Here’s how colorful foliage plants can add surprising color and visual interest to your home and garden.
When you think of adding color to a garden or a collection of houseplants, flowering plants immediately come to mind. But colorful foliage plants can also be used to brighten indoor spaces and outdoor patios and gardens.
“There are thousands of species and varieties of houseplants and they don’t all have plain green leaves,” said Byron Martin, co-owner of Logee’s Plants for Home and Garden, a top online source for all kinds of tropical and fruiting plants. “In fact, many plants have colorful foliage that make them interesting additions to almost any setting.”
Here are some of Byron’s favorite colorful foliage plants that anyone can grow. All of these plants are available online from Logee’s.
Colorful Foliage Plants: Begonia ‘Autumn’s Delight’
Do you think of “a swirl of intense autumn colors” when you think of houseplants? Probably not. But that’s just what you get from the gorgeous foliage of Begonia ‘Autumn’s Delight.’ This begonia variety, available exclusively from Logee’s, explodes with fall color in shades of red, rust, light yellow and soft green veins.
The tight mounding form and sharply defined, starshaped leaves of Begonia ‘Autumn’s Delight’ (Begonia rhizomatous hybrid) make it a winner. This plant is at home on any windowsill or tight indoor growing space. It can be moved onto a porch or patio in the warmer months. Sprays of white flowers rise above the foliage in winter and add to its splendor. The leaf color varies seasonally with light intensity. In summer, the leaf colors are darker and richer. A plant in a 2.5-inch pot sells for $14.95.
Senecio ‘Angel Wings’: A Star Among Colorful Foliage Plants
Take one look at the leaves on a Senecio ‘Angel Wings’ plant and you know why it got that name. The leaves are the color of angel wings—or perhaps ghosts. The long, velvety leaves are a silver-white, and the leaf edges are scalloped and ruffled. What’s not to like about the way this small plant looks? (It grows to a very manageable 8-16 inches tall.)
Senecio ‘Angel Wings’ (Senecio candicans) is an easy to grow succulent that likes full sun. It is cold hardy to USDA Zone 8, so it makes a great outdoor plant in warmer climates. (Just remember to bring it indoors when the weather gets colder in cooler climates.) The light colored ‘Angel Wings’ leaves provide a stunning color contrast to the standard green foliage in most outdoor gardens. It also makes a delicate contrast in a container garden. Or, plant it as a focal point in a flower bed. Each awesome plant in a 2.5-inch pot sells for $16.95.
Tradescantia ‘Nanouk’ is a great houseplant choice for beginning gardeners and “plant parents” because it is easy to grow. ‘Nanouk’ (Tradescantia albiflora ‘Nanouk’) is a fast-growing, plant with attractive leaves in tones of pink, white, purple and green. The decorative striping gives the tops of the leaves and interesting appearance, while the undersides of the leaves are purple. During the spring and fall growing seasons, small, light-colored flowers emerge from purple buds on the plant.
Tradescantia ‘Nanouk’ is a handsome houseplant. The compact growth habit makes it a great choice for windowsills and countertops. Let the top of the soil to dry to the touch between waterings. ‘Nanouk’ is an easy-care plant that adds multicolored style to any setting. Don’t be afraid to give this plant as a gift! A plant in a 4-inch pot sells for $19.95.
Colocasia Royal Hawaiian® ‘Waikiki’ PPAF
The spectacular Colocasia ‘Waikiki’ (Colocasia esculenta hybrid) has massive tropical leaves that bring pizzazz to any indoor room or garden setting. The leaves emerge green, but as they grow a wide ivory-white central vein develops. Then, a purple dot appears in the center. The purple color expands into the veins as the leaves mature and creates a sensational foliage display in the garden.
Colocasia ‘Waikiki’ is the product of plant hybridizer Dr. John Cho, a retired Emeritus Plant Pathologist from the University of Hawaii. ‘Waikiki’ is part of the Royal Hawaiian® series of plants. ‘Waikiki’ is an attractive container plant that reaches 36-42” tall with deep purple stems and large leaves. Grow in wonderful plant in full to partial sun and moist soil. ‘Waikiki’ was chosen as the first-ever Colocasia winner in the All-America Plant Selections for 2023. A plant in a 4-inch pot sells for $24.95.
Colorful Foliage Plants: Purple Shamrock Plant
Bright purple is not a common foliage color in houseplants. That’s why the vibrant purple, triangle-shaped leaves make the Purple Shamrock Plant (Oxalis regnellii ‘Francis’) such a brilliant focal point in any room. The delicate pink blossoms also make this vigorous Oxalis a must-have for the container garden.
This plant grows best when it gets bright light—and perhaps some sun. (But it doesn’t like the blazing noontime sun.) In USDA zones 7-10, Purple Shamrock Plant is often grown as an attractive ground cover. A plant in a 4-inch pot sells for $16.95, and each plant in a 2.5-inch pot sells for $10.95.
Black ZZ Plant
You might already be familiar with the ZZ Plant because it’s one of the most indestructible houseplants. The Black ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia Oscura™) is a ZZ Plant on steroids.
This terrific houseplant has shiny, deep-black leaves that start out green and mature to black. It’s the perfect easy-care foliage plant for beginners. It’s also a great way to introduce a “goth” look to a container garden. The Black ZZ Plant is an extremely slow-growing plant, which can stay in the same pot for years. Each plant (in 4-inch pots) sells for $24.95.
If you want to add some flowering houseplants to your collection, read Best Flowering Houseplants.