Small houseplants called coleus are almost entirely grown for their striking, vivid foliage. Unbeknownst to most, coleus plants are actually members of the Lamiaceae or mintfamily, and its leaves can occasionally be utilized for medical purposes, much like peppermint (though they are not particularly tasty).
Native to Asia and Australia, coleus plants have a wide range of colored leaves that come in tones of green, pink, white, cream, yellow, maroon, and purple. Around one and a half months before to the final frost, the plant is frequently planted from seed. It will develop fairly quickly, frequently growing to a mature, robust size in about six to nine months. Both novice and professional gardeners use them as houseplants because of their distinctive appearance and simplicity of maintenance.
A coleus plant can it survive indoors?
Can coleus be grown indoors? Indeed, why not? Although coleus is generally planted outside as an annual, if growth circumstances are ideal, its colorful leaves can be enjoyed indoors for many months. In actuality, coleus plants thrive in potted settings.
How much time can coleus spend indoors?
A coleus plant typically lives for one year. However, if they are properly cared for indoors, they can live considerably longer. If given the necessary care, which includes adequate watering, sunlight, the right soil, and the right plant food to keep it green and healthy, indoor plants can often live for three to four years. Coleus plants kept indoors could survive a little bit longer than other houseplants.
Can coleus withstand the winter inside?
My coleuses are at their best and most vibrant toward the end of the summer. Seeing them perish after the first frost is incredibly difficult for me. One of the simpler annuals to overwinter is coleuses. Rather than their blooms, they are more well-known for the color and variegation of their leaves. They may be cultivated in both shade and sunlight and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. With so many kinds offered, you can expand your collection without having to buy anything new every year.
You can try a few different techniques to overwinter a coleus. Pinch off longer sections of the stem for cuttings as your coleus grows later in the summer, leaving two leaves at the base for future growth. You can pinch back plants up to one-third of their height. This will stop the plant from growing rambunctiously and will urge it to grow big and powerful. To get the cuttings to start roots, put them in a vase of water. By the fall, pot up the plants for the winter once they have roots.
Moving the entire pot indoors before the first frost is another option. Check the plants for pests, give them a hose-down, and be sure to wash the underside of the leaves before bringing them inside. Put there or place beneath a grow lamp. Continue keeping an eye out for insects and use insecticidal soap as necessary.
Coleus will lose its color in the winter. The indoor plant you brought will shed a few leaves and become ungainly. As tempting as it may be, resist the urge to pinch back the plant because it is about to go into dormancy at this time of year. At this point, the objective is to keep it alive by watering it and keeping an eye out for insects. Coleus will start to produce new leaves as the amount of daylight increases.
Prepare 4 pots with potting soil on planting trays in March or April. Insert stems in the dirt, pinch off the top few leaves, and then thoroughly water. You can insert the stems of the cuttings directly into the soil at this time of year instead of putting them in water, and the plant will root in the potting soil. Place in a window with natural light or under a grow lamp, and moisten the soil occasionally but not excessively. The new plant will adapt in a few weeks, and you’ll quickly notice new leaves and color.
By the time they are prepared for planting in May, plants may have doubled in size, depending on the type. Take the plant trays outside on warm spring days and bring them inside at night to harden off the plants before planting them outside. To prepare the plants for the growing season, do this for one to two weeks.
Even though it takes some work to overwinter coleuses, you will always have a selection of coleuses to plant in the spring. Share with your loved ones if you receive an excessive amount.
How are potted coleus maintained?
If the top inch of the soil around the coleus in the pot is dry, water it. Even though container plants dry up more rapidly than plants grown outdoors in the ground, you should still make it a point to examine the soil and water the plant as needed.
How do I get coleus started inside?
Coleus can be produced from potted plants or from seeds that are started early indoors and moved outside after a frost.
Indoor Seed Sowing
- Using a seed starting kit, sow indoors six to eight weeks before the final frost.
- With fine seed starting soil, the sower covers the seed shallowly and softly.
- At 65 to 85 degrees, keep the soil moist. Bottom heat can be advantageous for coleus.
- Plants sprout after 12 to 21 days.
- As soon as seedlings appear, give them lots of light on a sunny windowsill or grow them 3–4 inches beneath 16–hour-per-day fluorescent plant lights that are off for eight hours at night. As the plants get taller, turn up the lights. Because they will become too hot, incandescent bulbs will not function in this process. Do not leave lights on continuously for 24 hours; most plants need a time of darkness to flourish.
- when they have two sets of leaves, thin to one seedling per cell.
- Seedlings don’t require a lot of fertilizer; feed them when they are 3–4 weeks old with a starter solution (half the strength of an indoor plant food), as directed by the manufacturer.
- After the first frost, transplant hardened-off seedlings into the garden.
- Seedling plants must be “hardened off” before being planted in the garden. By relocating young plants to a protected area outside for a week, you can acclimate them to outside circumstances. At first, be sure to shield them from the wind and the light. If frost is expected at night, cover or bring pots inside; then, in the morning, reintroduce them to the outdoors. The plant’s cell structure is toughened during the hardening off process, which also lessens transplant shock and scorching.
In the Garden, Plant Potted Plants:
- Choose a site with good, thick, well-drained organic soil that is protected from the wind and full to partial shade.
- Turn the soil under to a depth of 8 inches to prepare the bed. To get rid of grass and stone clumps, level the area using a rake.
- The majority of plants do well in soils that have had organic matter added. Compost is a beautiful organic material that can be applied to your planting area whenever you like. It has the perfect pH level and nutrient balance. If compost is not available, topdress the soil with 1-2 inches of organic mulch after planting; this mulch will break down into compost over time. Following the growth season, a soil test will reveal what soil amendments are required.
- In the garden, plants should be spaced 12 inches apart.
- For each plant, create a hole that is sufficiently large to hold the root ball.
- positioned level with the dirt around it. Up to the top of the root ball, cover with soil. Your hand should firmly push the earth down, leaving a small depression to hold water around the plant.
- Water deeply until a puddle appears in the saucer you have made. As a result, there is strong root-to-soil contact and the plants become established.
- Use the plant tag to indicate its location.
How to Grow
- Keep weeds under control while the plants are growing. Weeds compete with plants for water, space, and nutrients, therefore keep them in check by frequently cultivating or by using a mulch to stop the germination of their seeds.
- Mulches also support stable soil temperatures and moisture retention. Shredded leaves used as an organic mulch for annual plants give the bed a more natural appearance and, as they decompose over time, enrich the soil. Mulches should never be placed on a plant’s stems to avoid potential decay.
- During the growing season, make sure plants are well-watered, especially during dry spells. The growing season requires roughly 1 inch of rain every week for plants. To determine whether you need to add water, use a rain gauge. The optimum irrigation method is a drip or trickling system that releases water at low pressure directly into the soil. To reduce disease issues, water early in the day if you want to use overhead sprinklers so the foliage has time to dry before dusk. Maintain a moist but not saturated soil.
- Some protection from strong winds and intense sunlight may be required until plants grow established. Additionally essential is good airflow.
- A mild fertilizer can be administered after new growth starts to show. To prevent burn damage, keep granular fertilizers away from the plant’s top and leaves. Use moderate amounts of a slow-release fertilizer because greater amounts could promote root rots.
- Flower stalks should be removed before they blossom as they may ruin the foliage show.
- To maintain plants’ compact, bushy habits, pinch stem tips right above a pair of leaves.
- Observe for illnesses and pests. For advice on pest management measures that are suitable for your area, contact your cooperative extension service.
- In order to prevent disease problems the next year, remove plants that have been killed by frost in the fall.
- Coleus also grows beautifully inside. Prior to the last frost, bring smaller plants indoors.
- Growing Coleus plants from cuttings is quite simple. Select a stem tip that appears vigorous, then trim off a 3–4 inch portion right below a leaf joint. Remove the lowest set of leaves, then place the cuttings in a glass of water with the stem submerged and the leaves resting on the edge of the glass. In a week or two, roots ought to start to show. Prior to transplanting, give the roots time to spread out. Make sure the stem is submerged in the water every day, and replace it with fresh water every few days.
- In somewhat shaded settings, coleus grows well in window boxes, pots, hanging baskets, and patio containers. The best plants to grow for kids are mature ones.
Common Disease Problems
One of the most frequent issues when beginning plants from seed is damping off. The seedling appears healthy when it first emerges, but then it mysteriously begins to droop and die. A fungus that causes damping off is active when there is a lot of moisture present when the soil, air, and temperature are above 68 degrees F. This typically means that the soil is either too moist or heavily fertilized with nitrogen. Burpee advises keeping seedlings moist but not overwatering them, avoiding overfertilizing them, thinnng out seedlings to prevent overcrowding, ensuring the plants have good air circulation, and if you are planting in containers, washing them thoroughly in soapy water and rinsing them in a 10% bleach solution after use.
Downy Mildew is a fungus that eventually affects both sides of the leaves, causing pale gray areas on their undersides. Burpee Don’t plant in the same spot for a number of years, it is advised. Avoid watering from above. Don’t overcrowd plants and make sure there is enough air movement. When plants are damp, stay away from them.
When the weather is humid, a fungus illness known as powdery mildew develops on the tops of the leaves. The surface of the leaves seems to be white or grayish, and they may curl. Burpee advises giving the plants adequate air circulation through optimum spacing and pruning in order to prevent powdery mildew. For advice on fungicides, get in touch with local cooperative extension service.
Small, worm-like pests called root knot nematodes are responsible for the growth of galls (swellings) on roots. Plants could falter or seem stunted. In many Southern states, this is a major issue. Burpee It is advised not to plant in contaminated soil. cultivate resilient varieties. Try surrounding your plants with “Nema-Gone” marigolds.
Root Rots: Both mature roots and seedlings can develop root rots, which are caused by several pathogens. Burpee advises using crop rotation and avoiding planting closely related crops in the same location for an extended period of time. Grasp and throw away infested plants. Ensure that your soil drains well. For advice, get in touch with your local Cooperative Extension Service.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids are disease-carrying sucking insects that feed on the undersides of leaves and can be green, red, black, or peach in color. On the foliage, they deposit a sticky substance that draws ants. Burpee advises attracting or introducing aphid-eating predators like lady beetles and wasps into your garden. You can also use an insecticidal soap or a powerful spray to wash them away.
Mealybugs: Mealybugs are flat, wingless insects that range in length from 1/8 to 1/4 inch. They excrete a white powder that hardens into a protective waxy shell. They accumulate in masses that resemble cotton on stems, branches, and leaves. They hinder growth by sucking up liquids from stems and leaves. Additionally, the honeydew they exude, which can potentially develop a black sooty mold, attracts ants. Burpee advises washing the damaged plant parts and making an effort to rub the insects off. Predator insects including lacewings, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps can also control them. For advice on which pesticides to use, contact your cooperative extension service.
Slugs: These pesky insects consume entire leaves or leave big holes in the vegetation. They feed at night, leaving a slime trail, and are especially problematic in wet weather. Burpee’s Advice Hand select, ideally at night. You can try using cornmeal or beer to lure the slugs into traps. Create a hole in the ground and fill it with a huge cup or bowl to serve as a beer trap. Make sure the object has steep sides so that the slugs can’t escape once they’ve finished. Beer should be poured into the bowl until it is about 3/4 full. The basin should be filled with drowned slugs by morning so that they may be emptied outside for the birds to consume. Put a spoonful or two of cornmeal in a jar and place it on its side close to the plants to create a cornmeal trap. Slugs are drawn to the smell, but since they are unable to digest it, it will kill them. Diatomaceous earth or even coffee grounds can be used to create a barrier around your plants. They are too big to crawl over these.
Spider mites: These minuscule insects, which resemble spiders, are approximately the size of a peppercorn. They can be yellow, brown, black, red, or black. They ingest plant liquids, sucking out chlorophyll and injecting poisons that leave the foliage with white spots. On the plant, webbing is frequently seen. They cause the leaf to stipple, dry, and become yellow. They proliferate swiftly and do best in dry environments. Burpee’s Advice Every other day, a strong spray can help control spider mites. Try using insecticidal soap or hot pepper wax. For advice on miticides, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service.
Sunscald: Leaves become bleached, withered, and frequently turn white with crisp, brown edges. Pests and illnesses are not present. Typically, plants had just been relocated. The sun’s intense light and heat degrade chlorophyll, which causes the leaf to wither and die. Burpee advises moving coleus to a location with more afternoon shade. Coleus shouldn’t be planted in a south or south-west exposure.
Can you explain why my coleus abruptly lost all of its leaves? Cold and frost are especially harsh on coleus. Planting outside should wait until all threat of frost has passed.
Can I keep a coleus indoors over the winter? Yes, place it near a window that gets morning light. When first transported, it frequently sheds leaves as is expected. If you see that the edges of the leaves are becoming brown, low humidity is likely to blame. Put the pots on a tray filled with wet pebbles.
Should I be concerned that my coleus, whose leaves are currently only green, has just begun to spout? The fact that immature leaves are only green is typical. The color will intensify once the plant is outside and in shade.
The sun is coleus tolerant? Because it prefers shade, coleus can wilt and get sunscald in direct sunlight. In the wild, coleus grows in the understory. Sunlight in the morning and protection from the afternoon sun are good.
Why do I need to remove the flowers? With the vibrant foliage, the blooms are frequently regarded as ugly because they draw vigor from the plant. But you can keep the flowers if you want them; just deadhead them to prevent them from going to seed.