Complete Guide to Coleus Plants: 7 Unique Benefits, And How They Can Add Value to Your Garden

Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides and Solenostemon scutellarioidesis) is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the Lamiaceae family. They are native to tropical regions from Africa to Asia and Australia but have been introduced to many other parts of the world. The leaves of the coleus plant are used for medicinal purposes, and they have been used for over 2000 years in Ayurvedic medicine.

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The history of coleus and its uses can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where it was used as a medicinal herb. The Egyptians also used it as an ingredient in their cosmetics and it was believed that coleus could cure leprosy in medieval Europe and hence called “herb of grace.”

Coleus Big Red Judy

Coleus Care and Maintenance.

Warm climate gardeners may grow coleus as perennials; it can grow into small shrub-like plants with thick woody stems. Though it prefers heat, it will grow happily in almost any garden, and it is typically used as an annual bedding plant or in pots.

Coleus plants however are not frost-tolerant, so don’t put them in the ground too soon. Wait until temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit before relocating them to the garden. They thrive in rich, loose, well-drained soil; therefore, amending the soil with compost or adding perlite before planting is recommended unless you have excellent soil.


Water and Light Requirements.

Plants in the coleus family typically grow in part-shade to full-sun, although its light exposure can vary. Newer varieties, such as the Wizard series, thrive in full sun. In most traditional coleus cultivars, too much sun may burn the leaves and cause the color to fade. Coleus thrives in filtered early light and afternoon shade, especially in hot areas.

Plants planted in pots indoors often receive limited indirect sunlight during the warmer (brighter) months but may require more sunlight during the winter. Strive to provide more light for indoor plants especially when its located further from windows or source of light.

This plant loves soil that is regularly moist, rich, and well-draining. Amend the soil with compost or similar organic material before planting. A good-quality potting mix will do just fine for your potted plants and ensure that the container has drainage holes. Container-grown coleus prefer loose textured potting soil, and it’s always a good idea to start with a high-quality mix with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. Provide drainage in the pot to keep the soil from becoming too damp, leading to root rot.

Remember that Coleus thrives on soil that is consistently damp but not saturated. The soil should not be wet all the time, but prolonged dry spells can stunt plant growth and cause leaves to turn brown around their edges. Allow the soil to dry out between watering and water only until the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. By using mulch, you can preserve moisture for longer periods of time, but you should avoid cedar mulch, which may be harmful to coleus. Also, avoid allowing the mulch around the base of the stems since this might promote rot and conceal harmful pest.

During warmer weather, this plant in pots may require regular watering at least once a day. Water indoor plants just when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.


7 Unique Benefits of Coleus Plant.

  1. Asthma: According to some research, inhaling forskolin, a substance derived from the coleus plant may help to enhance breathing. In some studies, it has been shown that taking forskolin by mouth can help prevent asthma attacks, but other studies have found no benefit.
  2. Dry Eyes: According to preliminary studies, taking a specific combination supplement, including coleus, for 30 days may result in a moderate reduction in dry eye symptoms compared to taking a placebo.
  3. Erectile dysfunction: Erectile Dysfunction is a condition in which the male sexual function is impaired. Early study suggests that injecting coleus into the base of the penis in conjunction with other medications can improve sexual function in males with erectile dysfunction.
  4. High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is a medical condition. According to the researchers, early research suggests that ingesting coleus root tuber for two months can result in a modest reduction in blood pressure in senior adults who have high blood pressure.
  5. Heart Function: According to some research, injecting forskolin, a chemical found in the coleus plant, into the bloodstream can enhance the heart’s function in persons who have a heart ailment known as congestive cardiomyopathy.
  6. Glaucoma: According to the researchers, early research reveals that taking a specific combo supplement containing forskolin may have a negligible effect on the blood pressure in the eyes of persons who have glaucoma.
  7. Obesity: Taking a specific coleus supplement, according to preliminary findings, does not result in weight loss but does cause a minor reduction in body fat in overweight and obese males. On the other hand, other preliminary research has demonstrated no advantage in terms of weight loss or fat loss.

Pests And Diseases.

These plants are susceptible to many different kinds of pests and diseases. These include aphids, leaf-hoppers, spider mites, mealybugs, and white-flies. These plants are susceptible to many different kinds of pests and diseases. Aphids are a severe problem for this plant because they eat away the plant’s sap, causing yellowing of the leaves or death of the plant. As well as sucking sap from the plant, leaf hoppers on the other hand, inject toxins that weaken it, making it easier for other pests to attack it. Spider mites will suck sap from the underside of leaves where it’s harder for humans to see them, which means that they can be a significant pest. Coleus is a favorite of groundhogs and juvenile rabbits. Nevertheless, if you protect your plants early in the season, these pests will usually move to other plants by mid-summer. 


Humidity and temperature.

Coleus thrives in warm, humid conditions because it is a tropical plant. Even the slightest hint of cold will result in the death of plants in temperate regions. When temps fall into the 50’s, bring plants indoors or cover them with blankets. Indoor plants should not be placed near air conditioner vents or other cold places. Plants in arid locations will appreciate some humidity from a humidifier or a bathroom style atmosphere. Wait until the weather is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above before taking potted plants outside in the spring. Take cuttings for propagation before the weather becomes chilly.

Coleus Varieties and Types.

There are hundreds of coleus varieties with different colors, leaf textures, and patterns. New cultivars are introduced each year, and garden stores tend to focus on those proven to be the most popular. If you are looking for the rarest types, you may need to search through several nurseries or online retailers. Some examples of kinds to search for are:

Fishnet Stockings.

The burgundy veins on the lime green foliage of the upright, towering ‘Fishnet stockings’ give it a beautiful look! In the dry season, place the plant in partial shade and water it regularly.


Trailing Plum.

‘Trailing plum’ is a sun-loving plant with striking leaves. It’s also one of the nicest sorts of coleus to cascade down! Grow them on soil that is rich, wet, and well-draining.

Coleus Trailing Plum

Kong Lime Spritebur

It is one of the most fantastic coleus kinds to cultivate because of its lovely lime green leaves with a mahogany crimson splash in the middle! The plant can liven up any interior or yard with its vibrant hues. In addition, it loves shade since the leaves might burn in the intense heat.

Coleus Kong Green
Coleus – Kong Green

Black Dragon

Grow ‘Black Dragon’ to provide a dynamic appeal to your landscape. It has dramatic lava-like leaves and grows well in full to moderate shade, making it one of the most fantastic coleus kinds to plant!

Coleus Black Dragon

Picture Perfect Salmon Pink

‘Picture perfect salmon pink’ with pastel-toned leaves that appear hand-painted. In full to partial shade, you can plant this beautiful work of art on the edges of your garden or in a pot.

Coleus Plant Salmon Pink

Big Red Judy.

Combine this colorful variety with attractive grasses or other plants! The broad, erect, velvety leaves thrive in full sun to partial shade. They may be used as a thriller in pots or an edging plant.

Coleus Big Red Judy
Big Red Judy

Pruning and Trimming

When your plant is about 6 inches tall, pinch out the growing tips to create a full, bushy plant. Pinching beneath the growing tips allows your plant to concentrate its scarce energy resources on its leaves and stems.

Plants that are not trimmed grow leggy and lose their attractive form and rich foliage. If they continue to become leggy, the plants may require additional sunlight. This is especially prevalent with indoor plants throughout the winter, so give them some trimming if plant gets bushy and out of shape. 

Propagation and Cultivation.

The easiest way to grow favorite coleus plants is to take stem cuttings and root them. Cut about 4 to 6-inch long stem tip with a sharp shearing scissor. Ensure that you cut directly beneath a leaf node on the stem. Remove all of the leaves from the cutting’s bottom half.

After dipping the stem in a rooting hormone compound in a wet potting mix, plant the stem. Place the cutting in a sunny, warm position for two to three weeks or until new roots appear and keep the young plant growing in a bright, warm place. Some of the more uncommon varieties may be hard to root, so take as many cuttings as possible to guarantee that you have enough healthy plants.

Coleus plant

Planting Indoor.

This plant can be grown indoors in a variety of soil types but ensure that you use quality garden soil. The coleus plants are great for indoor planting and for beginners because they do not need much water, sunlight, or fertilizer to grow well.

Fertilizer and Feeding. 

You may not need to regularly feed coleus plants if they were not planted in quality soil. Add a balanced slow-release fertilizer or plant food to your soil if it is deficient. You’ll obtain the most stunning color from your coleus leaves if you properly provide care and adequately feed your plantWater-soluble fertilizer should be applied to container-grown plants once a month. 

Starting a Coleus Plant From Seed.

Most coleus types sold today are hybrids grown from cuttings potted for nursery sale; however, seeds of many kinds may still be found. If you want to plant the coleus in the garden, start the seeds indoors eight to ten weeks before your last frost date.

Growing coleus from seed is simple. Be patient, as it might take 21 days for the seeds to germinate. It will take three to four weeks of warm weather once seedlings emerge for them to grow into fully formed plants.

Spread the small seeds over a tray filled with potting mix, then lightly cover with dirt.

Place the tray in a bright, warm place for two weeks or until seedlings appear; remove the plastic and continue growing the plants in damp soil.

Transplant the seedlings into their own pots with two sets of true leaves, and take care of them until they are ready to be planted outdoors. It is important to harden off seedlings before planting them in the garden.

Planting in Pots and Repotting

In order to grow coleus in a container, choose a large pot that the plant can grow into; otherwise, you’ll be repotting this fast-growing plant before you know it. In colder climes, container plants are occasionally taken indoors to overwinter.

Coleus – Perennial flowering

Frequently Asked Questions

Does coleus like sun or shade?

Coleus is a flowering plant that can grow in either sun or shade. However, they are shade-tolerant and grow best in partial shade. It’s important to note that the leaves will be of different colors depending on the amount of sunlight it receives. The leaves are usually variegated, with different colors on the top and bottom of the leaf.

Is coleus a good houseplant?

This is one of the most popular houseplants, and they can be grown in pots or hanging baskets, and they can be either indoor or outdoor plants. The coleus plant is a good choice if you want to add some color to your home without worrying about watering them too much or too little. They also don’t need any special lighting like other houseplants do, making them an easy plant to take care of.

Some people love keeping coleus in their homes because it has such a wide range of colors. The leaves can be anything from red, orange, yellow, purple to green.

Can coleus come back every year?

This is a perennial plant that usually comes back every year. A perennial plant is a plant that lives for more than two years. Some examples of perennials are roses, lavender, and coleus. Coleus can be grown in almost any climate as long as they are watered and provided with enough nutrients. Remember that this plant prefers light shade or partial shade and moist soil, but they can also be cultivated in dry conditions.

How long do coleus plants live?

Coleus plants typically live for about two years, but some varieties may live for up to three years. They can live in various climates, but they need to be watered regularly and given good sunlight.

Conclusion: Final Thoughts.

Coleus plants are a type of flowering plant that is often used in landscaping and gardening. They are often grown as an annual in cooler climates, but they can also be grown as a perennial if they have enough heat and light.

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