Plants are always a wonderful decoration in anyone’s home, and they’re useful, as well – as they provide oxygen and give a fresher feel to your home. However, it’s necessary to know how to take care of a plant if you want to enjoy a successful life of the plant. Coleus plants are very popular plants all around the world, however, taking care of one isn’t just instinctive and you really need to know what you’re doing in order to keep the plant safe and healthy. So, how to take care of a coleus plant?
Coleus plants don’t like damp soil, and they detest low temperatures so you should only plant one after the danger of freezing has passed and the temperatures are exceeding 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You should feed your plants regularly with a water-soluble fertilizer and it’s a big plus to grow them in containers.
To help you care for your plant more efficiently, we’ve assembled this guide that’s covering all the important topics and lessons you need to learn to care for a coleus plant properly. Stick with us if you want to learn how long do coleus plants live, how often should you water a coleus plant, do they prefer sun or shade, and what can cause leaves to fall off.
Let’s get started!
How Long Do Coleus Plants Live?
The answer to this question depends largely on the environment surrounding the plant.
If you’re living in a frost-free area, you can expect your coleus to live for several years. If the winter is mild enough, you can freely plant your coleus in the ground, as they appreciate moist soil that drains well.
If you live in an area that’s witnessing cold winters, the coleus won’t last more than a single winter, as they’re tropical plants that can’t stand temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You should plant it in a container that is in a shady or partly shady area – and treat it as a beautiful spring-through-fall annual. It will blacken and die very quickly from the cold.
If you’re keeping your plant indoors, then you’re certainly going to witness it live through the winter. Make sure to position it near a bright window, far away from any drafts and heat sources. This is actually the best environment to have your plant in.
How Often Should You Water Your Coleus Plant?
This once again depends on where you’re keeping the plant and what’s the climate like.
If you’re keeping the plant outside, you should water it twice a day during the hot months. They really don’t tolerate drought, so you have to make sure that they’re not thirsty. However, they don’t appreciate soggy soil either, so you have to make sure that you don’t overwater it, as well.
If you’re keeping your plant inside, though, you’ll need to water it every two to three days. However, if the air in your home is especially dry, then you should water it more often.
Do Coleus Plants Like Sun or Shade?
Most coleus plants prefer indirect sunlight, so you should keep it in the day during the Sun’s busiest hours. However, if you feel like it, you can take it to a sunny spot in the morning hours and let it bask in the sunlight. That definitely won’t hurt the plant, and it can only help with photosynthesis.
Why Are Leaves Falling Off My Coleus Plant?
There are three most common reasons for leaves falling off a coleus plant.
Firstly, a drought. If you’re not watering your plant enough, you’re basically dehydrating it and the leaves are going to start falling off pretty quickly. You can actually draw a parallel with humans in this regard, as hair loss is a common symptom of vitamin and mineral deficiency. If your body isn’t fed well enough, it’ll become unhealthy and you’ll start witnessing hair loss. The same principle applies to plants.
Secondly, cold. Cold is the most common killer of coleus plants, as they’re tropical and can’t stand low temperatures. A coleus plant won’t last more than a few days in the cold, and the leaves will quickly start to blacken and fall off.
Lastly, a draft. If the coleus is facing too much of a cold draught, then you should move it to a place where it will feel more comfortable.
Tips for Caring About Your Coleus Plant
Coleus plants are actually considered to be great plants for beginners because they require very little caring.
Coleus plants grow very well in containers because they prefer the loose texture of potting soil to ground soil, which is denser. You should always use a high-quality mix when potting, and always make sure that your pot has good drainage in order to help prevent root rot. Keep an eye on the pH level of the soil, as coleus plants thrive best in soil that is neutral to acidic – so something between 6 and 7 is what you’re looking for.
We’ve talked a lot about temperature, and that’s something you absolutely have to keep in mind when you’re taking care of coleus. Cold weather and cold soil are two things these plants do not tolerate very well, and they’re bound to kill them. 70 degrees and above is a green light for taking your coleus outside, but you should keep it inside before then. If you notice your coleus’s leaves blackening, make sure to take it back inside until the temperatures are high enough.
Coleus plants must be kept in warm rooms, and you should never put them in the direct path of a draft (in front of your AC, for example). Buy a humidifier if your winters get dry.
You will also need to fertilize your plant regularly and feed it this way. When you’re just starting to pot, mix a slow-release fertilizer with the soil in the container. They need regular feeding, just like all the plants with colorful foliage. While the plant is growing, you should feed it with a diluted liquid fertilizer every week or two. The nutrients you feed it with are usually going to be washed away very quickly because of the frequent watering, so you’ll need to feed it regularly.
You will also need to prune your coleus plant, as coleus plants can become unattractive without regular pruning. However, if you prune your plant regularly, it will develop a nice bush and will look quite full. You should cut down the tops of plants that grow too tall to encourage outward growth, which will also have an effect on the foliage – it will become denser.
If the plant sees too little sunlight, that can result in “legginess” – move the container to a spot that receives a little more sunlight. Coleus plants that grow indoors during winter months are more prone to this, so take special care during that time.
To propagate your coleus plant, cut several sprigs from your favorite mature plant. A good, mature sprig contains several healthy leaves. Each cutting should be placed in a clear glass vase or jar filled with water – make sure to pluck leaves that fall below water level. A bright, warm area should host the vases, which will allow the cuttings to root themselves. You’ll notice that roots appear within a few days, and they develop into a thick mass within a month or two.
The roots will consume the water, and it will also evaporate, so you have to make sure that the vases are always filled. Replace the water once it gets brown.
When you see that the roots have formed a tangled mass, you can safely plant them in potting soil. They’ll need a lot of light, be it artificial or natural. You should know, though, that some varieties of coleus root more easily than others. More exotic varieties, for example, ones with unusual leaves may resist the propagation, so you may need to fight these ones a little bit more.
When talking pests, groundhogs and young rabbits are your largest problem if you’re keeping your plant outside. These plants are usually unbothered by pests if they’re not facing winter, but you may see some mildew during that period. If you’re keeping the plant inside, though, then you may notice scales, whiteflies, and mealybugs – but these can all be taken care of.
However, coleus plants are generally known as pretty strong and resistant plants when it comes to dealing with pests.