Coleus plant indoor care is easy and worthwhile. These tropical beauties make fantastic houseplants. Liven your home with indescribable colors as either hanging plants or upright growers.
Coleus is often seen in patio containers and hanging baskets. If you live in a warm climate coleus are often used in landscape planting as annuals, or tender perennials. There are many Varieties that work well in both sun and shade.
However, Coleus plants also offer stunning foliage in a large variety of colors, leaf shape and plant size for your home.
They provide lovely color and texture. Indoor growing offers you the best opportunity to primp and spoil these beauties.
If you are a beginner plant parent, have no fear. Coleus are one of the best beginner houseplants.
Coleus is a HUGE genus of tropical plants with an amazing number of ornamental hybrids to choose from.
There are hundreds of coleus varieties. And many of them are lovely as houseplants.
Coleus plants are inexpensive and widely available at your local plant shops. You are sure to find lots of excellent choices.
Tip: Read the plant tags. Be sure to choose the correct size and growth pattern for your home.
Choose the coleus variety best suited to where you want to place them. It is easy to get seduced by the lovely foliage and realize later that you picked the wrong growth habit, leaf size or color pattern.
Yep. I have done that. You will no doubt find them a place anyway. 🙂
Coleus Indoor trailing plants:
Coleus can withstand some neglect and poor conditions. The worst thing you can do is overwater them. Coleus is susceptible to Root rot.
Look for trailing varieties like Meandering Linda, Trailing Plum, or Strawberry Drop to grow in hanging baskets. Or let them trail off your plant shelves.
Upright Coleus for Table Tops:
Coleus varieties come in all sizes. You can find small upright bushy plants of 6 inches or less. They make a delightful centerpiece planing. Group several in a colorful large shallow planter for your table centerpiece to make a splash.
Or set them singly in a cozy nook for a bright spot of color.
On the other end of the size scale is the upright, large leaved Kong Coleus. It will require quite a bit of room. They can grow two to three feet tall.
Read the notes on how to prune trailers and table top varieties to keep them well shaped in our care guide below.
Normally you will see coleus in any nursery or plant shop in your area. If you are looking for a particular variety or want to shop online Etsy is the way to go.
I grew coleus for years as hanging baskets and just loved them. Be sure you pick a low light variety unless your home is full of bright indirect light.
Coleus get leggy and unbalanced easily. We share tips on pinching back gangly growth and how to prune coleus in our care guide.
Look at the growth pattern on the tag. If you want a trailer or upright bush be sure that is what you pick.
These plant are moderately TOXIC. Keep this plant out of reach of pets and children. Read more about toxic symptoms on ASPCA.
Coleus Indoor Plant Guide:
Learn all about the particulars of coleus plant indoor care right here.
Coleus care and propagation is very simple. Grow them in a warm humid place with proper soil and light.
Watch them thrive with exuberant colors that will brighten your home.
Read on for the details of coleus care indoors…
- All coleus varieties require a light soil.
- A mix of potting soil and perlite will keep the roots happiest.
- Our preferred houseplant mix for coleus is 40 % potting mix to 60% perlite.
- A heavy soil potting mix is not recommended for coleus plants..
Pot Size and Type:
- Coleus can be grown in pots that fit the roots.
- If you want to encourage faster growth choose a pot about 2 inches wider in diameter than the root ball.
- Any well draining pot can be used.
- Repot every year or when roots come out the drainage holes on the pot bottom To the next pot size up.
- Coleus hybrids enjoy a wide variety of lighting conditions. Check the plant tag. Most varities will tolerate low light but do best in bright indirect light as houseplants.
- Some filtered sunlight from a window will be appreciated.
- Shield coleus from strong direct light in summer. South and west facing sunny windows can burn and fade the foliage.
- Tip: Window sheers or blinds can offset some brief periods of high direct light.
- Water your coleus when the soil is dry down an inch or so. Aroids do not like to be overly wet.
- Watering is best done on a regular schedule so the plant is not over or under watered. Both can cause stress on the plant.
- This tropical plant enjoys high humidity. 50 to 70% is a good range. They can tolerate less but they won't be happy.
- In dry climates coleus will benefit from a humidifier nearby. Or set it in your kitchen or bathroom. For a really dry climate frequent misting, pebbles trays and plant grouping will also help.
- In dormant winter months reduce watering to when the soil is dry down halfway .
- Never let this plant get wet feet. If the soil is compacted the bottom of the soil can remain wet which encourages root rot and fungus gnats.
- If you see yellowing leaves on the foliage you may be overwatering.
How to Fertilize:
- Coleus are not heavy feeders and go without feeding more than other houseplants. But an occasional dose, even every other month in the growing season, is welcome.
- Decrease feedings by late Fall and allow the plant to rest through the winter months.
- Look for brown spots on the leaves of your plants. This may indicate an over concentration of salts in the roots from over feeding. Fertilizers can burn the leaves if concentrations in the soil build too high.
- If this happens flush the soil with water to reduce the salts.
- Keep coleus at a low of 50 Degrees F( in dormant winter months). to upward of 85 Degrees F. This tropical plant requires warmth and humidity for best growth.
Pruning and Training:
- Pruning will give you a fuller plant with more even growth. Unpruned coleus get leggy. Pinch them back like the polka dot plant.
- Sharp Hand pruners are preferred for pruning. They will give a clean cut that will heal quickly.
Table Top Plants:
- It’s easy to prune and shape coleus to whatever length and fullness you desire.
- As a table top plant cut the trailers back evenly all around the pot. If you want the pot fuller add more starts to the pot.
- Many trailing varieties of Coleus make excellent, easy care houseplants. Coleus are fast growing plants.
- The vibrant foliage is easily trimmed to whatever length you enjoy.
- Add the trimmed ends into your pot to fill in any bald areas in your pot.
- Be sure to turn the basket toward the light whenever you water to balance the foliage growth around the pot.
- Trim off leggy branches at the intersections (pictured above) to keep your baskets well balanced and shaped.
- All coleus produce small blue clusters of flowers on long stems..
- Coleus flowers will sap the strength of your mother plant.
- For optimal growth and vibrancy of foliage, snip off the flower stems.
- Coleus are tough. But like all plants, can get attacked by pests.
- Stress by longterm overwatering, poor light, extreme temperatures and soil conditions are contributors to plant stress..
- Spider mites, mealy bugs, scale, thrips, aphids, and whitefly along with pesky but nearly harmless, fungus gnats are the most common houseplant pests you will see.
- Click the linked posts above for information on how to get rid of all these pests.
- To minimize the possibility of pests be sure to check all nursery plants before bringing them home.
- Quarantine all new plants until you are sure no pests live in them.
How to Propagate:
Coleus are incredibly easy to propagate.
You can also grow them from seed. Although that is usually done in ourdoor plantings. Growing coleus from seed will not produce reliablle results in your foliage colors.
If you want to exactly reproduce a plant foliage you love. Use tissue cutting with the methods below.
Methods of Tissue Propagation:
Plant bare unrooted cutting in good soil with the proper light and moisture. In a few weeks you will notice new growth.
- Cut off a 3 to 6 inch stem with a couple of nodes and healthy growth.
- Strip off bottom leaves. Place the node into a jar with water. Use tap water that has settled 24 hours in the jar to dissipate chemicalsl.
- Set the jar in a well lit area.
- After several weeks roots will grow. Allow the roots to get an inch or more in length.
- Plant gently and firmly into pot with proper soil mix.
- Make sure to keep the soil moist until the roots begin to set into the soil.
Read our post on pothos propagation for more on these propagation methods. Coleus Plants are propagated in these ways too.
Watch our demonstration video below.
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