Flowers come in every color of the rainbow, but plants not so much. Most plants are green, green as grass, emerald green, light green, yellow green. If you’re looking for something outside the ordinary green, track down crimson plants. Whether you’re looking for trees, bushes or just a pop of red for this season from annuals, there’s a red plant just right for you.
Annuals with Red Leaves
Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) comes in an assortment of colors including red, pink, yellow, purple gold and cream. Most varieties are splashed with another color but solid red coleus is available. The plant prefers the shade in hot weather. It has insignificant flowers. Red chard (Beta vulgaris) “Ruby Red” has bright red stems and veins contrasting with dark green leaves. The plant, although decorative, is edible and retains its red color when cooked. Lactuca sativa “Merlot” is a lettuce with bright red leaves towards the center. It prefers cooler weather. Cockscomb Celosia plumsoa) China Town” has bright red plumes of flowers on top of dark crimson leaves and stems. Ornamental kale comes in a variety of colors including red rosettes surrounded by green leaves.
Grass with Red Leaves
Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrical “rubra”) grows as a perennial in USDA zones 5 through 11. The grass has green sprouts with flaming red tops, giving the entire plant a bright red appearance. Fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) “Fireworks” is hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11 with burgundy veins and bright pink stripes on either side of the veins giving the plant a brilliant crimson color. Switch grass (Anicum virgatum) “Ruby Ribbons” grows to 6 feet high in clumps in either sun or partial shade in USDA zones 3 through 11.
Trees with Red Leaves
Japanese Maple (Acer Palmatum) “Ever Red” is a dwarf growing only to 10 feet tall with weeping branches. It retains its red color all year until winter when the leaves drop. It prefers USDA zones 5 through 8. (ref1) Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) “Forest Pansy” is hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8. It grows 20 to 30 feet high and spreads 25 to 35 feet.
Perennials with Red Leaves
New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax) “Amazing Red,” is a tender perennial in USDA zones 8 through 11. The plant grows in clumps 2 feet wide and tall. Geranium (Pelargonium) “Golden Ears” has gold-edged red leaves. It’s a tender perennial in USDA zones 10 through 11. Canna (Canna) “Tropicana” has leaves from 18 to 24 inches long and 12 inches wide streaked with crimson. The 5 to 6 foot tall plants are topped with brightly colored flowers in USDA Zones. Caladiums prefer bright light in the shade. The leaves are bright red, pink, white and green and sometimes all four colors on the same leaf.
Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books. She loves to share her gardening tips. She cooks with the herbs and vegetables she grows in her garden.