multicolor coleus

Can I Grow Coleus Indoors

can I grow coleus indoors
Stunning Image credit: leoleobobeo on Pixabay

If you are anything like me, you absolutely love the pops of color and leaf variegations that the coleus plant offers us.  Coleus is such an easy care, hardy plant and has many amazing qualities to enjoy.  In this post I’ll be answering the question, “Can I grow coleus indoors” and offer you some fun facts, tips for care and other helpful hints.  Plus, as always, I gladly welcome your discussion and personal experience with this one of a kind plant. 

What Family Is Coleus From?

You may be surprised, as I was, that Coleus is in the mint family.  Their scientific genus is Solenostemon.

can I grow coleus indoors
Photo of mint leaves by Ren Ran on Unsplash

Coleus are native to tropical Africa, Asia and Australia.  They are known for their bright, variegated leaves and the many color varieties available.  

What Type of Light Do Coleus Need?

When growing coleus indoors, they need bright but indirect light. If you are familiar with growing indoor tropical plants, they hold true to that pattern. Coleus do extremely well with artificial lighting (i.e. grow lights – see my lengthy review of those here) and they will reward you with brilliant and deep colors. Several hours each day of bright light will yield the best results. Too much light and you will notice the colors beginning to fade. 

Here is an interesting video of a man who hung his coleus in a sunny window and got amazing results! 

Water Requirements

Indoor coleus enjoy humidity.  They do not like to dry out.  

Coleus enjoy having their soil kept continuously moist but do not like to be standing in water at their roots.  Typically watering every 7 days or so is within the safe range, but if your home is dry, you may need to increase the frequency. Checking the soil with your fingertip is recommended to determine what your particular plant needs in its environment. You will want to reduce the amount of water you give your coleus during the winter months. 

can I grow coleus indoors

If your home does tend to be low on humidity, using a humidity tray or utilizing a pebble tray by placing your plant on a tray with wet pebbles will effectively increase the humidity available for your coleus. Here is a great guide for tips on how to increase humidity for your houseplants. 

Growing Habits

Coleus have a natural tendency to want to get “leggy.”  All this means is that if allowed to continue growing without pinching their new leaf shoots, they will grow tall and become unhealthy over time.  

Pinch off the tips on Coleus

How do you pinch leaves? There are small tips that grow within the coleus leaves as pictured above.  They will look like baby leaves.  In order to keep the coleus bushy, you just pinch that off with your fingertips.  This encourages the coleus to grow outward vs upward.  You will also want to snip off any flowering stems that grow because the coleus will focus all of its energy into keeping the bloom, rather than maintaining foliage health.  

According to The Spruce, when it comes to repotting a coleus, it’s best to trim the plant back after winter, refresh the soil and let it remain in its same pot.  Otherwise, increase the pot size by one for a new home. 

Coleus tend to grow rapidly in the Spring and can reach 2 to 3 feet.  I had one that grew more like a tree than a bush.  It was extremely unique but eventually the stem weight becomes too much and it does jeopardize the health of your plant.  Trimming is definitely ideal. 


Photo courtesy of ajabs @ Pixabay

We have been amazed at the ease of propagating these plants.  On one coleus we have, some stems broke off and looked to be just about dead.  Figuring that we had nothing to lose, we stuck the stem into a cup of water and guess what? It grew new roots and we were able to transplant it into some soil.  That stem is now a beautiful and healthy coleus plant.  

Don’t be shy.  If you have a plant that you love and would like to duplicate, go ahead and take a branch cutting from it. Ideally, the stem you choose should have a bud on the end of it, but I have successfully rooted those without as well.  Stem length should be between 2-6 inches. Remove the lower leaves (if any) and set that directly into some water.  Within a short while, you will see tiny roots floating in the water.  Give the roots a chance to grow strong in the water and then gently move into a small pot with potting soil. 

Versatility Meets Ease of Care

That heading really says it all.  Coleus are so easy to care for but yet have some of the most stunning foliage you’ll ever see.  When trimmed back indoors, coleus provide lasting color that will charm you every day for a long time to come. 

Given the color variations available today, you can find exactly what you love and will work in your home.  

We highly recommend adding this incredible plant to your home.  As a very important note however, if you have cats and/or dogs, coleus is considered toxic to them.  If eaten, it will cause gastrointestinal distress.  The oils in this plant can cause skin irritations and burns.  

Let Me Hear From You!

Do you have a coleus plant that you love?  I’d love to hear your stories and questions.  

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