Coleus is my favorite outdoor plant. It grows rapidly, propagates easily from cutting or seed and is very forgiving. You will find coleus in many shapes, colors and sizes. It is truly the perfect plant for any outdoor container or garden and even indoors. Let’s take a a close look at this plant and why you should be planting it every spring.
When growing coleus, take special note of which variety you have and what its light requirements are. Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with morning sun and afternoon shade, but I have also grown coleus under the scorching afternoon sun. In this scenario, your plant will need more frequent watering. Don’t be surprised if your leaves bleach out a little, especially in red and deep purple varieties. Greens will be great under the hot afternoon sun.
They like a evenly moist soil. I tend to water my outdoor coleus everyday. If you miss a watering, your coleus will let you know with droopy and sad looking leaves. Luckily, a good watering will bring your foliage right back to beautiful.
One thing a coleus does not do well with…too much water and cold temperatures. Just like any plant, if yours is not in a pot with good drainage and sits in water, it will rot. If the temps dip below 50, be prepared for a sad looking coleus. However, don’t be discouraged. These plants will bounce back with a little TLC.
When grown indoors, keep soil evenly moist and give it it a bright sunny window. Water when dry. Gently fertilize during growing season, spring to fall.
There are two ways that I propagate my coleus. This plant will propagate very easy by cutting. You can cut off a stem and put it right in the soil or my preferred method, water. If you choose the direct to soil route, the cutting will look very sad while it tries to work out the roots. You will need to keep the soil continuously moist until you see it perk up. Use rooting hormone to speed up the process.
If propagating by water, just put your cutting in water until you see roots and then pot it up. The water to soil transition is a pretty easy one for the Coleus.
I love to collect seeds. If you let your coleus go to seed, then wait until the flowers have died off and the seed pods are looking a little dry and brown. Collect your seed stems and store them in a paper bag to dry a little more. Give you bag a shake every now and then and let the seed fall out. You can also pick your pods and open then up individually, but this job can be a little tedious. Store your seeds in a dark, temperature controlled location until spring.
Start your seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost. Sow the seeds on a tray or potting soil or individualized transplant cups, When all threats of frost and cold temps have fled and your seedlings have grown two or three sets of leaves, transplant your coleus outside. They are pretty resilient, but you might want to move them outside gradually or harden off. You can also sow your seeds directly on top of your soil and watch them grow.
Check out and download your free Seed Packet Storage Template and create cute DIY seed packs for you and your plant besties. For another dive into coleus propagation, check out this quick vid on creating a coleus arrangement with cuttings.