The plants grow well in moist well-drained soil. They are heat-tolerant, though they do less well in full sun in subtropical areas than in the shade. In mild areas (no snow in winter), plants can usually be kept as perennials if well managed. Whereas cultivation in colder areas, they are often grown as annuals as they are not hardy and become leggy and unattractive with age. Though this is usually resolved by pinching back growing tips to encourage bushing. In bright hot areas, the colors of the plant will typically be more intense in shaded areas than in full sun, and the plants will require less water there. Coleus also make low-maintenance houseplants, and can often be propagated by clipping a length of stem just below the leaves and putting the stem in water to root. The plant’s flowers grow on a stem above that stem’s leaves, and tend to be purple and quite small in comparison to the leaves. The plant is not generally grown for its flowers, as it promotes stem elongation (remove to halt this).
There are two ways to propagate Coleus. Seeds are inexpensive and easily obtainable. To germinate, simply sprinkle seeds on the surface soil and press down. Seeds need light to germinate, so avoid covering the seeds. To keep seeds moist, grow in a container and cover with plastic, or mist seeds daily (if starting seeds directly in the garden). Sprouts can show color in as little as two weeks. Alternatively, cuttings can be taken. Cuttings root readily in plain water, without the addition of rooting hormone (although it is still beneficial).Ensure a distance of 11.7 inches (30.0 cm) between seeds when sowing - look to sow at a depth of approximately 0.0 inches (0.01 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 18°C / 64°F to ensure good germination.
By our calculations*, you should look at sowing Coleus about 56 days before your last frost date .
Transplant the tiny seedlings to individual pots at the two leaf stage, as soon as they are big enough to be handled. Grow on until the plant is established under glass
Before transfer to garden, accustom to conditions by moving to a sheltered place outside for a week.
The seeds are very tiny and it is easier to make new plants by taking cuttings.
These estimates for how long Coleus takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world.
Average 8 days | Min 2 days | Max 22 days (130)
Average 51 days | Min 21 days | Max 273 days (15)
Average 20 days | Min 6 days | Max 228 days (4)
Our when to plant Coleus estimates are relative to your last frost date.
From the Greek “koleos”, meaning sheath. The male portions of coleus flowers, the stamens, are fused into a tube or sheath
Coleus, Flame Nettle, Painted Nettle, Painted Leaf, Poor Man’s Croton
Coleus blumei, C. blumei var. verschaffeltii, Plectranthus scutellarioides, Ocimum scutellarioides, Solenostemon hybrida
Misspellings: Coleous, Solenostemon scutellaroides