How to Plant & Grow Coleus

Written by sylvia branch
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How to Plant & Grow Coleus
Vivid coleus plants make a beautiful garden border. (coleus image by cusrach from

Coleus plants make a beautiful addition to your indoor or outdoor garden. Coleus plants are a variety of mint in the nettle family. With proper care, a coleus plant will come back year after year making it a perennial. However, the plants need to be taken inside at the first sign of frost.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Coleus seeds
  • Planting tray
  • Potting soil
  • Cling film or glass cover for tray
  • Containers
  • Liquid fertiliser
  • Sharp knife

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  1. 1

    Sow seeds in a shallow tray of soil. Lay one seed at a time onto the soil bed. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.

  2. 2

    Water the tray of seeds gently. Cover the entire tray with cling film or a sheet of glass to help retain moisture. Keep tray in a warm place, about 18.3 to 21.1 degrees C, in bright sunlight.

  3. 3

    Uncover the tray when the seeds have sprouted, approximately two weeks from sowing. Allow the seedlings to get stronger, and then transplant them to individual pots. Coleus seedlings need to be handled by the leaf, not the stem.

  4. 4

    Transfer the seedlings outdoors after all danger of frost is past. Plant them 12 inches apart in well-drained soil. Coleus plants do their best in bright indirect light or shady conditions. The intensity of the colours will change as a result of their exposure to light.

  5. 5

    Water at the time of transfer, and then mulch to retain heat and moisture. When flowers appear, pinch them back to preserve the plant. Letting a coleus flower will eventually kill the plant.

Tips and warnings

  • Feed your coleus monthly with a liquid fertiliser--a 10-10-10 all-purpose fertiliser.
  • Clone your favourite coleus plants by taking a stem, cutting using a sharp knife. Place in a glass of warm tap water to root, and then transfer to potting soil.
  • Save your outdoor plants by taking cuttings and growing as houseplants throughout the winter months.
  • Watch for mealy bugs, aphids and white flies. Spray the underside of the leaves with soap shield if you see them.
  • Direct sunlight can burn the coleus plant.

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