AskIFAS Powered by EDIS

Coleus x hybridus Coleus

Edward F. Gilman and Teresa Howe


Although coleus does flower, it is grown for its brightly colored leaves (Figure 1). 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.

Figure 1. Coleus.
Figure 1.  Coleus.


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 2)
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
Uses: mass planting; container or above-ground planter; edging; accent
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  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
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
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

Date: 5/25/2015


    • Critical Issue: Agricultural and Food Systems
    Organism ID

    About this Publication

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

    About the Authors

    Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Teresa Howe, coordinator, Research Programs/Services, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


    • Gail Hansen de Chapman