10 Tips for Growing Coleus
Sunny or shady, you want your garden to be full of vibrant colors, and coleus plants deliver that impact! Coleus is one of those plants that can thrive in many conditions, so being familiar with how to grow coleus is smart. Read below for my 10 Tips for Growing Coleus, and see how easy it can be to enjoy this vibrant plant.
These tips on coleus plant care should help you achieve the best color and beautiful foliage from your coleus plants. How to care for coleus…
Choose Your Coleus Variety Wisely
You will find that coleus comes in dozens of varieties, all different colors, and even shapes. You can find it in red, green, white, pink, maroon, and more. There are various leaf shapes including rounded leaves, spiky varieties, and even vines that trail. Mix and match new varieties for a real pop of color and texture! Some coleus plants require more sun than others. Make sure you are choosing the correct coleus plant for the “job” ( gardening container plants, bedding plants, colorful borders, etc), and the sun conditions. You want bright colors on your coleus leaves. The right growing conditions will promote this.
Use Nutrient Rich Soil to Grow Coleus
Mix a little organic matter into your soil before planting so it is nutrient-rich. Your coleus will last well into the fall months if you give it soil that feeds it instead of limiting it. Basic potting soil mixed with some organic matter like eggshells or compost is ideal. You might also want to add a balanced fertilizer that you have purchased from your local nursery or garden center.
Be Wise About Coleus Planting Depths
Coleus has shallow roots, so you can get away with smaller pots, but you still want to make sure those roots have room to grow and latch – in other words, do not overcrowd your coleus plants when planting in the ground. You should plant coleus about 3 inches deep, which is typically the length of the root mass plus one inch. If you plant several coleuses in the same container you may need a larger pot. Remember that your pots should have drainage holes to prevent excess water from sitting and damaging your plants.
Skip the Seeds
Yes, you can grow coleus from coleus seeds, but you will enjoy coleus sooner and longer if you plant from seedlings. They are inexpensive to buy, about $10 per 30+ plant flat, making each seedling just a few cents per piece. They can be found at just about any home and gardening center.
My grandmother used to take coleus cuttings of her existing coleus plants and place them in a glass of water. She would sit the stem cuttings on the kitchen window shelf (which was part shade, part sun) and allow them to root, at which time she would transplant them into pots for a house plant, or in the ground as new plants.
Sunny or Shady Side
Coleus will do well even if they only see a few hours of sun per day. Basic coleus varieties will do better if they get a good 4-5 hours of full sun per day. Direct sunlight allows for more vibrant colors, but coleus is thought of as a shady spot plant, so try not to expose it to all-day, harsh sunlight. Partial shade is best for most types of coleus plants, although not all. Many plants will grow in full shade, however, the colorful foliage may be diminished.
A Good Watering Helps
Try to give your coleus about 2 inches of water per week, allowing the soil to dry out in between waterings. They don’t like soggy soil and may root rot if you allow them to sit in too much water. Instead, push for 2-3 waterings a week of ½ an inch to an inch of water each. Make sure you give your plants enough water without overwatering them.
Coleus are Low Maintenance
Except for the early going most coleus are virtually maintenance-free. When young, pinch back the growing tips of a young coleus plant. Regular pruning encourages branching and a bushy plant.
Look for deer-resistant coleus at your local garden center. While not being as attractive to deer, the leaves will attract butterflies!! It can grow in garden beds and houseplant containers.
Keep an Eye on the Cold
Even though coleus is durable, it cannot withstand the cold. If your area is experiencing frost or low nighttime temps, cover your plants or bring them inside at first danger of frost. When the fall months hit, your plants will die unless you bring them indoors.
Remember that Coleus is an Annual
While coleus is an annual plant if you grow them in container pots and bring them into your nice warm home over the winter months when cold temperatures arrive – caring for them correctly (some bright light and weekly watering) – they should be healthy enough to give you another season! As a bonus, you will have some lovely indoor plants for that time; inexpensive house plants for the winter!
The Coleus is one of the easiest plants to grow and perfect for people who are beginning gardening, or who have less than a green thumb. In other words, you do not have to be an experienced gardener to grow coleus – although many experienced gardeners DO grow coleus! It is easy to grow and requires little maintenance. Whether you grow them in the ground or in containers, they provide a beautiful spot of color to enhance your gardening plants and flowers.
Are you interested in more plants? You’ll want to read these posts:
● 75 Acid Loving Plants – If you have acidic soil, you need plants that flourish within an acid soil environment. Flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and trees all have specific soil needs; these 75 acid-loving plants are great choices for your gardening and landscaping needs.
● 75 Alkaline Friendly Plants – If you have alkaline soil, you need plants that flourish within an alkaline soil environment. Flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and trees all have specific soil needs; these 75 Alkaline Friendly Plants are great choices for your gardening and landscaping needs.
● 10 Best Low Light Houseplants – If you have a darker room without a lot of natural sunlight, do not despair – you can still grow houseplants indoors! Here is a list of the 10 Best Low Light Houseplants to grow inside. You may be surprised to find so many great options when it comes to growing indoor plants in low-light conditions.
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Lisa Zagha says
thank you for your info on coleus.I love them and want to have them on my balcony but they keep contracting mealy bugs.if i dont catch in time and dab w an alcohol swab,then they get infested.
Have you tried neem oil, rubbing alcohol (70% – but test in one spot to make sure you don’t burn your plant – dilute with some water to be safe) or an insecticide?
Lisa Zagha says
I just bought neem oil and sprayed it on the new Coleus plants I bought.I have always planted them in pots.I haven’t put them in the ground because I was concerned about snails etc.I am putting used coffee grinds in my pots and in beds and have noticed snails-b-gone!What do u suggest about planting Coleus in the ground?
Snails? What area do you live in?
Lisa Z says
Palos verdes peninsula
Sa’idah bt Othman says
Hi Ann..I just start gardening and my first plant are coleus plant. I love to see the colourful leaves but unfortunately after a week some parts of the leaves seem to be ‘burnt’ and dropped one by one. I am still trying to get it back to normal by putting some fertilizer but it doesn’t work😔
Can u give me tips or advise to solve this problems before I lost hope😢
I too have this problem. Have you figured out a solution?
I plant flowers in pots in front of my house but they get the sun in the morning and afternoon and even some late afternoon. What kind of flowers can I put in my pots that can withstand the sun. I live in Washington Co. Md.
You mentioned rooting in a glass of water. I take a cutting, remove two sets of lower leaves from that, and just put it in soil. Keep soil moist for about a week or so. I have only had ONE not root. Plus, pruning your original plant makes is bushier. Just try it. I love coleus~~~