Keep Coleus Looking its Best All Summer?

Coleus is probably one of the easiest plants to grow and propagate. In fact, the plants root so easily that you can even start cuttings in a glass of water. They can also be propagated by seed indoors about 8-10 weeks prior to the last expected spring frost.

When growing these plants, keep in mind that these beauties can grow rapidly. Plant them close together as bedding plants or tuck them into containers for a fast growing and spectacular effect.

Many people use coleus plants in mixed containers for a patio or deck.  They can be versatile container accents because they can take sun or shade and their main attraction is their colorfully patterned leaves. They have some of the most stunningly colored foliage–in combinations of green, yellow, pink, red, maroon, etc. Coleus also have a wide variety of leaf sizes and overall shapes. This means that no matter what area you are looking to put them, you can find a spot that will be perfect. These plants are great for adding color in the garden, especially in those dark, drab corners where other plants won’t grow.


Caring for coleus is easy.  They need to be kept moist, especially those that are newly planted.  Container plants also require more frequent watering than those grown in the garden (this is true of other plants, too). Although not required, the plants can be given a boost of half-strength liquid fertilizer during their active growth in spring and summer.

The only complaint that some people have is that the plants can get gangly and top heavy as summer progresses. But there is an easy solution for this:  if you continuously pinch or cut back the branches, it will spur the plants to make new growth, making a bushier, fuller shape. Two new branches will begin to grow from where you pinched. Also, pinch just under the coleus’ flower buds so the plant doesn’t waste energy producing flowers and seeds. If you let coleus flower, the leaves suffer for it, losing their beauty and vigor.

Finally, around midsummer, plants should be pruned regardless of whether they will be allowed to flower. If not maintained, they will likely become overgrown and branches will snap from their own weight.