Coleus (Flame Nettle) - Expert tips
In this article
- How to care for Coleus (Flame Nettle) - Expert tips for thriving plants
- Coleus care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully
- Coleus care tips
- Light requirements for Coleus
- Temperature & humidity
- Soil & repotting
- Propagating Coleus
- Most common pests on Coleus
- Is Coleus poisonous for your pets or children?
- Buy your new Coleus online at PLNTS.com
How to care for Coleus (Flame Nettle) - Expert tips for thriving plants
Coleus is a popular houseplant known for its vibrant and colorful foliage. It’s commonly known by several nicknames including ‘flame nettle’, ‘painted nettle’ and ‘flame leaf plant’. This beautiful plant is native to Southeast Asia and is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is commonly found in countries like India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. These plants have been cultivated for centuries, primarily because of their pretty foliage.
Coleus plants are appreciated for their striking leaves, which come in a wide range of colors and patterns. The leaves can be various shades of green, red, pink, purple, yellow, or orange, often with intricate patterns and variegations. We totally get why this plant is a must-have for every urban jungle!
Fun fact! Coleus plants have the ability to change leaf colors and patterns depending on the amount of light it receive. In low-light conditions, the leaves may become less colorful and more green, while in bright, indirect light, they can display their most vibrant and intricate colors and patterns.
Coleus care: 10 expert tips for growing it successfully
- Coleus thrives in bright, indirect light. Avoid exposing them to harsh, direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves.
- Plant your Coleus in well-draining potting soil that's rich in organic matter. A mixture of potting soil and perlite or sand can help ensure good drainage.
- Coleus prefers higher humidity levels. You can increase humidity around the plant by misting the leaves or using a humidity tray with water and pebbles placed near the plant.
- Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Coleus is sensitive to drought, so don't let the soil dry out completely.
- Use a balanced fertilizer during the growing season (spring through early autumn). Reduce or eliminate feeding during the winter months.
- Pinch back the growing tips regularly to encourage bushier growth and prevent legginess. Pruning can also help maintain the plant's shape and remove any leggy or yellowing growth.
- Coleus can attract common houseplant pests like aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Inspect your plant regularly, and if you notice any pests, treat the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
- Choose an appropriately sized container that allows for good drainage and root development. Repot your Coleus if it becomes root-bound.
- Keep your Coleus in a warm environment, as they prefer temperatures between 15°C to 24°C. Avoid exposing them to temperatures below 10°C.
- Coleus is sensitive to cold temperatures. Keep it in a well-lit, warm area and reduce watering, as it may not require as much moisture during the winter months.
Coleus care tips
Light requirements for Coleus
Coleus houseplants thrive in bright light, but it's essential to be mindful of their specific lighting needs. While they appreciate sunlight, direct midday sun should be avoided as it can harm their delicate leaves by causing sunburn or scorching. Ideally, place your Coleus near a window that receives filtered or dappled sunlight. If you're growing them indoors, consider east or west-facing windows where the plant can benefit from the morning or afternoon sun without direct exposure.
Expert tip! To ensure even growth and balanced development, rotate your Coleus every few weeks. This prevents one side of the plant from leaning toward the light source.
You will keep your Coleus happy by keeping its soil consistently moist, but not too wet. If the soil gets too dry, your plant might not grow well and its leaves could turn brown at the edges. To determine when your plant needs a drink, simply insert your finger about two centimeters deep into the soil. If the soil at that depth feels dry to the touch, it's time to give your plant a little sip. You can also use a water meter to check if your plant needs water.
Coleus plants experience the most growth during the growing season, which spans from spring through early autumn. During this period, you can fertilise your Coleus regularly with a balanced plant fertiliser.
Expert tip! Make sure that the soil is moist before applying the fertiliser. This helps prevent potential root burn and ensures the plant can take up the nutrients more effectively.
Temperature & humidity
Coleus thrives in temperatures between 15°C to 24°C. Maintaining these temperatures is essential for optimal growth and coloration of the leaves. You should protect your Coleus from cold drafts, as they are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Cold drafts can cause stress and affect the health of the plant.
Coleus houseplants can tolerate average indoor humidity, but providing them with some extra moisture and higher humidity will make them feel more at home and help them thrive! Read more about how to raise humidity for your houseplants.
Expert tip! To increase humidity around the plant you can regularly mist the foliage with water or use a humidifier. This is especially important in dry indoor environments.
Soil & repotting
Coleus plants flourish in well-draining soil. Use a high-quality potting mix designed for houseplants. You can improve drainage by adding perlite or sand to the mix. When potting or repotting, refrain from packing the soil too tightly. Loose, well-aerated soil is essential for root health and proper growth.
Coleus typically requires repotting every 1 to 2 years, or when signs indicate it's time. These signs include slowed growth, roots emerging from drainage holes, or the plant becoming unstable in its current pot.
With its bright leaves and tolerant nature, many plant parents wonder if this beautiful plant can be propagated. The answer is, yes, and it’s super easy! You can propagate your Coleus houseplant through seeds or stem cuttings.
Choose a mature, healthy Coleus plant for propagation. Look for a plant with vibrant foliage and no signs of disease or pests. Then carefully follow these steps:
- Use a sharp and clean pair of scissors or shears and cut off as many coleus cuttings as desired. The cuttings should be between 10-15 cm. Make the cut for the cutting just below a leaf node.
- Remove all of the leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip the stem cutting in rooting powder.
- Stick a pencil into the soil and place the coleus cutting into the hole. The soil should cover at least one leafless node.
- Place the cutting in a little plastic bag or cover the nursery pot with plastic wrap. Make sure that the plastic is not touching the cutting. Place the container in bright, but indirect light.
The coleus cutting should root in two to three weeks. You will know it is rooted when you see new growth on the coleus cutting. Alternately, another method for how to root coleus cuttings is in water. After taking your cuttings, place them in a small glass of water and place this in bright indirect light. Change the water every other day. Once you see roots grow, you can transplant the coleus cuttings into soil.
Most common pests on Coleus
Coleus houseplants can be susceptible to various common pests, including aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, whiteflies, thrips and unfortunately more. To prevent and manage these pests, it's essential to inspect your plants regularly. Do you think your plant is suffering from something? Check how to recognise and solve your plants’ plague on our PLNTSdoctor page.
Is Coleus poisonous for your pets or children?
Unfortunately, Coleus plants are toxic to pets and humans. It's best to keep it out of reach of pets and children to prevent accidental ingestion.
Buy your new Coleus online at PLNTS.com
Looking for a pop of colour? Try a Coleus to brighten up your space! At PLNTS.com you can buy Coleus online, like the Coleus 'Main Street Abbey Road, Coleus Le Freak or Coleus MS River Walk.