The All-In-One Guide For Taking Care Of Coleus Plants

The All-In-One Guide For Taking Care Of Coleus Plants

Emma Downey

Emma Downey
Gardening Expert

Updated on 12/4/2022

Coleus Plants, which were first made famous as bedding plants during the Victorian era, have dramatically resented due to the magnificent leaf's year-round color, regardless of whether the plant is grown in full sun or shade. Plants of the genus Coleus have square stems, and their leaves are arranged in pairs straight across from one another. They produce modest blooms from blue to white and are frequently pruned to save energy. There is a large variety in the form, pattern, and coloring of the leaves, and new colors and designs are often added.

When started outside in the early spring, Coleus swiftly fills out its space and reaches its mature size in just one growing season. Large areas of mixed coleus plants in a landscape or garden bed take on the appearance of a quilt, and the vibrantly colored leaves give a beautiful touch to hanging baskets, window boxes, and outdoor container gardens. Outside, coleus plants only live for one year since they are often planted as annuals; however, coleus plants produced indoors can survive for several growing seasons. The coleus plant is harmful to pets. 

coleus plants

  • Common Name Coleus
  • Botanical Name Plectranthus scutellarioides
  • Family Lamiaceae
  • Herbaceous perennial is the type of plant (usually grown as an annual)
  • Size at Maturity: 6-36 inches Tall and Wide
  • Shade from partial to complete protection from the sun
  • Type of Soil Deep, dark, rich, and loamy, with good drainage
  • PH range of the soil: slightly acidic to neutral (6.0 to 7.0)
  • Seasonal Bloom During Bloom Time
  • The flower's color ranges from blue to white.
  • USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11; generally cultivated as an annual elsewhere
  • Asia, the Original Home
  • Toxicity
  • Animals can be harmed by it.

Coleus Care

coleus plants

In warmer climates, Coleus may be grown as garden perennials, where they can develop into tiny shrubs with thick, woody stems. Even though this delicate tropical plant thrives in warm temperatures, it can be grown as an annual in virtually any garden. In these gardens, it is typically utilized as an annual bedding plant or in pots. On the other hand, not all coleus plants can withstand the cold. Hold off on moving them outside into the garden until the temperatures will continue at or above 60 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period.


Although Coleus grows best in partial or complete shade, the amount of light exposure it receives depends on the type. The traditional seed-grown Coleus thrives best in partial to complete shade, whereas more recent cultivars, such as those in the Wizard series, do well even when exposed to direct sunlight. Most traditional coleus types can have their leaves charred and discolored if exposed to excessive sun. In hot areas, the optimal conditions for coleus growth are filtered early light followed by shade in the afternoon.

Plants cultivated inside containers receive enough light from indirect sunlight during the warmer (brighter) months. Still, during the winter, the plants may need to be exposed to sunlight that has been filtered. They don't require much, but there should be some light.



The ideal growing conditions for Coleus include rich, loose, and draining wet soil. Before you plant anything, you should modify the ground by adding compost or another organic material like perlite. Any potting mix of a high enough grade for plants that are kept in containers will do. Pick a container that is equipped with holes for drainage.

Coleus that are cultivated in containers thrives when the potting soil is loose. Start with a high-quality mixture with a pH ranging from slightly acidic to neutral, preferably between 6.0 and 7.0. The container must include drainage holes to prevent the soil from being permanently saturated, which might result in root rot.


The ideal growing conditions for coleus plants include continuously wet but not drenched soil. Plants subjected to extended periods of drought have slowed their growth, and the leaves begin to brown at the margins. Allow the ground to dry between waterings, and then water the plants only until the top inch of the soil feels completely dry to the touch. Mulch is a great way to keep the soil moist for longer, but you should avoid using cedar mulch around coleus plants since it might be poisonous. Also, ensure the mulch does not come into contact with the stems of the plants since this might encourage decay and conceal slugs.

Coleus planted in pots may require watering twice daily in sweltering conditions, and containers kept outside may need water twice a day. Indoor plants require watering only until the top inch of the soil feels completely dry to the touch.

Temperature As Well As Relative Humidity

Temperature As Well As Relative Humidity

Conditions that are hot and humid are ideal for the growth of Coleus. Even the slightest touch of frost is enough to destroy plants in locations considered to be temperate. When the temperature falls into the 50s, bring plants indoors or shield them from the cold in the evenings. Before the weather turns chilly, you should take cuttings to use for propagation.

Should keep Indoor plants away from the vents of the air conditioner and other chilly locations. If you live in a dry area, providing your plants with some humidity in the bathroom or using a humidifier will help them thrive. Before moving potting soil and plants from indoors to outdoors in the spring, be sure the temperature has reached at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


It may not be necessary to provide coleus plants with food if the soil in your garden is particularly fertile. Should apply A well-balanced fertilizer with a gradual release to the bed if the soil is poor. The leaves will produce the most vibrant colors if you use little fertilizer on your coleus plants.

Should apply A water-soluble fertilizer to the soil of container-grown plants once every month. Because regular washing drains nutrients from the potting soil, plants are grown in containers often require more food than plants grown in gardens.

Different Kinds Of Coleus

Different Kinds Of Coleus

There are hundreds of different coleus plants, each with its unique coloration, leaf texture, and pattern. Every year, new cultivars are created, but garden stores often stock just a limited selection of the most popular varieties. Shop numerous different sites to locate more exciting variations. The following are some categories to look out for:

  • The Wizard line consists of easy-to-grow, miniature plants that range in height from 12 to 14 inches and come in various color combinations. The Wizard line coleus cultivars, which belong to the Kong family, have enormous leaves measuring 6 inches in diameter and grow to heights of 2 feet. They are photosensitive.
  • "Black Dragon" is a unique cultivar that may extend to a height of 18 inches and has leaves that are a rich burgundy color with ruffled edges.
  • Premium Sun series: Premium Sun series cultivars have been developed to withstand prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. These tiny coleus types, which belong to the Fairway series, reach a height of only six to ten inches and come in a wide range of leaf colors and patterns.


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When the plants are about 6 inches tall, pinch out the growth tips to encourage the development of complete, bushy plants. If you want the plant to focus on producing leaves rather than flowers and seeds, pinch out the flower buds before they open.

Without regular pruning, plants become straggly and lose their form and thick foliage. Plants with a lot of limbs probably require more sun. It occurs most frequently with houseplants throughout the winter, so ensure to provide them with increased natural or artificial light if needed.

Propagating Coleus

Propagating Coleus

Taking cuttings from the stems of coleus plants allows for their propagation. How to do it:

  • Cut a stem tip between 4 and 6 inches long using sterile shearing scissors and a sharp blade. Position the cut, so it is directly beneath a leaf node along the stem. Take off all the leaves on the lowest portion of the cutting.
  • Should dip The rooting hormone mixture onto the cut end of the stem. Plant it in a wet potting mix, and the exposed leaf nodes should be covered by dirt.
  • Put the container inside a plastic bag, being careful that the bag does not come into contact with the cutting.
  • It will take two to three weeks for new roots to form if the cutting is kept in a bright and warm place while it is covered.
  • Please take off the plastic wrap and take the young plant to a sunny and warm spot to continue its growth.
  • It's possible that some of the more unique cultivars won't root well; in that case, you should be sure to take enough cuttings from them so that you end up with enough healthy plants.

Instructions For Germinating Coleus Seeds

Instructions For Germinating Coleus Seeds

You may still find seeds of many different types of Coleus, even though most of the modern coleus species in stores are hybrids that are virtually always produced from cuttings potted up for sale in nurseries. If you intend to plant the Coleus in an outdoor garden, you should start the seeds inside around eight to ten weeks before the last frost date in your area.

Growing Coleus from seed is a simple process, and the seeds may not germinate for up to 21 days after being planted. Once the seedlings appear, it will take three or four weeks of warm weather to help them mature into fully developed plants.

A tray filled with potting mix should be given a little sprinkling of the tiny seeds, and then should gently cover the tray with a sprinkling of soil.

It should take around two weeks for the seedlings to grow, during which time the tray should be covered with plastic and placed in a sunny, warm location.

Take off the plastic covering, and continue cultivating the seedlings while maintaining a wet soil environment.

When the seedlings have developed two sets of genuine leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into their pots and should continue their growth until it is time to plant them outside. Before you put seedlings in the garden, you should be sure to harden them off first.

Putting Coleus Plants In Pots And Repotting Them

Putting Coleus Plants In Pots And Repotting Them

To cultivate coleus plants in pots and containers, start with large banks into which the plants can expand. If you don't start with large jackpots, you'll have to report these rapidly growing plants very often.

Coleus is typically used as an erect "thriller" plant in the center of mixed container plantings. This plant is flanked by "fillers" and "spillers," which are plants that spread out across the surface of the container. For the winter, bring a coleus plant potted indoors if you live in a more excellent zone.

Pests And Diseases That Are Commonly Seen On Plants

Pests And Diseases That Are Commonly Seen On Plants

Coleus flowers are a favorite food of groundhogs and juvenile rabbits. Protect your plants at the beginning of the season to ward off any potential pests. Be on the lookout for slugs, mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies.

In most cases, infections do not pose a threat to Coleus, but if the weather becomes chilly and wet, you may see indications of fungal diseases such as mildew on your coleus plants. The plant does best with adequate drainage, as prolonged periods of stagnant water can cause fungal root and stem rot.

Frequently Asked Questions

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