How to Plant & Grow Coleus


Known for its vibrant red, pink and greens leaves, coleus comes in both full-sun and full-shade varieties. Since coleus is only hardy in subtropical climates and needs protection at temperatures below 50 F, most gardeners grow coleus in containers for easy winter storage or grow the plant only as an annual.

Step 1

Fill a 10- to 12-inch-wide container 2/3 to 3/4 full with potting soil.

Step 2

Remove coleus transplants from their plastic containers. Break apart the plant root balls by massaging them with your fingers. Untangle any tangled roots with your fingers.

Step 3

Space coleus in the container, spreading the roots out in the soil with your fingers. Rosy Dawn Gardens suggests planting three or four coleus per 10- or 12-inch container, or one coleus plant per 6- or 8-inch container.

Step 4

Cover over the plant roots with potting soil. Don't compress the soil; instead, mound it over the coleus roots.

Step 5

Water the container thoroughly until the soil settles around the plant roots and becomes saturated.

Step 6

Place the container in a full sun to part sun, depending on the requirements of your coleus species. Mulch the container to help the plant retain water.

Step 7

Water coleus deeply (until the soil becomes saturated) each time it becomes dry to the touch.

Step 8

Pinch back coleus to encourage new growth. Grasp a new shoot between your thumb and forefinger, and pick it off. Pinching encourages side shoots, which will help your coleus grow bushy. Pinching also discourages flowering, which keeps your coleus producing colorful leaves.

Step 9

Move coleus plants indoors when temperatures fall to 50 F. Place coleus near a southern-facing window or a sufficient grow light. Continue to water regularly; keep indoors until the temperature rises to 50 F again.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Container
  • Coleus transplants
  • Mulch


  • University of Illinois: Coleus
  • Telegraph: How to Grow Coleus
  • Rosy Dawn Gardenrs: Coleus Care
Keywords: coleus care, grow coleus, plant coleus

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.