How to Care for Coleus Plants

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How to Care for Coleus Plants

Coleus plants are best known for their beautiful foliage, but they also occasionally produce flowers in late summer or autumn. Depending on the area they live in, Australian gardeners may grow their coleus plants indoors or outdoors.


Where to Grow Coleus Plants

In Sydney and warmer parts of Australia, coleus plants can survive outside; however, the cold winters in other regions can damage these plants, which mostly originated in warm North Africa and Indonesia. Therefore, many gardeners prefer to grow coleus plants in containers so they can be kept in the home year-round or brought inside during cold weather.


Growing Coleus Plants in Containers

Coleus plants can grow quite large, particularly in warm climates, so it's important to plant them in containers that are at least 30 centimetres in diameter. Gardeners can place pebbles at the bottom of the container to improve drainage. Many Australian gardeners overwinter their coleus plants indoors but move them outside once the temperature rises above 10 degrees Celsius.


Light and Soil Needs

Coleus plants thrive best when grown in partial shade. Coleus plants that are kept indoors should be placed near a window that gets sunlight for part of the day. They need fertile soil that drains easily, preferably with a pH of 7 or slightly higher. Gardeners can test their soil using a soil pH meter and add lime to increase the pH if necessary.


How to Water Coleus Plants

The soil around coleus plants needs to be kept moist but not saturated. Watering is most important while the plants are young, as mature plants are much more resistant to drought. Coleus plants in containers need more frequent watering than those planted directly in the ground. As soon as the top couple of centimetres of soil has dried, gardeners should add more water to prevent wilting.


How to Feed Coleus Plants

Coleus plants can survive and even thrive without fertiliser if they are planted in rich soil; however, adding half-strength liquid fertiliser can boost the growth of a coleus plant during the spring and summer. Coleus plants in containers are more likely to benefit from the addition of liquid fertiliser than those growing outside.


How to Propagate Coleus Plants

Coleus plants are easy to propagate. Their cuttings root so easily that they can simply be placed in a glass of water to encourage roots to grow. They are also easy to grow from seed in about eight to 10 weeks. Gardeners can transplant young coleus plants into containers or beds when they are a few centimetres tall, after which they grow rapidly and develop dense foliage. Gardeners can encourage their coleus plants to become thick and bushy by pinching off the shoots of young plants.



Coleus plants can thrive in both indoor and outdoor environments as long as they are not exposed to frost. Gardeners should remember to give these voracious plants plenty of space to grow by leaving a gap between each plant in the bed or planting in large containers.

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