How to Grow and Care for Coleus

Written by regina paul
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Coleus plants were first discovered being cultivated in the Dutch colony of Java by Karl Ludwig Blume. Its original origins are not known, and as of today there are 150 different varieties of the coleus plant available. It is considered an annual and part of the mint family. Coleus plants can be difficult to care for and must have the environment just right in order to flourish properly.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Decide if you are going to put your coleus plant outdoors in your garden or indoors in your home. Coleus plants thrive in temperatures of 15.6 degrees C and above so there are few places in the United States where they will do well year-round outdoors. Because of this you need to decide at least initially where you are going to put your coleus plant.

  2. 2

    Water your plant often enough that the soil is moist, but not so much that the roots are in standing water. Coleus plants will not thrive if their soil is either too wet or too dry. If the soil is too wet it can cause the roots to rot. If it is too dry, the beautiful, colourful leaves will crinkle up and get brown spots.

  3. 3

    Put your coleus in an area that gets some sun but is still relatively shady. While there are some types of coleus plants that thrive in direct sunlight, most of them do not. It is best to plant or place your potted coleus plants in an area that is not sunny all the time, they do best when in sunlight for three or four hours per day.

  4. 4

    Nip off any buds as soon as they appear, you don't want your coleus to bloom. To keep your coleus looking its best, you need to keep it from blooming so that its leaves retain their vibrant colours. This also allows for side branching and will keep your coleus from getting too tall.

  5. 5

    Fertilise your coleus, but at half strength. Coleus plants do not respond well to fertilisers so it is best to dilute any fertiliser to half strength or to use a time release fertiliser, otherwise you could end up with a coleus that is not thriving or as colourful.

Tips and warnings

  • Grow a coleus plant indoors simply by rooting a cutting in water.
  • Plant a coleus cutting in a moisture control mixed soil and watch it grow.
  • You can also use peat pots and wedge cubes to grow coleus plants.
  • Be sure you carefully acclimate new coleus plants to both sunlight and shade as they are very sensitive and too much of one or the other can cause them to flounder and even die.

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