The Coleus plant has come back as a popular plant in recent decades. Its bright leaf color combinations ranging from green, yellow, pink, red, maroon, and lime green have become popular for homes and offices. Here is how to take care of a Coleus plant!
Also known by names like Painted Nettle and Poor Man’s Croton, it is also recognized by its square stem system. And though it can produce flowers that range from white to blue, they are often pinched to preserve energy for the colorful leaves.
Types of Coleus Plants
- Wizard Series – This type is easy to grow from seeds and provides 12-14 plants with a mixture of colors.
- Kong – This type is known for large, 6-inch leaves growing to about 2 feet tall.
- Black Dragon – This type will grow deep red leaves with ruffled edges.
- Premium Sun – This variety, unlike others, will be able to take on direct sunlight.
- Fairway – This smaller variety will grow to about 6-10 inches tall with many color combinations.
What Soil Works Best for a Coleus Plant?
These plants do best in peat moss-based potting mixes between 6-7 pH. Keep the plant away from cedar mulch, as it can prove toxic to your Coleus.
How Often Should You Fertilize Coleus Plants?
The Coleus doesn’t need much in terms of fertilizer, and you may be able to get away with it if your soil has enough nutrients. However, you can give it a monthly feeding with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at half strength or diluted liquid fertilizer every 1-2 weeks.
How Much Sunlight Does a Coleus Need?
The amount of sun needed depends on the category of Coleus you have. But in general, it won’t need anything more than morning sun and afternoon shade.
The Seed Coleus, a traditional type that you will purchase as seeds, will thrive in full to partial shade. However, if you have a Sun Coleus, typified by its hybrid nature, you can give them more direct sunlight. Specifically, these newer cultivars have been grown from Coleus cuttings to be more sun tolerant.
What Temperature Works Best for Coleus Plants?
The best temperature for this plant to thrive is around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Though you can plant outdoors, it is best to keep it potted inside. Since it is susceptible to frost and cooler temperatures, you will run into problems leaving the plant outside during the fall and winter.
Do Coleus Plants Enjoy Humidity?
These tropical plants enjoy humidity. You can give it proper moisture by keeping it in the bathroom or near a humidifier.
How Often Should You Water a Coleus Plants?
Like many other plants, the Coleus does well in moist, well-draining soil that has the chance to dry between watering. However, if you have an outdoor Coleus plant, it will need to be watered up to twice a day during hot weather.
Watering your Coleus plant indoors should be enough once every 2-3 days, with some variance when living in dryer climates. If it is overwatered, it may develop root rot, a common disease for this plant.
What Size Do Coleus Plants Grow to Typically?
Indoor Coleus plants grow between half a foot and three feet tall.
Most Common Bugs
Common bugs that attack this plant include scale, whiteflies, mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. To remove these bugs, you should put rubbing alcohol on a pad and gently wipe down the leaves that have the bugs.
Most Common Diseases
Root rot is a common disease that this plant can encounter if you overwater it or use a pot without drainage holes. Another common disease with this plant is mildew, which can occur if the plant is in an area with lots of humidity.
When Should I Plant Coleus?
When buying this plant in the store, you will likely run into hybrid types that grew from cuttings. However, you can also begin with seeds. If you choose to sow your Coleus seeds, start the process around mid-March.
Sprinkle them on top of the potting soil and cover the pot with plastic. Keep the pot covered and in a bright area of your home until it germinated – a process that takes about 10-12 days in 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it begins to sprout, take the plastic off, and make sure to keep the soil moist, and transplant it in a larger pot when leaves start to appear.
Coleus can thrive in both hanging baskets and floor pots. If you choose the latter, make sure it is heavy enough because the plant may grow top-heavy. When using terra cotta pots, it’s best to line the inside with plastic to help the soil hold its moisture.
How Often Should I Prune Coleus Plants?
As it grows, pruning will become an essential habit in your Coleus care routine. The plant will take a leggy shape with heavy foliage if it goes untrimmed.
However, pinching the stems when they grow to about 6 inches tall will help the plant redirect energy and give off a bushier and fuller look. By taking this denser foliage, it will not only look better kept but will need less sun to survive as well.
How Do I Propagate Coleus Plants?
Coleus is another plant known for its easy propagation process. Since it roots easily, the cuttings are resilient enough to start in a glass of water while being transplanted within a few weeks. From there, it will take a single growing season for it to develop into its mature size.
To propagate by stem cutting:
- Cut 4-6 inch stem tip and remove all lower leaves, and put the end in a rooting hormone. Once that is all set, place it in a moist potting mix.
- Cover the exposed leaf nodes with potting soil, and put the container in a plastic bag. Make sure the plastic doesn’t touch the plant,
- Place it in a bright, warm location until the new roots develop in 2-3 weeks.
- Remove the bag, and grow it in a sunny, friendly spot to mature.
If you are propagating by seeds, wait until 8-10 weeks before the last frost date.
Why Are the Leaves Falling Off My Coleus Plant?
Unlike other varieties of plants like Croton, it is not as common to have leaves fall off your Coleus. If you run into this problem, your environment may have a problem. Make sure you give your plant proper light, soil, watering, and fertilizer conditions.
When your Coleus leaves lose their color, you may be overfeeding them. If this is the case, cut back on how much fertilizer you put into the soil.
Conclusion – How to Take Care of Coleus Plants
In summary, a coleus plant can bring color into your home. Growing well on their own and with others, the many coleus varieties give unique ways to decorate. Not only that, but this plant is easy to propagate, which means you can add this plant all-around your home or office.