Trusty Chartreuse? Unpredicatable Rusty? Color shifting in the garden

In late June, I visited Sunrise Greenhouses in Grant Park, IL and purchased a few varieties of coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) to fill a whiskey barrel container in my shade garden. Sunrise had a great collection of coleus, and I ended up coming home with ‘Black Cherry’, ‘Pat Martin’, ‘Redhead’, ‘Alabama’, ‘Henna’ and ‘Trusty Rusty’. I planted them all together with a couple of red begonias and a Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus coleoides).

The container has done quite well at the western edge of the shade garden, where it gets a few hours of late afternoon and evening sun and serves as a transition between the shade plants and a bed of daylilies.

But I’ve noticed that all of the coleus seem to be shifting their color from a dominant burgundy (which they all were when I purchased them), to more of a chartreuse green color. The variety that has shown the greatest shift in color is ‘Trusty Rusty’.

In late June, ‘Trusty Rusty’ was predominantly burgundy-colored, with some chartruese edging. The Ball Horticulture specs on this plant show the green edging as a slight fringe on the outer edge.

By mid-August, ‘Trusty Rusty’ has shifted to a dominantly chartreuse plant with burgundy veining. It is still a beautiful variety of coleus and I plan to use it in my garden in the future, but I’m curious to why it’s shown such a dramatic color shift. Ball lists the plant as sun or shade, so I can’t tell if it’s getting too much or too little sun to retain the burgundy dominance. Perhaps the shift is a desired characteristic that’s not listed in the spec sheets.

Either way, ‘Trusty Rusty’ is a great performer in the garden. I’m just wondering if it should have been named ‘Trusty Chartreuse’ or ‘Unpredictable Rusty’.

One thought on “Trusty Chartreuse? Unpredicatable Rusty? Color shifting in the garden

  1. It's apparently everything a coleus is exposed to that colors it up one way or another. Moisture over the season has as much to do with color development as light or shade… and like my silvering hair tint, it just gets better and better with age! I actually like yours with more chartreuse in it than rusty color — very nice.


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