How Long Do Potted Coleus Last?

First discovered on the tropical island of Java in the 1800s, coleus plants, with their brilliantly coloured and patterned foliage, became a huge hit in Victorian gardens and homes, and their popularity continues to the present day. While they are often used as annual bedding plants, coleus are perfect for container planting indoors or outside.

When grown from seed or stem cuttings, coleus plants take a couple of months to grow to full size. While potted coleus plants may start to bloom in late summer, it’s recommended to cut off the flowers as soon as they appear. Otherwise, they will set seed and die.

How to Care for Potted Coleus?

  1. Plant coleus in loose, well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter such as well-rotted compost.
  2. Water regularly to maintain consistently moist but never soaking wet soil.
  3. Most coleus varieties grow best in full or partial shade, so find a spot with only morning or late-afternoon sun.
  4. If you are growing potted coleus as a houseplant, keep it away from drafts and furnace vents, in bright, indirect light.

Can Coleus Survive the Winter in Pots?

Because coleus plants are native to tropical south Pacific islands, they have no cold hardiness whatsoever. If you are growing your potted coleus plants outdoors, either bring the plants in to overwinter, or take cuttings to root for next year’s container plantings.

Potted Coleus Temperature Tolerance?

Coleus plants are tropical natives, and will not tolerate temperatures any lower than 33°F (1°C), and even then just for very brief periods. They will grow best above 60°F (15°C), and really hot summer weather will let them thrive.

Do Potted Coleus Come Back Each Year?

Potted coleus will last for several years when they are prevented from flowering and protected from cold winter temperatures. Indoors in winter, the plants will slow their growth and become dormant, but still maintain their gorgeous foliage that makes them so desirable.

One of the easiest ways to ensure lots of healthy coleus plants for your patio containers next year is by taking several cuttings from each plant in late summer. They will root and grow to a full size for planting out the following spring when warm weather returns.

When Should You Plant Coleus in a Pot?

If you start your coleus plants from seed, plan to do so about 8 to 10 weeks before your last frost date. Start them in a tray filled with a sterile growing medium, moving them to individual pots when they’ve formed their first 2 true leaves.

Cuttings can be rooted in small pots or water. If you use the water method, pot them up when they have formed roots.

Use a rich, well-draining potting soil, in a pot with good drainage holes.

How Long Do Potted Coleus Take to Grow?

Once your coleus seeds have sprouted, or the cuttings have formed roots, they will quickly grow to their full size. That size depends on the variety you’re growing; taller ones can grow as high as 3 feet (1 metre).

How to Use Coleus Plants in Containers?

Tall varieties of coleus are a perfect choice for the “thriller” in a patio or porch container planting. Smaller varieties are great “fillers”, while trailing coleus plants can be used as “spillers”.

How Long Will Potted Coleus Last Inside?

An indoor potted coleus can live for 3 or 4 years with good growing conditions. This means setting them in a spot with bright but indirect light, warm temperatures, and relatively high humidity.

Water them whenever the top inch or so of the soil is dry, but never let them sit in water, as that will lead to root rot.

Feed them with a liquid fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength once or twice a month during spring and summer, tapering back in the fall and stopping entirely in the winter.

Cut out the flower stalks as soon as they form to prevent the plants from setting seed and dying. Prune the foliage in early spring to encourage more bushy growth.

Final Thoughts

Tropical plants such as coleus are some of the stars of container gardening, whether indoors or outside. Because they’re so easy to grow from seed or cuttings, you can keep a steady supply of these colourful foliage plants for your potted garden.

See how long other potted plants last: