Coleus is a plant that comes in loads of fantastic vibrant colors. Hot pink, lime green, and neon yellow – they all exist. But what about that striking blue coleus you’ve seen online? In this article, I’ll dive into the fascinating world of blue leaves on plants.
Can coleus be blue?
The short answer: No, coleus cannot be blue.
But what about the Japanese Bonsai blue Coleus? I’m sorry, it’s fake.
Do you want to know how to make your coleus blue?
Here is how: You open Photoshop, find your favorite coleus photo and adjust the hue of the image. In a split second your green and pink coleus will turn blue.
My Photoshopped coleus image is not much different from the images you see from people selling blue coleus seeds on eBay, Amazon, etc. They do look rather fake, don’t they?
Why do I see blue coleus online but never in real life?
You know what they say … If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
The same thing goes for blue coleus – both plant and seeds. They simply do not exist.
Blue coleus seeds are sold everywhere
One of the best things that have come with social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, is the endless amount of inspiration you can get – for everything! You name the niche, and there’s a space for you and all the other like-minded people.
I personally get a lot of my inspiration for plants through Instagram, and recently bought a Stephania Erecta which I never would have discovered without social media.
The downside of social media and plant trends is that scammers want to sell you everything – even what isn’t real. Imagine the markup on fake seeds!
When you can only buy seeds, be warned
It only takes a few clicks via Google to see just how many people are trying to sell you blue coleus online. What you may also have noticed is how people are primarily selling blue coleus seeds, not plants.
As a plant hoarder, you’ll know … If there are seeds, there are plants, and if there’s an interest in a certain plant it will have dedicated shops growing, selling, and shipping them around the world. With blue coleus that is not the case.
Consider this a major red flag.
Are there any plants with blue leaves?
We’ve uncovered that blue coleus is not real, but what is perhaps even more interesting is to discuss why blue leaves more or less don’t exist.
Blue is such a prominent color in nature itself (the sky and the sea), but when it comes to plants it’s slightly different.
Let’s take a short look into the world of plant biology.
Why are there no blue leaves?
You may already know that plants get their colors from pigments. The green leaves are caused by chlorophyll, and red leaves are caused by anthocyanin. But is there a natural blue pigment that causes blue leaves?
The short answer is: plants that appear blue, do not contain any blue pigment in them. The reason being, that blue pigment doesn’t exist in plants.
There is no true blue pigment in plants, so plants don’t have a direct way of making a blue color…. Plants tweak, or modify, red anthocyanin pigments to make blue – David Lee, author of Nature’s Palette: The Science of Plant Color
This means, that when plants appear blue, it has to do with the physics of light.
Pigments appear the colour of the light they don’t absorb, but instead reflect. The most common plant pigment is green chlorophyll, so plants appear green because chlorophyll doesn’t absorb, but rather reflects, green light. Plants however like blue light as it has more energy than any other light in the visible spectrum. So, if you have blue leaves you are reflecting the highest energy light and relegating yourself to using only poorer quality light that ultimately limits your growth. Not a good strategy and so why most plants avoid it – University of Adelaide
Despite blue being a bad growth strategy for plants, there are examples of plants that are indeed blue. Examples of such are blue spruce conifer, hostas, grass, and agaves.
Conclusion: Blue is rare in plants, and blue coleus doesn’t exist
The blue plants are few and far between. As for coleus, we have yet to see anyone grow an actual plant with true blue leaves. Save yourself the frustration of buying blue coleus seeds online, and appreciate coleus for all the other wonderful colors it comes in.