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Coleus x hybridus Coleus

Edward F. Gilman, Teresa Howe, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


Although coleus does flower, it is grown for its brightly colored leaves. The plant grows in sun to partial shade and requires a lot of water. Coleus reaches 20 to 24 inches tall but trailing types can be used in hanging pots. Pinch young plants or older, leggy plants to encourage branching for a fuller plant. Coleus may be used as a potted plant indoors in a sunny window or outdoors in part sun. They are sometimes planted en mass on 12 to 18 inch centers to add a splash of bright color to any landscape. A mass planting looks nice with a backdrop of green shrubs. Remove flower spikes as they appear to encourage more foliage growth. Cold wet soils and poor cultural practices can result in leaf drop.

Full Form - Coleus x hybridus: Coleus
Figure 1. Full Form - Coleus x hybridus: Coleus
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


Leaf - Coleus x hybridus: Coleus
Figure 2. Leaf - Coleus x hybridus: Coleus
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


Flower - Coleus x hybridus: Coleus
Figure 3. Flower - Coleus x hybridus: Coleus
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Coleus x hybridus

Pronunciation: KOE-lee-us x HYE-brid-us

Common name(s): coleus

Family: Labiatae

Plant type: annual

USDA hardiness zones: all zones (Figure 4)

Planting month for zone 7: Jun; Jul; Aug

Planting month for zone 8: May; Jun; Jul; Aug

Planting month for zone 9: Mar; Apr; May; Jun; Jul; Aug; Sep; Oct

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: Mar; Apr; May; Jun; Jul; Aug; Sep; Oct

Origin: not native to North America

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Uses: mass planting; container or above-ground planter; edging; accent

Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 4. Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 1 to 3 feet

Spread: 1 to 3 feet

Plant habit: round

Plant density: dense

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: crenate; lobed; undulate

Leaf shape: ovate

Leaf venation: bowed

Leaf type and persistence: not applicable

Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches

Leaf color: yellow; green; variegated

Fall color: not applicable

Fall characteristic: not applicable


Flower color: blue

Flower characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy


Fruit shape: no fruit

Fruit length: no fruit

Fruit cover: no fruit

Fruit color: not applicable

Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable

Current year stem/twig color: green

Current year stem/twig thickness: very thick


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun

Soil tolerances: clay; sand; acidic; loam

Soil salt tolerances: unknown

Plant spacing: 12 to 18 inches


Roots: not applicable

Winter interest: not applicable

Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding

Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Coleus is propagated by seed and cuttings. Cuttings as short as two inches can be taken from newly grown shoots and rooted in plain water. The seed germinates in 10 to 14 days at 70°F to 75°F. Light stimulates germination so seed should not be covered. Set plants outside after the weather has warmed. In USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11, coleus can be set out spring through late summer. Winter plantings are successful in south Florida in the full sun provided adequate moisture is available.

Pest and Diseases

Mites cause the leaves to be puckered and distorted.

Publication #FPS136

Release Date:October 9, 2023

Related Collections

Part of Shrubs Fact Sheets

Related Topics

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Organism ID

About this Publication

This document is FPS136, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. October 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, UF/IFAS Department of Environmental Horticulture; Teresa Howe, former coordinator, research programs and services, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Wimauma, FL; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture, and Gail Hansen, professor, sustainable landscape design, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman