How to grow Coleus

Solenostemon scutellarioides

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).

Growing Coleus from seed

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 .

Transplanting Coleus

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.

Ensure that temperatures are mild and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Coleus is a tender plant.

Seed Saving Coleus

The seeds are very tiny and it is easier to make new plants by taking cuttings.

How long does Coleus take to grow?

These estimates for how long Coleus takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world.

Days to Germination How long does it take Coleus to germinate?
8 days

Average 8 days | Min 2 days | Max 22 days (130)

Days to Transplant How long until I can plant out Coleus?
+ 51 days

Average 51 days | Min 21 days | Max 273 days (15)

Days to Maturity How long until Coleus is ready for harvest / bloom?
+ 20 days

Average 20 days | Min 6 days | Max 228 days (4)

Total Growing Days How long does it take to grow Coleus?
= 79 days

When should I plant Coleus?

Our when to plant Coleus estimates are relative to your last frost date.

When to sow The number of days to sow Coleus before or after your last frost date.
56 days before Last Frost Date

Coleus Etymology

From the Greek “koleos”, meaning sheath. The male portions of coleus flowers, the stamens, are fused into a tube or sheath

Other names for Coleus

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



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