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Growing Coleus in Containers and Best Companions

Growing Coleus In Containers and Best Companions

How to grow Coleus in containers and the best companions to plant together. Coleus are popular plants known for their vibrant, multicolored foliage.

How to Grow Coleus in Containers

Coleus are tropical perennials that are easy to grow and care for, making them a favorite among gardeners.

I love growing coleus in containers because it offers flexibility in placement, allows for better control over soil conditions, and makes it easier to bring the plants indoors during colder months.

In this guide, I will provide you with all the information you need to grow coleus in containers successfully.

Choosing the Right Container

When selecting a container for your coleus, size is crucial. A container that is too small can restrict root growth, leading to poor plant health.

A good rule of thumb that I often follow is to choose a container that is at least 12 inches in diameter for a single coleus plant.

When I plan to grow multiple plants, I usually opt for larger containers to give each plant enough room to thrive.

Materials also matter. Clay and terracotta pots are excellent choices as they are porous, allowing for better air circulation around the roots.

However, they can dry out more quickly than plastic or glazed pots, which retain moisture better. Plastic pots are lightweight and durable, while glazed ceramic pots offer aesthetic appeal and retain moisture well.

Proper drainage is essential to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. Ensure your container has several drainage holes at the bottom.

If it doesn’t, you can drill additional holes. To improve drainage further, place a layer of gravel or small stones at the bottom of the container before adding soil.

Selecting the Ideal Soil

Coleus plants prefer well-draining soil rich in organic matter. A high-quality potting mix is suitable, but you can also create your own blend.

I normally mix equal parts of garden soil, peat moss, and perlite or coarse sand. This mix ensures good drainage and provides the nutrients coleus plants need.

Incorporating organic matter such as compost or aged manure into the soil can improve its structure and fertility.

Additionally, a balanced slow-release fertilizer can be mixed into the soil at the time of planting to give your coleus a nutrient boost.

Planting Coleus in Containers Step-by-Step

Preparing the Container: Before planting, clean the container to remove any residues or pathogens.

If you’re using a previously used pot, a mild bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water) can be used for sterilization.

Add gravel and soil: After cleaning, add a layer of gravel or small stones at the bottom to aid in drainage. Add a layer of soil on top of the gravel.

Positioning the Plant: Place your coleus plant in the center of the container if planting one, or space them evenly if planting multiple.

Filling with Soil: Fill the container with the soil mix up to about 1-2 inches below the rim. Gently firm the soil around the plant’s roots.

Initial Watering: Water the plant thoroughly after planting to help settle the soil and eliminate air pockets.

Care and Maintenance

Watering Needs

Coleus plants thrive in consistently moist soil but are susceptible to root rot if overwatered. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry.

The frequency of watering will depend on factors such as the container size, weather conditions, and plant size.

In hot, dry weather, you may need to water daily, while in cooler, humid conditions, watering every few days might suffice.

Light Requirements

Coleus prefers bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, while too little light can cause the colors to fade and the plant to become leggy.

A location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal. If growing indoors, place the container near a bright window but out of direct sun.

Temperature and Humidity

Coleus plants are sensitive to cold and prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C). They thrive in high humidity but can adapt to lower levels indoors.

During winter, keep the plants away from cold drafts and heating vents. If the air is too dry, consider using a humidity tray or a room humidifier.

Fertilizing Coleus

Coleus plants benefit from regular feeding during the growing season. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength every 2-4 weeks. Organic options, such as fish emulsion or seaweed extract, can also be used.

Start fertilizing in early spring when new growth begins and continue until late summer.

Reduce feeding frequency in the fall and stop altogether in winter when the plant’s growth slows down. Signs of nutrient deficiency include yellowing leaves and stunted growth.

Pruning and Pinching

Pruning and pinching coleus plants encourage bushier growth and help maintain a compact shape.

Removing flower spikes as they appear can also prolong the life of the plant by redirecting energy back to foliage growth.

Use clean, sharp scissors or pruners to cut back leggy stems or pinch off the growing tips with your fingers.

Aim to prune back to just above a set of leaves or a leaf node to encourage branching. Regular pinching and pruning will result in a fuller, more attractive plant.

Pest and Disease Management

Coleus can be affected by pests such as aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests and treat infestations promptly with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs can also help control pest populations naturally.

However, just be warned that ladybugs can be unpredictable and can just fly away soon after you introduce them.

Diseases such as root rot, powdery mildew, and downy mildew can affect coleus.

To prevent these, ensure good air circulation around the plants, avoid overhead watering, and remove any infected leaves promptly. Fungicidal sprays can be used for severe infections.

For organic control, use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oils. Chemical pesticides and fungicides can be effective but should be used as a last resort due to their potential impact on beneficial insects and the environment.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using any chemical treatments.

Overwintering Coleus

Coleus plants are not frost-tolerant and must be brought indoors before the first frost.

Gradually acclimate outdoor plants to indoor conditions by bringing them in for a few hours each day over a week or two.

Once indoors, place coleus in a bright location and reduce watering to prevent root rot. The plant may enter a semi-dormant state with reduced growth during winter.

Continue to provide bright, indirect light and maintain temperatures between 60-70°F (15-21°C). If light levels are low, consider using a grow light.

Propagating Coleus

Coleus can be easily propagated from stem cuttings or seeds. Stem cuttings are the most common method and can be done year-round.

Selecting and Cutting Stems: Choose healthy stems and cut 4-6-inch sections just below a leaf node. Remove the lower leaves, leaving 2-3 sets of leaves at the top.

Rooting Process: Place the cuttings in water or a moist potting mix. If using water, change it every few days to keep it fresh. Roots should develop in 2-3 weeks.

Once roots are a few inches long, transplant the cuttings into individual pots with soil.

Creative Coleus Container Ideas

Combining Coleus with Other Plants

Coleus pairs well with other shade-loving plants like ferns, begonias, and impatiens. Combining different coleus varieties can also create a stunning display of colors and patterns.

Decorative Container Suggestions

Choose containers that complement the vibrant colors of coleus. Consider using decorative pots, hanging baskets, or window boxes to add visual interest.

Seasonal themes, such as using pumpkins or gourds as containers in the fall, can also enhance your garden’s appeal.

Interesting Posts:

Final Thoughts

Growing coleus in containers is a rewarding experience that allows for flexibility in placement and care.

I like experimenting with different varieties and container arrangements and enjoy the beauty and versatility of coleus.

I hope this post on how to grow coleus in containers and companions was helpful. If you love gardening vegetables and flowers subscribe to my mailing list and also follow me on Pinterest @multigardening.

How To Grow Coleus in Containers Guide

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