Potted Coleus Care: Tips On Growing Coleus In A Pot
Colette’s Notes: I have been growing coleus for years now and I am not sure why it took me so long to write this post. Colette is a very easy plant to grow indoors and its flowers are pretty.
However, my experience with coleus has always been limited due to the fact that they don’t bloom until late summer or fall when I want them to! So here goes…
I grew up with coleus in a pot. My mom had one and she would put them out every weekend for us to play in.
She was always telling us all sorts of stories about her time growing them. I remember once being told that the first ones were planted in a large old barn, which became their home during the day and at night they would go into the barn and sleep there. They didn’t like the cold, but they loved the warmth of the barn bed. I guess my mother never forgot those memories and made sure that coleus lived happily ever after in our house.
The next time I saw a coleus plant was when my friend Rachel brought over some from her garden. She told me she had grown them in pots when she was little and still did sometimes.
She had four different kinds and we repotted them into one large pot. I remember the colors, but I wouldn’t try to recreate the exact combination. They weren’t labeled or anything so I’m not sure what they were called.
Over the years, I have tried to grow other plants from seeds, but haven’t had much success. Coleus are easy though and no matter how many times my mom forgets to water them, they always bounce back in a couple days.
Solenostemon, also known as Coleus, is a perennial flowering plant. There are hundreds of different kinds of coleus and it can grow into a small shrub or vine.
The color combinations available are endless and the plants are striking whether they have one or two colors. The leaves are the most interesting part and sizes range from small to large. Coleus can be grown indoors or outdoors and bloom in late summer or fall.
Coleus can grow in a large variety of soil types, but prefer loose and well-drained soil. They don’t do well in heavy or clumpy soil.
The best practice is to start with new soil that doesn’t have any fertilizer in it. Coleus can’t tolerate high levels of nitrogen so avoid getting compost or manure based soil. You can add perlite or vermiculite to help keep the soil loose.
To get the best results, water your plants early in the day so that the soil has time to dry out a bit before night. Coleus are very susceptible to root rot so you want to avoid soggy soil.
If your tap water is high in minerals, it might be wise to let it sit for a day and then water with that. If you start with filtered water, you can just use that from the beginning.
If your plant starts to get yellow or purple leaves, this might be a sign of overwatering. Coleus can go weeks without watering and then suddenly start to shrivel a bit.
It’s always best to err on the side of less watering rather than more. If you see browning, it’s probably too late. There’s not much to do except prune off the dead part and wait for new growth.
Coleus don’t need a lot of fertilizer, but if you want yours to grow faster, you can add a diluted amount of houseplant fertilizer. Again, coleus don’t like high levels of nitrogen so go with a mild mix or half-strength water-soluble kind.
You can also use bone meal or blood meal to encourage blooming, but this will probably be unnecessary unless you are growing them indoors.
If your leaves start to look pale and unhealthy, that means you are over-fertilizing. You can still save the plant by pruning off the yellow portions of the leaves.
If it keeps happening, you might want to change what kind of fertilizer you are using or how much you are adding.
Coleus like bright indirect light. If you are growing them indoors, an east- or south-facing window will give them the brightest exposure.
Coleus can also grow very well under strong fluorescent lights. A minimum of four hours of direct sunlight is best with 6-8 being ideal. For indoor plants, make sure they get good light for at least a few hours and then move them if possible.
Temperatures should be between 65-80 degrees for optimal growth with 70 degrees being right in the middle. Coleus can tolerate temperatures a few degrees on either side of this, but it certainly doesn’t make them grow any faster.
If you have a very large coleus, the temperature on the cool side might be a help in the winter.
Fertilize at half strength every week and your coleus should thrive. It is normal for them to go completely brown and drop their leaves when the temperature gets too cold.
New growth will appear when the temperature is to their liking again.
Coleus can be grown indoors or out, but the plants need special care when grown in a container — more about container growing later.
When grown in a large planter, your Coleus will do fine in a loose and well-drained soil. You can use a regular potting soil, but be sure to add sand or perlite to help aerate the mixture.
You don’t need to fertilize container grown Coleus until springtime and then use only half strength. To get new growth, Coleus will need about a month with plenty of water and another month or so with just enough to keep from wilting.
Fertilize lightly in spring and again in summer and fall if needed.
When grown in containers, the roots will often become pot-bound. This means that the root system has filled up the entire container and is reaching for the surface.
When this happens, you need to either root prune or transplant them.
To root prune, take a sharp knife and cut off a one-inch piece of root and some of the stem. You don’t need to cut more than an inch because any more will weaken the plant.
Sources & references used in this article:
Effect of potential bioinoculants and organic manures on root‐rot and wilt, growth, yield and quality of organically grown Coleus forskohlii in a semiarid tropical region … by R Rogers – 2008 – Timber Press (OR)
Effect of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and Pseudomonas fluorescens on root-rot and wilt, growth and yield of Coleus forskohlii by R Singh, A Kalra, BS Ravish, S Divya… – Plant …, 2012 – Wiley Online Library
Influence of Fertilizer Source and Irrigation Regimen on Containerized Production of Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides (L.) Codd)’Solar Sunrise’and Management of … by R Singh, TN Parameswaran… – Biocontrol Science …, 2009 – Taylor & Francis
Consumer preferences for price, color harmony, and care information of container gardens by KR Sanders – 2016 – digitalcommons.lsu.edu