Coleus | 11 Care Tips You Need to Know

By Mira Sidak | Updated on Jun 12, 2023

Coleus | 11 Care Tips You Need to Know

Coleus is a member of the Lamiaceae family, also known as the mint family. This plant is native to Southeast Asia, but today they are cultivated in many different regions of the world. Coleus is famous for gorgeous foliage that comes in many colors, such as pink, yellow, green, maroon, red, and purple.

Coleus has tiny white or blue flowers which makes this plant even more beautiful. Commonly, people who cultivate coleus expect its leaves to add color to the room. The leaves have beautiful and unique styles, shapes, patterns, and colors.

Let's learn how to grow coleus for healthy and happy leaves.

Coleus Prefer Rich, Well-Drained Soil

Coleus grows well in loose, well-drained soil. If your soil is too hard, use peat or coconut fiber to soften it. Coleus thrives in slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH: 6.0 to 7.0).

Different Varieties Will Have Different Light Requirement

Various types of coleus need different amounts of sun. Some varieties like full shade (less than 4 hours of sun) or partial shade (between 3 and 6 hours of sun). But many new plants like the ColorBlaze series love the sun.

Let's look at various types of coleus and how much light they need daily.  

Note: Coleus leaves will look dull and faded if they get too much sunlight. Also, leaves can get burned by too much sun. If they don't get enough sunshine, the leaves will fall off.

Here are the coleus varieties and their sunlight requirements.

Wizard Rose

Wizard Rose gets 12 to 14 inches tall. This variety has leaves with bright pink or creamy white centers and a medium green border. This plant does best in the full shade.

Wizard Jade

Wizard Jade is a popular type that is grown inside. It has cream-colored leaves in the middle with sharp, medium-green edges that make it look beautiful. This type can grow well in places with full shade.

El Brighton

The leaves of El Brighton are long and sharp, and the tips are wavy. This variety is suitable for locations with partial shade.

Color Blaze Series

ColorBlaze series plants, such as golden dreams, ridiculous, wicked witch, royale cherry brandy, and pineapple brandy, are new types that do well in full sun. This is because, in full sunlight, the colors of these types will look more intense. 

Water Coleus Twice A Day

Coleus is a water-loving plant, and they grow best in soil that is consistently moist but not wet. So, you should water the plant regularly. However, if you're keeping it as a houseplant, you should only water it when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch (two or three days).

Don't let your coleus dry for a long time because it will slow the plant's growth, and the tips of the leaves will turn brown slowly. Drought will badly damage the beauty of the leaves. Even though coleus enjoy water, overwatering will cause many problems, such as root rot.

Coleus Enjoy Warm and Humid Environments

Coleus is a plant that grows in the tropics and is always warm. So coleus grows well when the temperature is above 64 degrees Fahrenheit. If it starts to get colder than 50 degrees, you should bring the plant inside.

Container-grown coleus exposed to cold weather will stop growing and look unhappy. Too cold weather will make the leaves of the plant turn black. 

Coleus like it when it's warm, but they also like it when it's humid. So, if you want to grow coleus inside, place the plant somewhere warm and humid. 

Feed Coleus for Fast Growth

Fertile soil does not need to be fertilized because it already has the nutrient plants need. But giving coleus fertilizer will make the plant grow faster and larger. 

Feed coleus once a month during the growing season with all-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizerThe spring is the best time to fertilize your lovely coleus

Fertilizing tips:

  1. Don't put fertilizer when the plant is dry. You should water the plant first, then give it fertilizer. Giving fertilizer to a dry plant will only hurt the plant.
  2. Don't feed your coleus when the weather is hot.
  3. Do not put fertilizer on the plant's leaves.
  4. Always read the package and follow the instructions.

Prune Your Beloved Coleus Once Flowers Buds Appear

Flower buds will grow on the coleus. You can pinch off the coleus flowers if you only want the beautiful leaves. This will make the plant put all its energy into producing leaves instead of flowers and seeds.

However, some people grow coleus for its leaves and flowers. It all depends on your choice.

If you want your coleus to be full and bushy, pinch off the tips of their stems. If you don't trim plants, they will grow long and lose shape. When you notice yellowing and browning leaves, it is also necessary for you to prune.

Propagate Coleus from Cuttings

Generally, coleus is grown from cuttings instead of seeds because this is the best way. Cut a new green stem about 4 to 6 inches long to start propagating coleus. Please remove the leaves at the bottom and put them in a rooting hormone.

If you want to plant it in a pot, prepare a pot with enough drainage holes and potting mix. Plant the cuttings in the soil and cover the cuttings with a plastic bag. Don't let the plastic touch the plant.

Once everything is ready, put the plant somewhere warm and bright. The roots will start growing after 2 to 3 weeks of planting. After that, remove the plastic and place it in ideal conditions for coleus to grow.

You can also grow it in water instead of soil. All you have to do is put the cuttings in the water and wait for them to grow roots. They will grow well in a vase filled with water.

If you want to propagate coleus from seeds, you can learn here.

Protect Your Coleus from Frost

Coleus really can't handle cold or freezing weather. So, when winter comes, you will need to protect it. If you're growing coleus in a pot, move the pot inside your house, shed, or garage.

If you're growing it in the ground or a large pot, you'll need to cover it to prevent it from getting frost. You can use unique frost covers, or you can use old towels, sheets, and blankets

But remember, you can't use any plastic materials, such as tarpaulins. The frost will kill your favorite coleus if the plastic contacts the plants.

Another way of overwintering coleus is by taking cuttings in late winter or when frosts come to create new plants. Once winter has passed, you can plant new plants in the spring.

Potting and Repotting Coleus

Whenever a container-grown coleus appears to have outgrown its container, it must be repotted. As a heads-up, coleus is a fast-growing plant, so if you want to avoid constantly repotting them, plant them in a reasonably big container.

Common Coleus Pests

Pests don't bother Coleus nearly ever. This is why a lot of people like Coleus. But if your coleus plant isn't growing in the best conditions, pests can attack it.

Pests can be attacked by common household pests such as mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites. How do you identify these 3 pests? Well here's how!

If the plant is infested with mealybugs, the fine white fuzz will appear on the underside of the foliage. Meanwhile, aphids are tiny, translucent insects that gather on plant stems and leaf undersides. They feed on the plant's sap.

Spider mites will usually form a thin, woven sheath on the leaves. Spider-mite-infested plants will have mottled foliage.

After knowing the characteristics of these pests, now how to deal with them? The method of pest control depends on the insect's severity. If the infestation is not too severe, spray the plant with water or wipe the stems and foliage to remove the aphids and spider mite webs

Neem oil or another natural insecticide may be helpful if there are excessive pests in your coleus.

Common Coleus Diseases

In addition to bugs, diseases can also hurt coleus. Root and stem rot are widespread diseases that affect coleus. These issues are typically caused by too-wet soil resulting from poor drainage, insufficient drainage holes in the container, or overwatering.

How can you prevent these diseases from infecting coleus? Since these diseases are caused by constantly wet soil, you need to ensure the soil and pots have good drainage.

In addition to root and stem rot, downy mildew can affect coleus plants. This disease is caused by excess moisture and can usually be transmitted to other plants. You should check nearby plants if your coleus plant is affected by downy mildew.

Growing coleus is simple and inexpensive; they need minimal care. It will help if you do not let the soil get too wet because that would damage the coleus.