How to Grow Coleus Plants

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About Growing Coleus

There’s much to like about Coleus plants, grown indoors and out. What attracts most of us to Coleus is not its flower, but the colorful leaves. They are good candidates for a shade garden. Coleus plants are very popular for container gardening and hanging baskets. They also look great planted directly in the garden in groups, as a bedding plant, or as borders. And they make great indoor houseplants, too. Indoors, Coleus houseplants require low light conditions, making them perfect for your home. 

Coleus plants are native to Africa, Asia, Australia east Indies, and the Philippines.

Did you Know? Coleus plants are members of the Mint family! There are over 3,500 members of this big, big plant family.

These tender annuals can be grown from seed or cuttings. They like sunshine but tolerate shade very well, making them a great indoor houseplant. They also need rich, soft soil that drains well.

Coleus plants medicinal value: They are sometimes used for weight control.

Botanical Name: Coleus

Plant Height: 12 – 36 inches tall.

Plant Hardiness Zone: 10 – 11

Flowers Bloom: Summer

Flower Colors: Multi-colored leaves in varying shades of Burgundy, green, orange, pink, purple, and red.

Coleus Plant Propagation

Coleus plants are grown from seeds or cuttings. Sow seeds by spreading them thinly. Cover seeds with 1/8″ of seed starting soil. Then, water lightly. Plants germinate and grow rapidly if the soil temperature is kept at 70 degrees or higher.

Growing Coleus from cuttings is also easy. If you like a neighbor or a friend’s Coleus plant, ask them if you can take a cutting or two. Select healthy, new growth. Place the cuttings in soft, rich soil. Keep the soil moist but not wet at all times. Covering them with glass or plastic will raise the humidity, and help them to root.

Days to Germination: 7 – 14

Coleus Care and Maintenance

Contrary to popular belief, Coleus plants thrive in full sunshine. They will tolerate partial shade, and to some degree, full shade. Leaf drop is common, if the plants do not get enough sunlight, and especially if they are moved from an area of full sun to shade, without an adjustment period.

Coleus likes loose and rich soil that drains well. Use plenty of peat moss and other loose medium whether growing in containers or directly in the garden. Add a general fertilizer regularly. If growing indoors, use a liquid fertilizer every one to two weeks.

If planting in your flowerbed, space plants one foot apart.

Coleus prefers well-drained soil. But, do not allow the soil to dry out. While many plants wilt and recover, these delicate plants can wilt and quickly die. Make sure that the container has holes in the bottom for drainage.

Keep Coleus plants trimmed. Remove spent blooms, and dead or dying leaves, and cut back any stems that are sick or unsightly. The plant will quickly produce more. Pruning will cause the plant to grow bushier.

Coleus is very tender annual, and is susceptible to even a light frost. If you are planning to bring them indoors, do so well before the first frost. In the spring, make sure to leave them indoors, until all danger of frost is past.

When bringing Coleus plants indoors, leaf drop is a common plant problem. It should be temporary, as the plant adjusts to lower light levels.  Find out How to avoid Leaf Drop.

Ideal Soil pH:  6.0 – 7.0

Plant Hardiness Zones: 10 – 11

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