How to Successfully Grow Coleus as a Houseplant

Updated on October 24, 2019
Casey White profile image

Dorothy is a Master Gardener, former newspaper reporter, and the author of several books. Michael is a landscape/nature photographer in NM.

Coleus, a great, attention-getting plant indoors, as well as outdoors.
Coleus, a great, attention-getting plant indoors, as well as outdoors. | Source

Coleus Makes a Magnificent Houseplant

Although usually planted outdoors, with proper light and food, a coleus plant can make a great addition to your collection of house plants. Start with a beautiful, healthy coleus plant and care for it properly, and you will be rewarded for your efforts with a magnificent house plant.

Here's What You Will Need

  • Small coleus plant
  • Commercial potting soil
  • Planter pot that drains
  • Commercial house plant fertilizer (diluted)

I am going to assume you have just returned from a local nursery and have a young coleus seedling that is ready to be put in a nice, attractive planter.

How to Plant an Indoor Coleus

  1. First, use a light, well-draining potting soil (you can't go wrong with Miracle Gro®) in your pot. Put your little seedling in the pot and cover the roots with potting soil. At this point, you are looking at a rather dull-looking seedling wondering if I really know what I'm talking about. But, please don't underestimate this tiny little plant, which can grow and fill out a pot very nicely with some absolutely stunning foliage.
  2. The intensity of the light your plant receives on a regular basis will determine the intensity of the foliage color, so place your new plant in a south window for several hours of bright sunshine daily, and although they will adapt to somewhat lower temperatures, they will be at their best at around 75-80 degrees with moist (NOT soggy) soil. If you are fortunate enough to have a fluorescent grow light, by all means, use it for your coleus. The colors will become even more vibrant.
  3. Feed your coleus house plant once a month with a liquid houseplant fertilizer, but dilute it to about 40-50% water.
  4. Flower buds must be pinched off immediately because you don't want your coleus plant to go to seed. Once it goes to seed, it dies. Just keep pinching off the flower buds and your plant will thrive.
  5. If your plant becomes too leggy, pinching it off will help in that regard as well. A coleus plant is grown for its foliage and not for its flowers, so get them out of there quickly. When tips are pinched off, the plant diverts its energy to the sides making your plant full, bushy and gorgeous. Coleus plants are durable; cut them back almost to soil level if they start looking too leggy.

Overwhelming Choices

There are an endless variety of coleus plants available. The choices can become overwhelming with different colors, sizes and leaf shapes. But you are certain to find some different ones that you are going to love.

You Don't Buy Coleus for the Flowers

Coleus plants are bought for the foliage, so if any flowers appear, pinch them off. Keep your plants pinched back so they stay bushy rather than leggy, for a more gorgeous display.

Coleus can be a mixture of bright, brighter and brightest!  Beautiful as a houseplant.
Coleus can be a mixture of bright, brighter and brightest! Beautiful as a houseplant.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Coleus even makes surrounding foliage look better.  Coleus can be placed in a container with many other plants, and the result is beautiful.
Coleus even makes surrounding foliage look better.
Coleus even makes surrounding foliage look better. | Source
Coleus can be placed in a container with many other plants, and the result is beautiful.
Coleus can be placed in a container with many other plants, and the result is beautiful. | Source

Super Video About Why You Will Love a Coleus Plant

Do you consider Coleus to be a plant for outside, or a houseplant?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • How deep and far apart do I plant the Coleus seeds?

    Coleus seeds barely need to be covered with potting soil, so just sow them on top of the soil, then just lightly put some soil over them. If you want your coleus to be thick, which I think is the best, sow them about a half an inch apart. If it looks like they are growing too close together, you can simply transplant some of them to another location, but I have always had good luck planting them pretty close together.

© 2011 Mike and Dorothy McKenney


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Graham Everson 

      6 months ago

      My plant has developed brown leathery patches. Please help,Thanks

    • Casey White profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 

      22 months ago from United States

      I believe you did the right thing. Coleus can make great houseplants, and in the spring (if you choose), you can put them back out in the yard. The only other alternative would have been to cut them back all the way to the ground and leave them to re-emerge in the spring.

    • profile image

      Deb love 

      22 months ago

      I just took my colesus out of ground, It was getting to cold 40°. I put them in pots and bought them in the house.The purple one I have it seem like the leaves were closing up wilpping curling up don’t know if it’s in shock. But I’ve been keeping my eye on it. The green one some are curling up. I actually saved these plants from the store throwing them away. I bought them home during the Spring. When the fall and winter comes through I couldn’t stand to see my plants get frozen. Did I do the right thing by bringing them inside. Deb Love ❤️

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Got a potted coleus from a florist; although it's gone through some trauma (there was a squirrel encounter prior to the plant being moved indoors), it's bounced back wonderfully. That said, it flowered indoors this year, and it's doing just fine--growing a little too vigorously, in fact, that I can't keep up with all the cuttings. So, flowering = death might depend on the variety?

    • Casey White profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 

      2 years ago from United States

      There are so many different types of coleus, sometimes it's hard to choose just one. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Surendra Sharma 

      2 years ago

      Very educative . Wish to have more varieties

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very nice,a great plat...Im waad,from Iraq,I have this plant,but it still green colour.My question is...

      How can I get different colour?

      Please .e-mail me.

    • profile image

      The Dirt Farmer 

      9 years ago

      I just love coleus but never thought about using it indoors. Thanks for the great idea--and the care instructions.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)