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Grow and Care for Coleus: Tips to Give Your Plants a Good Start

If you are looking for a successful gardening project, Coleus plants are perfect. These colorful and flexible plants can be placed in any location to create a unique look that is sure to impress friends and family members. Read on for more information about how to grow and care for Coleus plants so they will thrive!

Origin and Common Names

Coleus is a genus of flowering plants in the family of Lamiaceae. Most are grown as annuals and many have colorful foliage patterns on their leaves, often resembling veins of leafless trees like palms or ferns.

This makes them popular among gardeners who want to add interest without having to trim back an actual tree every few months. The genus includes over 500 species and there are many different varieties to choose from.

Most Coleus plants were originally grown in China, but they’re now popular the world over for their decorative merits.

Hanging baskets full of brightly colored leaves can be found pretty much everywhere at this time of year because they make good indoor or outdoor houseplants that will beautify any space with little work on your part.

You just have to know how to grow them properly. This article contains some tips about what you need to do when caring for these colorful perennials so yours will thrive and bloom again next spring!

When to Water

Coleus plants generally require about ½ an inch of water per week in order for them to thrive and bloom properly. The best way to tell if they need watering is by checking that the soil surface feels dry, not just on top but also a few inches down as well.

If it does feel moist below then you can skip this time until next week or longer depending on how hot of weather we have been having lately!

Coleus is drought tolerant so should be watered sparingly throughout the summer months. In colder temperatures such as winter, most gardeners will want their coleus planted outdoors unless given protection from frost with a cold frame.


Coleus does best when grown in a location with the most light. If you can, provide it with plenty of natural sunlight or grow lights (they’re not expensive).


Place coleus inside a container filled with quality potting mix – preferably one infused with composted manure if possible; this will help keep them healthy and looking their very best! You may also want to fertilize every so often using an organic fertilizer like liquid seaweed too. Your plants will thank you!


Coleus can be grown indoors with a warm setting of 65°F (18.33 °C) or in an outdoor location that is not too hot – about 85-90°F (29.44-32.22°C). The ideal temperature for coleus to grow and look their best is 60-70°F (15.56-21.11°C)


Coleus plants are sensitive to high humidity, especially in summer. Place your potted Coleus on a gravel tray with water and then cover the pot or container to hold moisture inside.


Coleus needs to be repotted at least every two years. To do this, remove any old media from the pot and discard it. Add fresh soil mix to the new container at about twice the depth of what was in there before (or use a mix designed for Coleus) and press firmly around the roots while filling with water again. Allow all excess moisture to drain out then add more if necessary until it is damp but not wet or soggy.


Coleus plants need nutrient-rich soil. Unlike most perennials, they don’t like being root bound so it’s important to fertilize them at least once every three weeks.

They can be grown in pots or directly into the ground if you have a warm climate with plenty of sunshine and good drainage. When planting Coleus plants outside, dig a hole the size of the container and spread out your plant. Coleus plants need soil that is rich in organic material, which can be achieved by adding peat moss to your potting mix or planting them directly into compost-rich soil.


Coleus can grow in the garden or indoors. If you are growing your plants outside, we recommend pruning them periodically during the summer months to control their height.

If you’re caring for Coleus inside of a pot, then it is important to keep its roots moist and provide plenty of light (sunlight will help with this). Indoor plants should be watered daily if they don’t receive enough natural water from other sources like rain.


Coleus can be propagated by division, cuttings, or tissue culture. The division is the most common method of propagation because it’s inexpensive and doesn’t require special equipment like cutting or tissue culture to work. It’s also faster than other methods.

To divide coleus plants you must first select healthy-looking clumps from your collection that are at least six inches in diameter (or about as wide as they are tall).

Make sure there isn’t any disease present on or near the plant before digging them up with a sharp spade shovel—and make sure you have permission if this is someone else’s garden! Fill in where the clump was removed with more potting soil. Coleus will grow best when planted close together, as they do not have deep roots and therefore are more vulnerable to the drying effects of wind.

Growing Coleus Outdoors: Planting Your Seedlings

  • Dig holes about eight inches deep or until your shovel hits dirt if planting directly into the ground
  • Loosen up the hole with your hands by pushing down on one side of the hole while pulling out from underneath to loosen up any clumps of clay or stones at least six inches around
  • Fill each hole loosely with soil mix and put two seedlings (roots facing downward) in before patting down lightly again. Space plants about two feet apart
  • Add about an inch of water to the top layer before watering in well. The soil should be moist, but not too wet or muddy
  • Keep watered regularly and fertilize every other week with a teaspoon of fertilizer mixed into each gallon of water when watering your plants (think “drip irrigation”)
  • If planting outside on a porch or deck: you may want to use pots instead as they can slip off if it’s windy at all!

Varieties of Coleus

Coleus plants are a beautiful foliage plant that is used both as an indoors and outdoors, especially in hanging baskets. They come in many varieties including:

‘Inky Fingers’ and ‘Inky Toes’

Coleus ‘Inky Fingers’ and Coleus ‘Inky Toes” are both varieties of coleus plants that you can grow indoors or outdoors. These plants, with their dark green leaves edged in cream-colored fuzzy hairs, add a tropical look to your home even when it is cold outside.


Coleus ‘Wasabi’ plants are a delightful addition to any garden. They have been bred for their dark, glossy leaves and deep purplish-green color which is often used as the background color in bouquets that feature green flowers. The plant originated from Indonesia where it grows wild on coral reefs near salty water sources.

Florida Sun Rose

Coleus Florida Sun Rose Plant is a beautiful flower that can brighten up any garden. These plants are great for anyone who loves gardening and want to add color to their outdoor spaces. They also do not require much water or maintenance, so they are perfect if you don’t have the time to take care of them regularly.

Coleus Black Dragon

Coleus Black Dragon is a variety of Coleus that has dark, glossy foliage and deep black stems. It’s perfect for adding to any garden as it does not require much water or maintenance, so you will have plenty of time to care for your other plants!

Coleus Henna

Coleus Henna is a variety of coleus that has interesting orange-red foliage. The leaves are edged in black, with white speckles, and look like henna designs on the plant itself! It’s perfect for adding to any garden as it does not require much water or maintenance, so you will have plenty of time to care for your other plants!

Coleus Superfine Rainbow

Coleus Superfine Rainbow is a cultivar of Coleus plants that has leaves with beautiful, colorful variegation. The edges are dark green and the center range from light to bright yellow-green making it perfect for adding some color to your garden.


Coleus Kong is a variety of coleus that can grow up to three feet high. It has dark-green leaves with light green, purple and red bands making them look like dragon scales. They are great for adding flowering colors into your garden as they bloom in the summer months.


Coleus Campfire is a cultivar of Coleus plants with deep red foliage. The leaves have unusual white stripes, speckles, and veins making it perfect for adding to any garden as it does not require much water or maintenance, so you will have plenty of time to care for your other plants!

Coleus Watermelon

Coleus Watermelon is a variety of coleus that has deep green leaves with white stripes and spots. The edges are dark red giving them the appearance of watermelons! It’s perfect for adding to any garden as it does not require much water or maintenance, so you will have plenty of time to care for your other plants!


The coleus plants are easy to grow and can be grown indoors as well as outdoors, but they require less water than most other varieties of foliage plants. The different colors on the leaves are a great way to decorate your garden and add interest to your plants.

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