Coleus Care For Commercial Growers


February 27, 2024
Category: Growing Tips

Coleus are exceptional foliage plants well-suited to summer annual mixed containers or landscapes. Your customers will love this plant’s long-lasting color, easy care, and versatility in the landscape.

Our coleus rooted cuttings and seedling plugs arrive ready to be transplanted into your final containers. Follow the tips in this short guide on coleus care to successfully finish and sell your starter plants.

You will learn:

  • The basics of transplanting, fertilizing, and finishing coleus liners and seedling plugs
  • How to time your starter plants
  • How to coach customers to succeed in growing their new plants

How to Transplant, Fertilize, and Finish Coleus

We offer coleus seedlings and rooted liners. Seedlings can be a cheaper option if you need smaller plants, while rooted liners are a great option for finishing baskets more quickly. 

With rooted liners, plant one per 4-inch container or three per 10-inch container. For seedling plugs, plant one per 1801 cell or 4-inch container. Use sanitary, well-drained growing media and clean containers. Sanitize all your tools before transplanting rooted liners or seedling plugs to prevent the spread of disease.

Cultural growing needs and coleus care vary slightly between cultivars. Check the instructions for your specific cultivar for best results. Generally, grow coleus in well-drained soil with a pH between 5.5-7.0 (depending on the variety) and EC of 1.0-2.5 mS/cm.

Provide nighttime temperatures between 60-65 and daytime temperatures between 68-85, depending on which cultivars you choose to grow. 

Coleus develops the best foliage color under bright, indirect light. Some, like Solar Flair and Kong Empire Mix, are short day and require levels between 1,500-3,000 fc, while others, like Fairway Mix and Coleus Wizard, need 13 or more hours at 5,000 fc. Some may be treated with daminozide to control growth, while others grow well without PGRs. 

This plant can be prone to spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, whiteflies, botrytis, leaf spot, root rot, and powdery mildew. Take preventative measures against disease in your commercial greenhouse. Consider implementing an Integrated Pest Management plan.

Water at the base of each plant early in the day, allowing the media to dry between waterings. Apply fertilizer at a rate of 100-175 ppm N.

Starter Plant Timing

Starter timing depends on the container size and relies on appropriate light levels, temperatures, and irrigation to produce full containers in the allotted timeframe. The following crop times apply to transplanted seedling plugs or rooted liners (as noted) growing at an average temperature of 70℉. 

Container Size

Rooted plugs / Container

Total Crop Time

1801 Cell

1 seedling plug

4-5 weeks

4 inch 

1 seedling plug or rooted liner

3-8 weeks

10 inch

3 rooted liners

6-10 weeks

Coleus is a classic foliage annual for landscapes and containers that also provides exceptional color as a houseplant. 

Varieties of Coleus

Coleus comes in a wide range of colors with dwarf, semi-dwarf, or regular upright habits, as well as some with a mounding, trailing habit. We offer patented and non-patented varieties. Patented varieties often provide disease resistance and unique patterns and colors, while non-patented varieties don’t require you to buy tags.

Dwarf coleus reaches just 8″ tall and 6″ wide, bringing foliage in many colors, from green and yellow to orange and red with variegations. 

Semi-dwarf coleus reaches 12-14″ tall and 10-12″ wide and comes in a wide range of colors and patterns.

Regular upright coleus reaches 24-36″ tall.

Some varieties offer a trailing, mounding habit. Color Clouds Valentine, for example, reaches 10″ tall and 30″ wide. 

These plants are easy to grow, stunning in the greenhouse, and bring a striking pop of color to any annual landscape or container. We offer 98 varieties of coleus with different habits, colors, and sizes to meet your customers’ landscaping needs. 

How Your Customers Can Use Coleus

Customers love low-maintenance options for landscaping and mixed containers to bring long-lasting annual color to the garden, patio, and yard. Coleus offers the added bonus of being a wonderful houseplant. 

Customers love that coleus care is low-maintenance, and the plant has attractive foliage and versatility. Each variety offers interesting patterns, vibrant colors, and good branching. Upright coleus are perfect for mixed containers, mass plantings, borders, and houseplant collections, while trailing varieties create beautiful hanging baskets or complete combinations. 

Create an inviting modern landscape by pairing this plant with BegoniaCalibrachoaFuchsiaImpatiensIpomoea, and Lantana.

Space plants 6-30″ apart, depending on the variety, in well-drained soil in part to full shade. Water once a week or more often in containers, extreme heat, or as the plant establishes roots. This plant is heat and shade tolerant, flourishing from spring until frost.

Overwinter coleus indoors, grow it as an evergreen perennial in zones 10-11, or cultivate it as a houseplant in bright, indirect light.

Bring a vibrant splash of color to the greenhouse and garden with coleus! Your customers will thank you for carrying this versatile plant.

Contact us with any questions about coleus care and caring for any other plants. We want to help you grow your business!