How To Plant Coleus Seeds [ Full Guide ]

Coleus is a popular and vibrant plant known for its colorful foliage, making it a favorite for many gardeners and plant enthusiasts. While coleus can be easily propagated from cuttings, planting coleus seeds can also be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the step-by-step process of planting coleus seeds, from selecting the right spot for planting to caring for the seedlings and transplanting them to their permanent location.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Coleus Seeds

  • Select the right spot for planting: Choose a location with well-draining soil and partial shade.
  • Prepare the soil: Ensure the soil is fertile, moist, and rich in organic matter.
  • Germinate the seeds: Start the germination process indoors in a warm and humid environment.
  • Care for seedlings: Provide adequate light, water, and nutrients to the seedlings as they grow.
  • Transplant seedlings: When the seedlings have developed several sets of true leaves, transplant them to their permanent location.

Now, let’s delve into each step in detail.

Selecting The Right Spot For Planting

Coleus plants thrive in environments with well-draining soil and partial shade. When selecting a spot for planting coleus seeds, consider the following factors:

Light Conditions

Coleus plants prefer partial shade. In hot climates, they may benefit from some morning sun and afternoon shade. When choosing a location, look for an area that receives several hours of dappled sunlight or filtered light, such as under the canopy of trees or alongside buildings.

Soil Quality

The soil should be well-draining and fertile, with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Coleus plants also appreciate soil that is rich in organic matter. If your soil is heavy or compacted, consider amending it with organic compost to improve its structure and fertility.

Climate Considerations

Coleus plants are sensitive to cold temperatures and frost. If you live in a region with cooler winters, it’s best to plant coleus seeds after the threat of frost has passed. Additionally, coleus can thrive in both outdoor gardens and indoor containers, providing flexibility in various climates and settings.

Preparing The Soil For Successful Growth

Preparing the soil is a crucial step in ensuring the successful growth of coleus plants from seeds. Follow these guidelines to create an optimal environment for planting coleus seeds:

Clear The Planting Area

Before planting coleus seeds, clear the planting area of any debris, weeds, or rocks. This will provide a clean and unobstructed space for the seeds to germinate and the seedlings to grow.

Amend The Soil

If the soil in your chosen location is lacking in nutrients or has poor drainage, it’s essential to amend it before planting the coleus seeds. Incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to improve its fertility and structure.

Soil Moisture

Coleus plants prefer moist soil, so it’s important to ensure that the planting area has adequate moisture. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance, as coleus does not thrive in waterlogged soil. Ensure that the soil is consistently moist but not waterlogged.

Ph Testing

Test the pH of the soil using a pH testing kit. Ideally, the pH level should fall between 6.0 and 7.0 for optimal coleus growth. If the pH is too low or too high, you can adjust it by incorporating pH-adjusting amendments.

Germinating Coleus Seeds

Germinating coleus seeds is a process that can be started indoors before the last frost date or directly outdoors once the weather warms. Here’s how to germinate coleus seeds successfully:

Indoor Germination

  • Fill seedling trays or small pots with a high-quality seed starting mix. Ensure that the containers have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
  • Moisten the seed starting mix with water before planting the seeds.
  • Gently press the coleus seeds into the surface of the moistened seed starting mix, but do not bury them deep. Cover the seeds lightly with a thin layer of the seed starting mix.
  • Place the trays or pots in a warm location with indirect sunlight. Coleus seeds require warmth for germination, with temperatures ideally around 70-75°F (21-24°C).
  • Keep the seed starting mix consistently moist but not waterlogged, as excessive moisture can lead to seed rot.

Outdoor Germination

  • Wait until the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed before direct sowing coleus seeds outdoors.
  • Prepare the planting area by loosening the soil and incorporating organic matter to improve its fertility.
  • Scatter the coleus seeds lightly over the prepared soil, then cover them with a thin layer of soil. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate.

Germination Time

Coleus seeds typically germinate within 7-14 days under optimal conditions. Once the seeds have germinated, the seedlings will emerge with their first set of true leaves.

Seedling Care And Transplanting

After the coleus seeds have germinated and the seedlings have grown, it’s essential to provide proper care to support their healthy development. Here’s how to care for coleus seedlings and transplant them to their permanent location:

Providing Adequate Light

Coleus seedlings require bright, indirect light for healthy growth. If growing them indoors, consider placing them near a sunny window or under grow lights. When grown outdoors, ensure they receive dappled sunlight or partial shade.

Watering The Seedlings

Maintain consistent soil moisture for the seedlings by watering them when the soil surface begins to dry out. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause the seedlings to wilt and suffer.

Fertilizing The Seedlings

After the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, you can begin fertilizing them with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength. Apply the fertilizer every 2-3 weeks to provide the young coleus plants with the nutrients they need to thrive.

Transplanting Seedlings

When the coleus seedlings have developed several sets of true leaves and the threat of frost has passed, they are ready to be transplanted to their permanent location. Choose a location with partial shade and well-draining soil, similar to the conditions favored by adult coleus plants.

  • Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of each seedling and gently place the seedling in the hole.
  • Backfill the hole with soil and pat it gently to secure the seedling in place.
  • Water the transplanted seedlings thoroughly to help them establish their roots in their new location.

Planting coleus seeds and nurturing them to maturity can be a gratifying experience for gardeners and plant enthusiasts. By selecting the right spot for planting, preparing the soil, germinating the seeds, caring for the seedlings, and transplanting them to their permanent location, you can enjoy the vibrant foliage of coleus plants in your garden or indoor space. With proper care and attention, your coleus plants will thrive and bring a burst of color to their surroundings.

Watering And Fertilizing Tips

Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) is a popular ornamental plant that is known for its vibrant, colorful foliage. While coleus is typically propagated through stem cuttings, it is also possible to grow them from seeds. Planting coleus seeds can be a rewarding experience as it allows you to choose from a wide range of color patterns and leaf shapes. However, it’s important to follow the right techniques to ensure successful germination and growth.

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Proper watering and fertilizing are essential for the healthy growth of coleus plants. Here are some tips to ensure they thrive:

  1. Watering: Coleus plants prefer evenly moist soil, so it’s important to keep their soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water the seeds lightly after sowing and ensure the top layer of soil remains moist until germination occurs. Once the seedlings have sprouted, water them when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Be careful not to overwater, as coleus can be susceptible to root rot.

  2. Fertilizing: When the coleus seeds have germinated and the plants are established, it’s important to provide them with proper nutrients. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two to three weeks during the growing season. Dilute the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package to avoid overfeeding, which can lead to foliage burn. Avoid fertilizing in the winter months, as coleus plants tend to be less active during this time.

Common Pests And Diseases Of Coleus Plants

Like any other plant, coleus is susceptible to pests and diseases. Here are some common issues you may encounter and how to address them:

  1. Aphids: Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that can cause damage to coleus plants. They are typically found on the undersides of leaves and can be identified by their small size and pear-shaped bodies. To control aphids, you can use insecticidal soap or a strong blast of water to physically remove them from the plant. Additionally, introducing natural predators like ladybugs can help keep aphid populations in check.

  2. Spider Mites: Spider mites are tiny pests that feed on the sap of coleus plants, often leaving behind yellowed, stippled leaves. They can be quite challenging to control, but regular misting of the foliage and keeping the humidity high can discourage their growth. If the infestation is severe, you may need to use an insecticidal soap or miticide to eliminate them.

  3. Fungal Diseases: Coleus plants are prone to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot. Powdery mildew appears as a white, powdery coating on the leaves, while root rot leads to wilting and decay of the roots. To prevent fungal diseases, avoid overwatering and ensure good airflow around the plants. If you notice signs of disease, remove the affected leaves or plants and treat with a fungicide if necessary.

Pruning And Shaping Coleus Plants

Pruning coleus plants is important to maintain their shape and encourage bushier growth. Here’s how to prune and shape your coleus plants effectively:

  1. Pinching: Pinching refers to removing the tips of the coleus plant stems to promote branching. This can be done when the plants have reached a height of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm). Using clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears, pinch or cut off the top few inches of the stem, just above a leaf node. This will stimulate side shoots and create a fuller, more compact plant.

  2. Removing Flower Buds: If your goal is to focus on the foliage, it’s recommended to remove the flower buds as they appear. This will prevent the plants from diverting energy into flowering and promote more vigorous growth of the leaves. Snip off the flower buds as soon as you notice them forming.

  3. Shaping: Coleus plants can be shaped into various forms, such as a rounded bush or a cascading hanging plant. To shape your coleus, pinch or prune the stems to achieve the desired form. Regularly maintaining and shaping your plants will not only enhance their appearance but also keep them compact and prevent them from becoming leggy.

Overwintering Coleus In Colder Climates

Coleus is typically grown as an annual in cooler climates, as it is sensitive to frost. However, if you live in a colder region and would like to keep your coleus plants for the following year, you can overwinter them indoors. Here’s how:

  1. Digging up the Plant: Before the first frost, carefully dig up your coleus plants, taking care not to damage the roots. Shake off excess soil and gently wash the roots to remove any pests or diseases.

  2. Trimming and Potting: Trim the coleus plant back, removing any dead or excessively long stems. Pot the plant in a well-draining potting mix and choose a container that is large enough to accommodate the root ball. Water the plant thoroughly after repotting.

  3. Providing Adequate Light: Coleus plants require bright, indirect light to thrive. Place your potted coleus in a location that receives at least 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. If natural light is limited, you can supplement with artificial grow lights.

  4. Maintaining Indoor Conditions: Keep your coleus plant in a warm indoor location with temperatures around 65-75°F (18-24°C). Provide regular watering, making sure the soil remains evenly moist but not waterlogged. Mist the foliage occasionally to increase humidity and deter pests.

  5. Replanting Outdoors: Once the threat of frost has passed in the spring, you can gradually acclimate your overwintered coleus plants to outdoor conditions. Start by placing them in a shaded area for a few hours a day, gradually increasing sun exposure. After a week or two, you can transplant them into the garden or containers, where they will continue to grow and thrive throughout the summer.

Planting coleus seeds can be a rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy the vibrant colors and unique leaf patterns of this beautiful plant. By following the proper techniques for watering, fertilizing, pruning, and overwintering, you can ensure the health and longevity of your coleus plants. Whether you choose to grow them from seeds or propagate them from stem cuttings, coleus will surely add a touch of beauty to your garden or indoor space. Happy planting!

Alternative Methods Of Propagation

Coleus, scientifically known as Solenostemon scutellarioides, is a popular plant that is highly valued for its vibrant and colorful foliage. It is native to tropical regions and is commonly used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes. While it’s possible to find already grown coleus plants at nurseries and garden centers, many gardeners prefer to start their coleus plants from seeds. Planting coleus seeds not only allows for a wider variety of choices but is also a rewarding and cost-effective way to grow these stunning plants.

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Apart from planting coleus seeds, you can also propagate coleus plants through other methods. These include taking cuttings and division.

1. Taking Cuttings: Taking cuttings is a popular method of propagating coleus plants. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Select a healthy and mature coleus plant with strong stems.
  • Using a sharp and sterilized pair of pruning shears, cut a 4-6 inch stem from the parent plant just below a leaf node.
  • Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the stem.
  • Fill a small container with a well-draining potting mix and water it thoroughly.
  • Dip the cut end of the coleus stem in a rooting hormone powder to encourage root growth.
  • Make a small hole in the potting mix and place the stem cutting in it, firming the soil around it.
  • Cover the container with a plastic bag or a plastic dome to create a humid environment.
  • Place the container in a warm and partially shaded area, away from direct sunlight.
  • Mist the cutting regularly to maintain humidity.
  • After a few weeks, check for root development by gently tugging on the stem. If there is resistance, roots have formed.
  • Once the roots have developed, transfer the rooted cutting into a larger pot or your garden, ensuring it receives adequate light and water.

2. Division: If you already have an established coleus plant that has grown larger, you can propagate it through division. Here’s how:

  • Select a healthy coleus plant with multiple stems and a well-developed root system.
  • Carefully remove the plant from the pot or ground, taking care not to damage the roots.
  • Gently separate the plant into smaller sections, ensuring that each section has its own set of stems and roots.
  • Prepare pots or garden beds with well-draining soil and water them thoroughly.
  • Plant each divided section in a separate pot or garden bed, making sure the soil is firmly packed around the roots.
  • Water the newly divided plants regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist until they become established.

Both of these propagation methods can be a great way to expand your coleus collection. However, if you are looking for a wider range of coleus varieties, starting from seeds is the best way to go.

Planting Coleus Seeds

Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of planting coleus seeds.

1. Gather Supplies:

Before you begin planting coleus seeds, gather all the necessary supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Coleus seeds: You can choose from a wide variety of coleus seeds available in different colors and patterns.
  • Seed starting mix: Purchase a good quality seed starting mix from a garden center or make your own by combining equal parts of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.
  • Planting trays or pots: Use shallow containers with drainage holes to sow the seeds.
  • Plastic wrap or a humidity dome: This will help create a greenhouse-like environment and maintain the soil moisture.
  • A spray bottle or mister: This is useful for misting the soil and seeds without disturbing them.
  • A heat mat (optional): If you want to speed up the germination process, a heat mat set to around 70-75°F can be beneficial.

2. Prepare the Seed Starting Mix:

Moisten the seed starting mix to ensure it’s evenly moist before sowing the seeds. Take care not to oversaturate the mix, as excessively wet conditions can lead to fungal diseases and seed rot.

3. Sow the Seeds:

Fill the planting trays or pots with the moist seed starting mix and lightly press it down to create a slightly compact surface. Sprinkle the coleus seeds evenly over the surface of the soil. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of the mix, ensuring they are still visible through the soil. Since coleus seeds require light for germination, they should not be buried too deeply.

4. Maintain Moisture and Encourage Germination:

To maintain the required moisture level, cover the planting trays or pots with plastic wrap or a humidity dome. This helps create a greenhouse effect by trapping moisture inside. Place the trays or pots in a warm, well-lit area, but away from direct sunlight. The ideal temperature for coleus seed germination is around 70-75°F.

Check the moisture levels daily and mist the soil and seeds as needed to keep them moist. Avoid over-watering, as this can lead to damping off, a fungal disease that can kill the seedlings.

5. Provide Adequate Light:

Once the seeds germinate and the cotyledons (seed leaves) appear, remove the plastic wrap or humidity dome. Place the trays or pots in a location with bright, indirect light. Adequate light is essential for the healthy growth of coleus seedlings. If natural light is insufficient, you can provide supplemental fluorescent lights to ensure they receive the required amount of light.

6. Transplanting the Seedlings:

When the seedlings have developed their first true leaves (leaves that resemble the characteristic shape and pattern of mature coleus leaves), they are ready to be transplanted into individual pots or the garden. Gently transfer each seedling, taking care not to damage the delicate roots.

If planting in pots, choose containers that are at least 3-4 inches in diameter and have drainage holes. Fill the pots with a well-draining potting mix and plant the seedlings about 3-4 inches apart. If planting outdoors, ensure that the soil is well-prepared and enriched with organic matter.

7. Harden Off and Planting Outdoors:

Before transplanting the coleus seedlings outdoors, it’s essential to acclimate them to the outdoor conditions gradually. This process, known as hardening off, ensures that the seedlings are resilient and can withstand the outdoor elements.

Start by placing the seedlings outdoors in a sheltered and partially shaded area for a few hours each day, gradually increasing their exposure over a 1-2 week period. This helps them adjust to the differences in temperature, wind, and sunlight between indoor and outdoor environments.

Once the seedlings have hardened off, they can be planted in their final location. Ensure they receive adequate sunlight, preferably in the morning or evening, and provide regular watering to establish strong roots.

Creative Uses For Coleus Plants In Your Garden

Coleus plants are incredibly versatile and can be used in various ways to enhance your garden’s visual appeal. Here are some creative uses for coleus plants:

1. Garden Beds and Borders: Plant coleus in garden beds or borders to create stunning displays of foliage. Mix different colors and patterns of coleus varieties for a vibrant and eye-catching effect. Choose varieties in complimentary or contrasting colors to create a harmonious or bold statement.

2. Container Planting: Coleus is an excellent choice for containers and hanging baskets. Its vibrant foliage brings color and interest to any outdoor space. Combine coleus with other annuals or perennials that have contrasting textures and forms for added visual impact. Make sure the containers have proper drainage and use a high-quality potting mix.

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3. Edging Plants: Use coleus as edging plants along pathways or around garden features. Their compact growth habit and colorful foliage create a striking contrast against green lawns or garden beds.

4. Filler Plants: Coleus plants can be used as filler plants between taller plants in borders or as fillers in hanging baskets and mixed planting containers. Their bushy growth habit fills empty spaces and adds a burst of color to the overall arrangement.

5. Shade Gardens: Coleus is known for its ability to tolerate shade, making it an excellent choice for shady areas of your garden. Use it to brighten up shaded corners, under trees, or in areas with northern exposures where few plants thrive.

6. Foliage Contrast: Use coleus plants to create contrast with other plants with different types of foliage. Pair them with plants that have large leaves or grass-like foliage for an interesting and complementary combination.

7. Indoor Houseplants: Many coleus varieties make excellent houseplants due to their colorful foliage and adaptability to indoor conditions. Place coleus plants in well-lit areas of your homes, away from drafts and cold windows. Rotate them occasionally to promote even growth.

Troubleshooting Common Issues With Coleus Seeds

When planting coleus seeds, you may encounter some common issues that can hinder seed germination and seedling growth. Let’s take a look at these issues and how to troubleshoot them:

1. Damping Off: Damping off is a fungal disease that causes seedlings to wilt and collapse. It often occurs in overly moist conditions. To prevent damping off, ensure good air circulation around the seedlings, avoid over-watering, and use sterilized equipment and disease-free planting medium.

2. Slow or No Germination: If your coleus seeds are slow to germinate or fail to germinate altogether, it could be due to factors such as low temperature (below 70°F), insufficient light, or old or poor-quality seeds. Check the optimal germination temperature range for the specific coleus variety you are planting, provide adequate light, and purchase fresh, high-quality seeds.

3. Leggy Seedlings: If your coleus seedlings appear thin and stretch towards the light source, they are experiencing legginess. This is caused by insufficient light levels. To prevent legginess, provide adequate light by placing the seedlings in a bright location or using supplemental fluorescent lights.

4. Pests: Coleus plants can be susceptible to aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites. Keep an eye out for these pests and take appropriate measures to control them. Insecticidal soap or neem oil can help control infestations, and good garden hygiene practices like removing debris and weeds can prevent pest buildup.

5. Watering Issues: Overwatering or underwatering can cause stress to coleus seedlings. Maintain consistent moisture levels in the soil by checking the moisture regularly and watering when the top inch of soil feels dry. Avoid waterlogged conditions to prevent root rot.

By being mindful of these common issues and taking appropriate preventive measures, you can ensure successful germination and healthy growth of your coleus seedlings.

Harvesting Seeds From Mature Coleus Plants

If you already have mature coleus plants and want to harvest and save their seeds for future planting, follow these steps:

1. Selecting the Parent Plant:

Choose a vigorous and healthy coleus plant with desirable characteristics to harvest seeds from. Look for coleus flowers that have turned brown and dried out, as this indicates that the seeds are mature and ready for harvesting.

2. Collecting the Seeds:

Locate the seed capsules on the dried-out flowers. These capsules house the seeds. Gently crush the capsules to release the seeds. Collect the seeds in a clean container.

3. Drying the Seeds:

Allow the collected seeds to air dry for a few weeks. Place them in a paper envelope or a breathable container and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

4. Checking for Viability:

Before planting saved seeds, it’s a good practice to perform a viability test to check if the seeds are still viable. Take a few seeds and sow them in a small pot or container. Keep the soil moist and provide adequate light. If the seeds germinate within a couple of weeks, they are viable, and you can confidently use the saved seeds for planting.


Planting coleus seeds is a rewarding and cost-effective way to grow these stunning plants. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article and taking into consideration alternative propagation methods, troubleshooting common issues, and creative uses for coleus plants, you can successfully grow a variety of coleus varieties in your garden. Whether you prefer vibrant garden beds or want to add some color to your indoor space, coleus plants are sure to bring vibrancy and visual interest to any garden or landscape. So go ahead, gather those seeds, and embark on a journey to create a kaleidoscope of colors with coleus plants!


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Coleus Seeds?

Coleus seeds can be planted indoors any time of year, but it is generally recommended to plant them in early spring to allow enough time for the plants to establish before the heat of summer.

Do Coleus Seeds Have To Be Started Indoors Or Can They Be Planted Directly In The Garden?

Coleus seeds are often started indoors because they require warm temperatures and consistent moisture to germinate successfully. However, if you live in a warm climate, you may be able to sow the seeds directly into the garden.

How Deep Should Coleus Seeds Be Planted?

Coleus seeds are very small, so they should be planted shallowly, no more than 1/8 inch deep. The most important factor is that they have good contact with the soil and are not buried too deeply.

How Long Does It Take For Coleus Seeds To Germinate?

Depending on the variety, coleus seeds can take anywhere from 7-21 days to germinate. You can help speed up the process by placing the seeds on a heat mat or in a warm location, and keeping the soil consistently moist.

Can Coleus Seeds Be Saved For Future Planting?

Yes, coleus seeds can be saved for future planting as long as they are stored properly. Store them in a cool, dry location in an airtight container. It is also important to label the container with the variety and date of collection.