Gardeners love their flowers but there may be times when just colorful foliage will do. Flowers often need dead heading to look nice. Also on decks and patios flowers can make a mess when they begin to decline.
Colorful foliage can be used just about anywhere you can grow flowers. One of our favorites is the coleus. They are sometimes called the clowns of the garden. They come in so many great colors and the plants can grow to different sizes.
Coleus are available for sun or shade. Perhaps you remember when they were just shade dwellers but now most of the Florida selections can take the full sun too. You might ask at the garden center just so you have the right variety for your location.
One you probably don't think of that much is the alternanthera also called Joseph's-coat. It comes in a number of colors and is a real hot, wet weather survivor. It can last through mild winters for year after year color. They grow in the sun or light shade.
What other flower substitutes can you think of? One of the all time favorites has to be the caladiums. They too have leaves of many colors and they love the heat and humidity. I really think they do best in the filtered sun but they are grown in shade to full sun.
Another is the crotons. This foliage pops up the color too. Most selections at garden centers appear to be the lower growing types but some can get over 6 feet tall.
Alternanthera, Coleus, caladiums and crotons all do well on the decks and patios. The few leaves that drop are easy to pick up and there is very little flower mess. Try some of these in the pool areas too.