Coleus

How to grow coleus

Find out all you need to know about growing coleus (also known as solenostemon or plectranthus), in this detailed Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Take cuttings
Take cuttings

Do not Take cuttings in January

Do not Take cuttings in February

Do not Take cuttings in March

Do not Take cuttings in April

Do not Take cuttings in May

Do Take cuttings in June

Do Take cuttings in July

Do not Take cuttings in August

Do not Take cuttings in September

Do not Take cuttings in October

Do not Take cuttings in November

Do not Take cuttings in December

Coleus plants, also known as solenostemon or plectranthus, are grown for their stunning foliage in combinations of bright red, burgundy, yellows, green, pink, brown and bronze.

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Coleus look good in summer bedding schemes or as a filler at the front of a summer border, and are ideal for summer pots and containers. They are perfect for an exotic or jungle-style planting scheme. They can also be grown as house plants or in a conservatory.

Coleus is actually an ornamental member of the mint family, native to Indonesia. All species formerly in the Coleus genus have now been split into either Plectranthus or Solenostemon.

How to grow coleus

Grow coleus in a sunny or partially shaded spot to bring out its beautiful leaf colours. It likes moist but well drained soil. It is a tender perennial, but is usually grown as an annual in the UK, planted out in May when there is no threat of frost. Coleus won’t survive in cold weather, so if you’re growing it in a pot, bring it indoors in autumn and grow it as a house or conservatory plant. Alternatively, take cuttings in summer for new plants the following spring.

More on growing coleus:

Coleus: jump links

  • Where to grow coleus
  • How to care for coleus
  • How to propagate coleus
  • Coleus problem-solving
  • Types of coleus to grow

  • Where to plant coleus

    Planting coleus as a bedding plant
    Planting coleus as a bedding plant

    Plant coleus in a sunny or partly shaded spot, in moist but well-drained soil. Coleus are low growing, so they look best at the front of a border, combined with other bedding plants, or in pot on a patio. If you’re growing coleus as a house plant, grow it in a bright spot that gets a little direct sun.


    How to plant coleus

    Planting coleus with lantana and impatiens
    Planting coleus with lantana and impatiens

    Plant coleus in May, once there are no more frosts forecast. Prepare the soil by forking in some multipurpose compost. Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the original pot, add the plant and fill around it with soil. Water in well. If planting in a pot, dig a hole that is the same size and depth as the original pot, and plant at the same level. Water in well.


    Caring for coleus

    Frost damage to coleus foliage
    Frost damage to coleus foliage

    If growing coleus in pots outdoors, move plants indoors in autumn before the first frosts. If using as bedding plants, you could transfer to pots and move to a sheltered indoor area. Alternatively, grow as a conservatory houseplant.


    How to propagate coleus

    Taking coleus cuttings
    Taking coleus cuttings

    Coleus plants are easy to propagate. Take cuttings in summer to increase your supply of plants, then grow them on for next season in a greenhouse or conservatory.

    How to take cuttings


    Growing coleus: problem solving

    Coleus has no problem with diseases if grown outside, but if grown in a conservatory or indoors, look out for pests such as whitefly, mealybugs, red spider mite and scale insects.

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    Coleus varieties to try