Coleus Plant Features
Add bold color to sunny or shady spots with the jewel-toned foliage of coleus. Once thought of as only a shade plant, newer varieties of coleus are now available in a rainbow of colors that can thrive in full sun. Coleus are also super easy to grow. Just give them some slightly moist soil and stand back! You can almost hear them growing taller every day. The plants grow between 12 and 24 inches tall. Coleus come in a myriad selection of colors, bi-colors, and mixed patterns so you won't have any trouble finding one or two in your favorite shade. Just be sure to read the label so you know if the variety you select prefers a sunny or shady site. Coleus also produce spikes of small blue flowers in the late summer that attract butterflies.
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Coleus Growing Instructions
Light: Different coleus varieties have varying light needs, so check the plant tag or dig into our Our Favorite Varieties section below. Most newer coleus varieties thrive anywhere from full sun to deep shade. Older coleus varieties may only thrive in a shaded spot, however, and can experience unsightly sunburn (bleaching of the leaf colors) when grown in all-day sun.
Water: Coleus isn't particularly drought tolerant, so water as the top inch or two of the soil dries to the touch. You'll notice the plant quickly wilts when it dries out too much. Happily, it recovers just as quickly when watered.
Soil: Like many annuals, coleus grows best in moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. It tolerates clay soils fairly well, though benefits if you mix plenty of compost in before planting. If you are growing coleus in container gardens use a high-quality potting mix formulated for potted plants.
Pruning: Coleus grows fast when it's happy, so don't be afraid to pinch off the top inch or two of new growth from the plants if they start to grow tall and leggy. This encourages the plant to remain full and bushy. In late summer many some coleus varieties develop flower spikes. Just clip them off if you want a more tidy look.
Fertilizing: In most soil types, coleus doesn't require fertilizer, but if you'd like it to grow faster and lusher, you can fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer. Follow the directions on the product packaging for application rates; each product is different.
Get tips for saving coleus over winter.
Coleus is not recommended for human or animal consumption.
If you have a spot with high light in your home, you may want to grow coleus as a houseplant. In bright spots indoors, it keeps its colorful leaves all year long. Like most houseplants, it's best to water when the top inch or so of the potting mix dries to the touch. Pinch it back as necessary to keep it looking full and attractive, and fertilize in spring and/or summer with a general-purpose product labeled for use on houseplants.
Outside: Part sun
Green, Orange, Pink, Red, Variegated, White, Yellow
Moist, well-drained soil
Super-easy to grow
Complement your Coleus with these varieties:
New Guinea Impatiens pair well with shade loving Coleus varieties.
Sun-loving Coleus varieties and SunPatiens Impatiens are a great team.
Begonia works well with all types of Coleus in pots, planters, or borders.
Varieties: Our Favorites
Plectranthus 'Burgundy Wedding Train'
One of the best trailing coleus varieties around, Burgundy Wedding Train features green leaves with burgundy-purple centers. Use it as a groundcover or spiller in hanging baskets and window boxes. It grows 14 inches tall and 24 inches wide.
A coleus for sun or shade, Campfire bears bright reddish-orange foliage. It's been a top plant in our Trial Gardens! Campfire coleus grows 3 feet tall and wide.
Plectranthus 'FlameThrower Chili Pepper'
FlameThrower Chili Pepper is a newer variety that stays shorter and more compact than older varieties. It also tolerates full sun. FlameThrower Chili Pepper grows 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide.
Plectranthus 'FlameThrower Chipotle'
Perfect in sun or shade, FlameThrower Chipotle coleus offers chartreuse leaves marked with dark burgundy purple. It's as eye catching as it is easy to grow! FlameThrower Chipotle coleus gets 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide.
Plectranthus 'FlameThrower Spiced Curry'
FlameThrower Spiced Curry is a distinctive coleus that thrives in sun or shade, has golden-yellow foliage accented with purple markings, and stays shorter than older varieties. It grows only 24 inches tall and wide.
Plectranthus 'Lime Time'
Lime Time coleus was a top variety in our Florida gardens, showing off bright chartreuse-green foliage both in sun and shade. It grows 36 inches tall and wide.
Plectranthus 'MainStreet Broadway'
MainStreet Broadway coleus is an easy-care, sun-tolerant variety that features bold reddish-purple leaves that are edged in golden yellow. It grows 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
Plectranthus 'MainStreet Sunset Boulevard'
MainStreet Sunset Boulevard lives up to its name: Its colorful leaves feature warm shades of orange and pink. It grows 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide.
Plectranthus 'MainStreet Wall Street'
Brightly colored orange-red leaves on strong, dense stems make ‘MainStreet Wall Street’ coleus a top pick for your garden. For best color, plant it in partial sun or shade.
A cinch to grow in sun or shade, Redhead coleus offers rich red-purple foliage and a practically indestructible nature! Reaching 36 inches tall and wide, it adds bold color to landscapes and containers.
Plectranthus 'Stained Glassworks Luminesce'
Stained Glassworks Luminesce is a delightful coleus that has hot pink foliage with dark green accents. It's been a top performer in our Trial Garden. Stained Glassworks Luminesce grows 18 inches tall and wide and thrives in sun or shade.
Plectranthus 'Trusty Rusty'
As reliable as it is gorgeous, ‘Trusty Rusty’ coleus has rich copper-colored leaves boldly edged with golden margins. The plant grows 18 inches tall and does best in partial shade. Include ‘Trusty Rusty’ in your landscape or container garden this year.
Rich, chartreuse foliage is what makes ‘Wasabi’ coleus one of the most popular varieties on the planet. It’s super easy to grow and rarely flowers so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the show. ‘Wasabi’ grows 18-30 inches tall and does best in partial sun but tolerates full sun if it has enough moisture.