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Coleus: Growing and Maintenance

Updated on June 1, 2016

Coleus: (Solenostemon scutellarioides)

Does your garden need a little flare? Is it lacking color once your flowering plants have worn-out? Are there spaces within the garden that just appear blah? If so, then you definitely need to consider a Coleus plant. These beauties will give your garden flare and color and provide you much pleasure from early summer to frost.

Coleus come in a variety colors, forms, and textures. Their colors range from red, white, pink, green and burgundy, just to name a few; however, they don’t just sport your conventional colors. Instead, their foliage graces you with a dramatic, even somewhat exotic, variegated burst of color.

Like the color, the foliage on a Coleus is quite different as well, depending on the variety. The leaves can be wide and oval, long and narrow, scalloped edged, and some even appear to have a fringed look. Furthermore, their leaves can appear velvety to rough and crinkled. No matter what style you choose, you will be delighted, trust me.

Where To Plant

Coleus can be trailing or upright, and depending on the variety, they do well in sun and shade. Although they do well in the sun, they appreciate partial shade, and will show you their appreciation by producing a display of vivid colors throughout the season. Be sure to supply them with moist, well-drained soil for the best production and deadhead the purple flower spikes for continuous growth; otherwise, they will become lanky and unattractive.

Hint: the purple flower spike can always be brought inside and placed in water for a decorative approach. I place mine in with other cuttings I have rooting – I just hate to throw them away until they are done gracing me with their beauty.

Coleus plants are the perfect complement to the garden when used as borders or fillers in beds. Furthermore, they are fabulous when used in pots and patio containers, so you city or apartment dwellers, don’t fret; you can enjoy these gorgeous plants too. If you find you don’t have room for pots, consider a hanging basket with a trailing Coleus. Likewise, you can grow them inside as a houseplant. Be sure to keep them in a bright area, preferably indirect light, and provide a temperature that doesn’t dip below 65 degrees in the evening. I have found that planting several varieties together creates a cascade of color that is simply outstanding.

Note: If planting in a container, try pairing them with English Ivy, Lantana, Marigolds, or Blanket Flower.

Propagating and Pest


Unlike some other plants, propagating a Coleus is stress-free and low maintenance if you take the stem cutting approach. It is this simple - gather stem cuttings and place them in water or dirt to root. Stem cuttings can be gathered at any time throughout the growing season; however, I would suggest cutting them early in the day because this is when most plants seem to have the most nutrients.


As with most plants, there are some annoying little pest to be concerned about. Coleus are prone to mealy bugs, aphids, snails, slugs and whiteflies. So, check them periodically.

Hint: I prefer to stay away from the chemical pesticides, so here are a few tricks that are ecofriendly

  • Snails and Slugs - add a little beer to the saucer
  • Mealy bugs – dabbed them rubbing alcohol
  • Aphids – simply spray with water and wipe off

A Great Choice

Coleus are a great choice for any garden, porch, or houseplant. Their vibrant colors, dramatic appeal, and somewhat exotic look is sure to bring you much pleasure.


Grow from 1-1/2 to 3 feet tall

  • Perennials grow in zone 10
  • Warm season Annuals grow in Zones 2 - 11
  • Prone to pest
  • Deadhead for bushy plants
  • Stem cuttings – root in water or dirt
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Sun or shade plant

© 2014 bellartdesigns


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