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Coleus Care Guide

Coleus plants for sale at A Growers Landscape Nursery

Coleus Care Guide

📅 Date Posted: April 10, 2024
💻 Author: Kyle Wardell

Coleus Basics:

Coleus plants are native to tropical regions around the world, typically thriving in shaded environments. Despite their preference for shade, coleus are remarkably adaptable and can tolerate some sunlight, provided they remain adequately hydrated and are of the appropriate variety. The level of sunlight a coleus receives directly impacts its coloration, meaning that even the same type of coleus planted in different parts of your garden may exhibit varying appearances. Exposure to full sun can prompt coleus to produce more pigmentation as a protective measure against excessive sunlight, resulting in significant alterations to their overall appearance.

Traditionally considered shade plants, coleus indeed flourish in dappled or partial shade conditions. However, they cannot thrive in deep shade, as they require a certain amount of bright, indirect light to maintain vibrant leaf pigmentation. While coleus may survive in low-light environments, their colors may appear dull and faded, and they may exhibit elongated, distorted growth patterns as they stretch towards available light sources.

All coleus varieties are sensitive to freezing temperatures and cannot endure frost. To ensure their health and vitality, it's crucial not to expose them to outdoor conditions until they have been acclimated and nighttime temperatures consistently remain above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Even without frost, temperatures in the 40s can harm coleus plants. Planting coleus outdoors too early, particularly when nights are still cool, can impede their growth and increase susceptibility to fungal diseases due to prolonged exposure to cool, damp soil conditions.


Coleus plants originate from some of the warmest regions on Earth, favoring tropical environments over desert climates. They thrive in areas close to the equator, where temperatures consistently hover around 90 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, with monsoon seasons instead of traditional four-season cycles. These conditions allow Coleus to flourish as herbaceous perennials, with no threat of frost.

In their natural habitat, Coleus typically grow in locations with high or dappled shade, which helps them cope with the intense heat. When cultivating Coleus, it's crucial to replicate these tropical conditions as closely as possible. They require well-drained soil that is consistently moist to thrive.

Although Coleus prefer warmth, they can tolerate cooler temperatures to some extent. However, temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit can negatively impact their growth and vibrant foliage. Prolonged exposure to cooler temperatures, especially in the 50s and 40s, can weaken Coleus plants, making them more susceptible to disease.

Extreme cold, including freezing temperatures and even light frost, can be fatal to Coleus plants. Therefore, it's essential to protect them from freezing conditions to ensure their health and longevity.


When your Coleus plants are young, gently pinching their growing tips can promote branching, resulting in a bushier appearance. While some Coleus plants produce blooms, you have the option to pinch them off or allow them to blossom based on your preference. However, it's essential to note that excessive blooming can detract from the plant's vitality and beauty, diverting energy towards seed production instead of leaf growth. Pruning and pinching Coleus isn't harmful; in fact, it's beneficial. Regular pruning, especially in mid-summer, helps maintain the plant's shape and keeps it looking fresh. Allowing a Coleus to become overgrown may lead to issues such as pot instability or branches breaking under their own weight.

Water and Fertilizer:

Coleus plants thrive when their roots are consistently moist but not waterlogged. Exposure to sunlight and wind increases their water needs, especially as they grow larger. During hot or windy periods, watering once or twice daily might be necessary, particularly as the plants mature and their leaf canopy expands. Prompt watering can revive wilted Coleus, but if wilting occurs frequently, it can lead to unsightly damage such as crispy edges, dry brown spots, bleaching, and loss of vibrancy. Drip irrigation is ideal for potted or ground-grown Coleus as it avoids wetting the leaves. Watering in the early morning allows leaves to dry before sun exposure, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Avoid fertilizing Coleus excessively, as it can diminish their coloration. Instead, use liquid fertilizer at half strength regularly, or opt for time-release fertilizer. Adjust fertilization frequency when transitioning Coleus indoors for winter, reducing it during the colder months and increasing it as daylight lengthens in spring.

✔ We currently have a variety of Coleus in 4" in stock. If you are interested in purchasing plants or learning more about what we offer at our plant nursery located in Silver Springs, Florida, just outside of Ocala, please give us a call at 352–239–9240 or click here to get a free quote!

Plants can also be purchased online from our Etsy store at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/GrowersPlants