’t; it’s all the same plant and its colors change based on the light it is grown under.

As the leaves get more sun, their colors will change and darken; in my opinion, this makes the plant dynamic, interesting and fun. As a kid, you would dip your Hot Wheels car into the water and it would change colors! We can have the same kind of fun as adults.

Coleus 'Kong Rose'

Many, but not all, Coleus behave this way. Coleus ‘Kong Rose’, for example, shows the same rose-red leaf color regardless of the sun or shade it is grown under. Choose this Coleus if you want uniform color, regardless of the exposure.

Color shifting isn’t the only interesting aspect of the Kong series of Coleus. It was originally bred for Ball Horticultural’s centennial a few years back, and it gets its name from its enormous leaf. Each leaf is easily as big as your palm, and probably twice as large as the next biggest Coleus you can buy.

Coleus 'Kong Scarlet' (Grown in Full Sun)

This big-and-bold attitude easily makes the Kong series one of our best-selling series of Coleus. It turns out the plant will respond to other growing cues as well. For example, we don’t use growth regulators on our Coleus because it tends to make the leaves smaller while keeping the plant compact. But why grow a small Kong? We like our plants big, bold and upright, so we tweak our protocols toward an impressive display.

Coleus 'Kong Scarlet' (Grown in Part Sun)

Coleus has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over the past few years. The new breeding has taken a boring handful of series and exploded them into hundreds of wild and crazy types of colors and forms—and we grow our fair share of those crazy candy types. Still, overwhelmingly the favorite is Kong for its sheer presence.

Coleus 'Kong Scarlet' (Grown in Part Sun & Shade)

Getting back to the light issue…it turns out that Coleus colors become more vibrant when they get more shade. This is very unusual behavior, and explains why Coleus is a popular choice for under-the-tree plantings and shade-of-the-building gardens. It is also carefree and forgiving. Kept in the shade or partial shade, it is hard to go wrong with this plant.