All About Coleus Plant Care Indoors and Outdoors

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Coleus plants are some of the most colorful plants you can put in a flower bed that aren’t flowers themselves. You can get coleus plants in a variety of colors, like red, maroon, green, yellow and pink. They are also some of the easiest garden plants to grow, both outdoors and indoors.

Many people who first see this plant wonder how do you take care of a coleus plant? In this post, we go over coleus plant care both indoors and outdoors.

All About Coleus Plant Care Indoors and Outdoors

Coleus Plant Care Outdoors

You can add coleus plants as a border or even a filler for a bare area in a flower bed or garden. They are also great to use to add some color to the garden or flowerbeds.

Another way I like to use them outside is in hanging baskets. Once the coleus flowers the hummingbirds love to come to visit them every day. We often plant basil near our coleus outside as the hummingbirds seem to like basil too so that can be a great option as a companion plant to encourage pollinators.

These beautiful and colorful plants can grow anywhere from 6 inches tall to 3 1/2 feet tall, and one to three feet wide, depending on the type of coleus.

Coleus can also be grown in containers easily outside or inside.

No matter if you have your coleus growing in the ground or in a container, you will want to make sure they have well-draining potting soil.

Various varieties of Coleus plants.
Various varieties of Coleus plants.

Does coleus plants like sun or shade?

They do best with partial shade to full shade instead of full sunlight. This is another bonus of the coleus plant, they can go in areas that other plants don’t do as well due to the shade.

If the color of your coleus starts looking dull, and you have it in a spot that is getting direct sunlight, this is a sign that it’s getting too much direct sun.

There are some hybrids that have been bred to tolerate sun more than other types of coleus plants.

How often do you water coleus?

You want to make sure you keep a good daily schedule when watering coleus plants. When outside they need to be watered daily. On hot summer days this can go up to two times a day.

Coleus that are kept indoors won’t need to be watered as frequently though. Monitor the soil moisture level either by touch or with a moisture meter. When the soil becomes dry water the plant.

If you notice the coleus plant starting to droop before its normal watering time and the soil is dry to the touch then you may need to increase the watering frequency.

Coleus in the garden

Will coleus plants come back every year?

Coleus plants are perennials. However, they aren’t very hardy in areas that get cold in the winter, especially with frost.

It is best to bring in your coleus for the winter if you are not in a tropical environment.

I usually take cuttings from my outdoor coleus plants and grow those over the winter indoors so they are ready to go after the last frost date the following spring.

Will coleus plants come back after a freeze?

No, unfortunately, coleus plants will not tolerate a freeze or frost. They are usually one of the first plants I use if I’m caught by surprise at freezing temperatures coming in during the night.

Coleus Plant Care Indoors

Can a coleus plant grow inside your home? They sure can.

Coleus plants are easy to grow indoors and make great house plants that will live for several years. Each winter I add more coleus plants to our house with the cuttings I get from the outdoor coleus that we have in the warmer parts of the year.

But coleus plants don’t need that much light when you grow them indoors. During the winter months, you will want to put them somewhere near a window or substitute light using a grow light.

Watering a coleus when it is growing indoors isn’t as demanding as growing a coleus plant outside. Watering should only be needed every two or three days.

When keeping coleus plants as a house plant, you want to be sure to pinch the plant back so it branches out and has a fuller shape.

Propagating Coleus Plants

Coleus plants are very easy to propagate, and there are several ways to get new coleus plants.

You can use stem cuttings, this is the fastest way to get a new plant. Just cut off a stem of your existing coleus, pull some of the leaves towards the bottom of the stem off leaving the leaves at the top. After this just put it in a cup of water and in a couple of weeks, you’ll have roots growing.

To ensure you have better success with getting the stem cutting to root you can use a rooting hormone.

You can also start coleus plants from seed. You can buy coleus seeds or you can get the seeds from your established coleus plants.

When you buy coleus seeds they usually are a mixed variety. This way you can get a nice variety of colors for the plant leaves.

When sowing coleus seeds you will want to make sure you start them in damp potting soil and keep them warm. A good way to ensure the plant seeds stay warm is to use a plant heating mat.

Seedlings will start to sprout in about 2 weeks. While they are growing be sure to continue to keep the soil moist. Once the seedlings have gotten larger you can re-pot them to their own flower pots.

Frequently Asked Questions About Caring for Coleus Plants

Does coleus like sun or shade?

They prefer shade to direct sunlight. A few hours of the first morning sun is ok for this plant, but do not keep it in a place that gets a lot of the hot afternoon sun.

Where is the best place to plant coleus?

The best place to plant your coleus outside is in an area that doesn’t get too much direct sunlight. Under larger trees or in a flower bed that gets some morning sun are great options for these plants. You can also easily grow them in containers.

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