Coleus Care: How to Grow Colorful Coleus Plant (Extensive Guide)

Coleus plants, commonly known as potted houseplants for their lovely leaves that brighten up gardens and cheer up rooms. If they get enough light and moisture, all types of coleus are easy to care for. Yellow, purple, lime green, dark red, and bright pink are just a few of the colors of their leaves. The combinations of bright colors in some variegated types are stunning.

Coleus plant care: Coleus houseplants thrive in pots with a well-draining potting mixture and require bright, indirect sunlight. To keep humidity high and the soil just damp, water is applied to it. Keep them between 65°F and 75°F (24°C and 27°C) and keep them safe from frost. To encourage bushy growth, apply fertilizer to the potting soil weekly.

The same care instructions apply if you’re growing coleus plants outside, either in the garden or in containers. Make sure that the soil is always moist and never too damp or soggy when planting the coleus in bright locations with partial shade. Growing coleus plants in pots outdoors enables you to bring them indoors in the winter because they need warm weather.

A coleus plant in a big container may grow to be three feet (0.9 meters) tall if given the right care. Regular pruning may help you keep your grass short while also encouraging a fuller, bushy look. Coleus can be maintained as an indoor houseplant or as a colorful border plant, and this article will show you how to do it. You’ll learn about some of the stunning coleus plants that you may grow at home at the conclusion of the article.

Is Coleus a Perennial or Annual?

Evergreen perennials include Coleus plants (genuses Plectranthus and Solenostemon). If you reside in USDA zones 10 or 11, Coleus is a tropical plant that will return year after year. Coleus plants, on the other hand, are classified as tender perennials and are frost-tolerant.

As a result, annuals or tropical evergreen houseplants in pots are commonly used to grow coleus in yards. Coleus plants flourish in containers when exposed to the elements during the summer and then brought indoors during the autumn and winter.

Coleus Plant Care Overview

Coleus plants are also referred to as Painted Nettle and are simple to keep up with. When grown in pots and exposed to a bright environment, the evergreen decorative plant thrives. You’ll need to boost humidity in order to resemble their natural habitat, so keep the soil damp.

Growing Coleus Plant Indoors

Let’s take a closer look at how to grow coleus plants in optimum conditions indoors.

Coleus Care: Light Requirements

Coleus plants thrive in bright, indirect light indoors, as seen in the photo. If they receive shade in the afternoon, they can tolerate direct sunlight in the morning. Usually, sufficient light is provided by placing a potted coleus plant on a west-facing windowsill. If you put it near a south- or east-facing window, make sure it gets enough shade.

They can be picky when it comes to sunlight, but growing a coleus plant indoors is simple. Scorched leaves occur when there is too much direct sunlight. The bright red, orange, purple, or pink leaves tend to fade in the sun as well. Move the container to a less sunny location if the leaves start to lose their color.

Your coleus plants won’t like too much shade, either. Stems may wilt and leaves may fall off due to a lack of sunlight, such as on gloomy winter days. Move to a brighter location or use artificial light to help revive a wilting coleus plant.

Best Temperature for Coleus Plants

All coleus kinds thrive in average room temperatures, being tropical perennial plants. Between 65°F and 75°F (24°C and 27°C) is ideal for Coleus plants. avoid sudden temperature fluctuations and protect them from frost, which is the best care tip.

Make sure your tropical plants are not exposed to a chilly draft. Near an open window, air conditioning vent, or drafty door are all unsuitable locations. For your plant, direct heat isn’t ideal. As a result, avoid placing radiators, stoves, and other heat sources in your houseplants.

If the plant is shielded from direct sunlight, a bright windowsill may suffice. The cold from a window at night, on the other hand, might damage your plant during the winter.

Coleus Humidity Needs

Coleus plants, like most tropical plants, need high humidity levels to thrive. For moisture-loving coleus plants, the average household isn’t humid enough. Sitting the pot on a pebble tray or using an air humidifier is the best way to maintain proper humidity levels.

Put a layer of pebbles in a dish and pour enough water to halfway cover the stones in a pebble tray. Make sure the pot doesn’t touch the water while placing the coleus container on the pebbles. Humidity for your coleus to thrive is bolstered by evaporation from the water.

A few plant pots grouped together may also increase humidity, in addition to employing a room humidifier. Cropy leaves with brown tips indicate that the air in your coleus is too dry. You should avoid spritzing your coleus leaves, unlike other tropical houseplants that require daily misting. Water may leave stains on the plant’s surface that ruin its look.

Best Soil for Coleus Plants

These coleus plants have vibrant red, purple, and green leaves that are a focal point in any home or garden. Peat moss, perlite, or pine bark should be mixed in the best kind of soil. This kind of potting soil has just the right balance of wetness and firmness.

When planting coleus in your yard, follow the same watering guidelines: make sure that water drains quickly from the soil. A commercial, all-around potting blend will suffice when choosing proper soil for your container. Succulents, for example, may require too acidic or fertile soil. When it comes to container soil, the most important piece of advice is to ensure it drains well.

Watering Your Coleus Plant

To avoid soggy soil, Coleus plant care requires moist soil but not too much watering. Water whenever the top 1″ (2.5 cm) of the potting mix is dry throughout the growing season, which runs April to September. Air temperature, the kind of pot, and plant growth determine when you need to water your plant. Coleus must still be watered during the winter, although less often. Only water when the top section of the soil has dried out, according to general practice.

Water should be at room temperature when it’s used to water coleus. Fill the pot enough to drain through the bottom with water. You should return the container to its saucer only when the water has stopped dripping. To avoid diseases like root rot and fungus or bacterial problems in the earth, proper watering is required. When it comes to watering your coleus plant, here are two top tips:

  • Let the water sit for a few days before using it. This enables chlorine to escape and protects your delicate tropical plant from being damaged.
  • Permanent water spots may be left on the foliage if you splash water on it.

Fertilizer Needs

During the growing season, fertilize coleus plants every one to two weeks with diluted, half-strength all-purpose houseplant fertilizer. Your plant’s vibrant foliage stays healthy and beautiful when you feed it the right nutrients. During the winter, don’t fertilize your plants since they are dormant.

The pink, red, yellow, or orange leaves of coleus plants are what most people grow them for. A weak fertilizer high in nitrogen and low in phosphorus is recommended to encourage vibrant colors. Since they promote blooming, unbalanced fertilizers steal nutrients from the plant. To find out why you want to keep your coleus from blossoming, continue reading.

Coleus Plant Flowers

Coleus blooms that resemble tiny white or purple flowers are pictured in the photograph. They have tiny clusters of white or purple blooms on flowering stalks. Only potted Coleus plants bloom indoors, and they only bloom when the conditions are ideal.

Indoor coleus houseplants bloom and then die as they go to seed. Pinch off the flower buds as soon as you see them start to develop. Keep going until no more buds develop. One way to help your coleus plant live longer indoors is to pinch off flowers.

Pruning Coleus Plants

To encourage bushy growth and prevent your plant stems from becoming leggy, trim your coleus plant on a regular basis. Prune your plant in the spring and summer, although coleus may be pruned at any time of year. Just above the leaf nodes, pinch or snip the stems with your fingers. Other tropical houseplants, such as polka dots and nerve plants, are similar to Coleus plants. Bushy development and a healthier plant are aided by vigorous pruning.

How to Propagate a Coleus

You’ll get a stem 3″ to 4″ (7.5 – 10 cm) long by cutting a stem just below the leaf node. The stem should have at least three leaves. Cutting a stem in water allows you to root it. Leave your propagation stems in a jar of water for around 1 inch (2.5 cm) to grow roots.

Transfer the rooted coleus stems to a tiny container with a well-draining potting mixture. By placing the end of the cut stem in rooting hormone and then planting directly in the soil, you may also have success propagating coleus.


When your coleus plant becomes rootbound and outgrows its present pot, it’s a good idea to repot it in the spring. Coleus should be repotted in the spring, when they are growing vigorously. Choose a pot that is 1 inch to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) bigger than the existing container and has plenty of drainage holes. Repot in a comparable-sized pot if you don’t want your plant to expand. Coleus repotting is simple and straightforward. Repotting your tropical houseplant is done like this:

  • Remove the coleus from its pot and remove any excess soil.
  • Untangle the roots if necessary, and inspect for indications of root rot or damage. Prune as required.
  • Up to half of the new container must be filled with an appropriate potting mixture.
  • Plant your healthy coleus at the same height as before and transfer it over.
  • Water thoroughly after topping off the pot with potting mix and pressing the soil around the stems.
  • Keep it away from direct sunlight in a well-lighted area.

Growing Coleus Plant Outdoors

Coleus plants grow in yards and gardens as annuals in temperate climates. Planting coleus in the springtime when there is no danger of frost is the finest time to do it. Pick a spot in your yard that gets some afternoon sunlight but is shaded for part of the day. Make sure that water runs away from the growing region.

If you want to succeed growing coleus plants outside, the soil temperature should be at least 60°F (15°C). If you can’t find a dark-leafed variety of coleus that offers dappled afternoon shade, choose one with white leaves. Plants with dark red, deep purple, maroon, and burgundy leaves are better able to tolerate sun than lighter-colored leaves. In order for your coleus to grow into a magnificent colorful shrubby plant in your garden, regular pruning is required.

Do coleus like sun or shade?

Coleus plants are renowned for their ability to thrive in the shade and require only a few hours of sunlight. Newer coleus cultivars, on the other hand, are more sun tolerant. From the ‘Wizard,’ ‘Versa,’ or ‘Marquee’ cultivars, choose a coleus plant for full sun. Remember that coleus doesn’t like being in the shade for long periods of time. Plant coleus in your yard wherever it gets morning sunlight for a few hours and dappled shade for the remainder of the day.

Are Coleus Plants Toxic?

Coleus is poisonous to cats, dogs, and horses, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). As a result, keep your coleus plants at home or in the yard safe for your pets. Coleus is a non-poisonous plant, according to the National Capital Poison Center. When handling a plant, people with sensitive skin might suffer skin irritation.

Coleus Plant Care: Common Diseases and Pests

To avoid root rot, make sure you water your coleus plant correctly. Moisture issues can arise when coleus plants need high humidity. Over-watering is the most prevalent disease that afflicts these tropical plants. Roots of the plant will begin to rot and die if they sit in wet, mushy soil. The plant will eventually become yellow, withered, and die.

Downy mildew, a fungal disease that affects leaves, is also prevented by watering at the soil level. Cut off curling or turning gray leaves with sterile scissors if you notice them. Similarly, cut off afflicted sections of the plant if you observe a white powdery coating—a symptom of powdery mildew.

Aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs are the most common pests that affect coleus plants. To get rid of houseplant pests without using chemicals, try using an organic neem oil solution as a natural insecticide.

Common Problems When Growing Coleus Plants

When caring for coleus plants, the most common issues are sunlight or moisture. Mildew, dry air, in too low humidity, or insufficient watering are the most common causes of curled leaves. Over-watering or under-watering can both cause yellowing leaves to droop. Leaf problems can occur when plants are burnt by direct sunlight, particularly those with lighter-colored leaves.

Coleus Plant Varieties

Let’s take a look at some of the greatest and most attractive coleus plant types available.

Campfire Coleus (Plectranthus ‘Campfire’)

This sun and shade-loving plant has warm reddish-orange leaves. Contrast with lighter plants and grow in containers indoors. Use for a dramatic effect in your garden.

Lime Time Coleus (Plectranthus ‘Lime Time’)

The bright green leaves of this coleus cultivar brighten up your yard’s shady areas. This grows as a houseplant with the right pruning and can reach a height of 36 inches (90 cm).

MainStreet Broadway Coleus (Plectranthus ‘MainStreet Broadway’)

This coleus is an attention-getter in your garden due to its large purple leaves with lime-green edgings. This cultivar is sun-tolerant and can grow in partial shade. It’s great for making colorful garden borders, decorate container gardens, or indoor pots and grows up to 18″ (45 cm) tall.

Redhead Coleus (Plectranthus ‘Redhead’)

This huge shrubby tropical species thrives in bright areas and has ruby-purple leaves. Grow as a tiny colorful houseplant or use to add dramatic hues to garden landscapes.

Trusty Rusty Coleus (Plectranthus ‘Trusty Rusty’)

With its copper red and yellow variegated leaves, it’s one of the most brilliant coleus cultivars. The shade-loving coleus will brighten up your yard or container by growing up to 18 inches (45 cm) tall.

Leave a Comment