Growing Coleus Plants Indoor and Outside Gardens

Coleus is one of the easiest plants to grow, whether for an indoor garden or outside.  Many gardeners began growing with coleus and went on to collect them because of the more and more leaf color combinations and plant sizes discovered.

Coleus plants are more often grown for their leaves rather than for the nondescript flowers.  Although they can be grown from seed, coleus plants are easily found in the spring at local garden centers, a very economical plant idea.

Growing Coleus Plants Indoor and Outside Gardens

Photo courtesy of ellenm1

How to Grow Coleus Outside

Coleus was first popular for its ability to grow in shade gardens.  Today, many coleus varieties are labeled as sun plants.  However, this can be misleading as full sun means a 6 – 8 hour span of time in the strongest outdoor light, this type of location would wash out most coleus colors and burn the plant’s leaves.  To grow sun coleus outside, consider part sun or part shade locations and avoid hot afternoon sun.

Coleus plants mix well with other shady annual plants such as impatiens and wax begonias. Very tall coleus varieties can be a focal point in the garden or a collection at the back of a planting bed.

Indoor Garden Coleus Collections

A person who wishes to start out gardening indoors will find a coleus plant a good choice.  First, determine the light exposure available inside the home.  Second, choose a coleus plant that fits that location.

Shade coleus will tolerate indoor light on the east or north side of the building where no curtain is between the plant and the window.  Stronger sunnier windows should have a sheer curtain or blinds shielding the plants during the hottest times of the day.

Sun coleus withstand stronger light.   However, determining plant tolerance and light exposure can take gardeners some trial and error especially when new at gardening. If coleus leaves start to brown at the tips or leaf colors fade, this could indicate the light is too strong.

More Coleus Plants

Propagating coleus plants is easy, which is another reason why gardeners love them.  To make more coleus plants, take cuttings, then root the stems in light soil or water.

This time of year, coleus plants are found at local garden centers in multi-packs.  This is an economical way to start a garden outside or indoors.

About Chris Eirschele

Chris Eirschele has written 8 posts in this blog.

Chris writes on plants grown, gardens explored and pathways traveled. She has a horticultural background and was an university extension Master Gardener in Wisconsin. Her muse is now found in the desert southwest and at her bloggy place called Stay Gardening. To see a collection of her work in one place, .



  1. says

    The very first plant I ever grew from a cutting was a coleus. My grandmother taught me to root cuttings when I was 4. I still love them, and have traded for quite a few really nice varieties online. I’m not a collector, but I love the trailing ones and I could easily get crazy with collecting them.

  2. Paul Zelakiewicz says

    Last spring I planted some coleus in a small garden at a summer cottage. in the fall I just left them outside. Now i went to re-open the cottage a found the plants appear to be dead. Should I just cut back what look like dead stalks? Will these come back again this year

  3. says

    Coleus, or botanically now called Solenostemon scutellarioides, is an annual plant in most places in the United States. This is the reason many gardeners take cuttings to save them over winter.
    But, in the realm of other annual plants like geraniums or begonias, many summer residents will just replace them in an outside garden after all danger of spring frosts is gone.
    You do not say where your cottage is. Coleus are a good summer choice under a tall canopy of upnorth woods. But, I would ask, is it indeed warm enough to plant coleus outside now? They are warm season plants and even a light nighttime frost late in the season will turn coleus leaves ugly.
    Thank you for stopping by Untrained Housewife.
    Chris Eirschele

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