How to Care for Coleus


Coleus plants are known for their colorful, variegated leaves and can be excellent additions to an indoor or outdoor garden. They may come in yellows, greens, reds, and some even come in pinks or purples. They require attention to maintain a bushy, attractive appearance but grow easily in the right conditions.

Step 1

Propagate coleus plants from softwood cuttings a few inches long. These may be placed in average to good soil and watered regularly to root new plants.

Step 2

Keep plants evenly moist. A mister or spray bottle may be used to help maintain humidity in periods of extreme heat.

Step 3

Apply all-purpose fertilizer during the growing season to help plants gain their full potential.

Step 4

Prune the plants in any season by pinching the new stems and leaves. This helps plants grow new stems and bushier, more compact growth.

Step 5

Stake the stems if they begin to seem weak.

Tips and Warnings

  • The color of your coleus may determine how much light it needs. Pale plants tend to burn in too much sun, but darker plants, such as the purple varieties, need more full and direct sunlight to thrive. In regions with snow or harsh winter weather, coleus may be grown as an annual or overwintered indoors. In milder climates, coleus plants may be grown outdoors as a perennial plant. Coleus plants may be susceptible to downy mildew, certain viruses, and thrips infestations.

Things You'll Need

  • Softwood stem cuttings
  • Location with bright light or full sun
  • All-purpose fertilizer during the growing period
  • Spray bottle or mister
  • Stakes


  • Coleus Growth
  • Goodreads: Complete Guide to Houseplants
Keywords: coleus, houseplant, variegated

About this Author

Amy Hengst is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor in the San Francisco Bay Area, with expertise in technology, education, and gardening. She's written about computer networking, IT Security, and also maintains a regular blog about computer ergonomics and alternative health. When not writing, she's out taking photographs or zooming by on her bicycle.