Growing Coleus Seeds: A Simple Guide to Colorful Garden Beauty

Growing coleus from seed, beginner-friendly!

When you grow coleus seeds you get to enjoy the process along with their colorful and eye-catching foliage. They are a popular choice for adding a splash of color to gardens, landscapes, and indoor spaces.

While you can find plants at nurseries, growing coleus from seeds can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to cultivate a gorgeous collection of these colorfully decorative plants.

Campfire coleus close up, beautiful orange tinted leaves

Today, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of growing coleus from seed, from choosing the seeds to caring for your mature plants.

By following these simple instructions, you can successfully grow coleus plants that will add a burst of color and beauty to your home or garden.

What is Coleus?

Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae).

It is native to Southeast Asia and Australia, but it is now grown in gardens and landscapes all over the world.

Coleus plants are known for their colorful and variegated leaves, which can come in a variety of colors, including green, red, pink, purple, and yellow.

Coleus plants are relatively easy to grow and care for, making them a good choice for beginner gardeners.

They prefer full sun or partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. Coleus plants are also relatively drought-tolerant, but they will benefit from regular watering.

chocolate colored coleus leaves with vibrant green edging, close up

How to Grow Coleus

Dive into the beautiful journey of growing coleus. It is relatively easy to grow and can be used in various settings, including gardens, containers, and hanging baskets!

Why Grow Coleus from Seed?

There are several reasons why you might want to grow coleus from seed.

My favorite reason is it is a less expensive way to get started with coleus plants. You can buy coleus plants at nurseries, but the cost can add up if you want a wide array of colors available.

Growing coleus from seed is much more affordable, and you can choose from a wider variety of types.

Or if you are adventurous you can buy a mix and be surprised with what comes up. I have had great success with the cheap $1 seed packets from dollar stores or big box stores.

Second, growing coleus from seed allows you to choose the exact varieties you want.

When you buy coleus plants at a nursery, you are limited to the varieties that are available.

However, when you grow coleus from seed, you can choose from a wide variety of varieties, including both popular and rare varieties.

Finally, growing coleus from seed can be a fun and rewarding experience.

It is exciting to watch the seeds germinate and the seedlings grow into mature plants.

And, of course, the end result is a beautiful collection of coleus plants that will add color and beauty to your home or garden.

Growing Coleus Seeds

What Supplies Do You Need?

To grow coleus from seed, you will need the following supplies:

  • Coleus seeds
  • Seed starting mix (any good potting mix works, see my comparison here)
  • Seed starting containers or pots
  • Potting mix
  • Pots or containers for planting up
  • Watering vessel
  • Grow lights (optional)
  • Heat mat (optional)
  • Labeling system

When to Start Coleus Seeds

The best time to start coleus seeds indoors is 4-6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. This will give the seedlings enough time to grow strong before they are transplanted outdoors.

If you live in a warm climate, you can also start coleus seeds outdoors in the spring. However, it is important to wait until the soil has warmed up to at least 60°F before planting the seeds.

Some have reported to me that they toss the seeds from the coleus plants they are growing onto the ground as they remove them and they germinated the next Spring.

I have yet to try that.

rainbow coleus, campfire coleus

How to Start Coleus Seeds

To start coleus seeds indoors, fill your seed starting trays or pots with seed starting mix. Press the seeds lightly into the soil, but do not cover them.

Water the soil thoroughly and then cover the trays or pots with plastic wrap or a humidity dome.

Place the trays or pots in a warm, bright location. The ideal temperature for germination is 70-75°F. The seeds should germinate in 10-14 days.

Once the seeds have germinated, remove the plastic wrap or humidity dome. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.

If you are growing special varieties be sure to label your containers. Though some are easy to recognize once they start growing their true leaves.

vibrant coleus leaves with fuchsia center.

Transplanting Coleus Seedlings

Once the seedlings have their first set of true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into individual pots.

This is usually 4 to 6 weeks from germination. True leaves resemble the look of the adult leaves whereas cotyledons (first leaves) are simple and nondescript.

Fill your pots with potting mix and water the soil thoroughly.

Make a hole in the soil that is the same depth as the seedling’s root system. Gently remove the seedling from its seed starting tray or pot and place it in the hole.

Backfill the soil around the seedling and water it again.

Place the transplanted seedlings in a warm, bright location. Water them regularly, but do not overwater.

Watch me transplant some in this video!

Caring for Coleus Plants

Once your coleus plants have been transplanted, they are relatively easy to care for.

They prefer full sun or partial shade and moist, well-drained soil.

Coleus plants are also relatively drought-tolerant, but they will benefit from regular watering.

Here are some tips for caring for coleus plants:

  • Water your coleus plants regularly, but do not overwater. The soil should be kept moist but not soggy.
  • Fertilize your coleus plants every week with a quarter strength of an organic liquid fertilizer.
  • Pinch back the growing tips of your coleus plants to encourage bushiness.
  • Inspect your coleus plants regularly for pests and diseases. Treat any pests or diseases as soon as you see them.
  • Bring your coleus plants indoors if the temperature drops below 50°F.

For more on growing Coleus press here.

A Few Favorite Coleus to Grow from Seed

Black Dragon Coleus

Black Dragon coleus seeds are a tidy and exotic grow ideal for many hot and humid gardens across the country. Black Dragon seeds mature into tolerant 12″ tall dwarfed shrubs of rich velvety reds spreading 10-12″ wide for an eye-catching ground cover along walkways, borders, fences, or in the flower bed.

Rainbow Coleus

Rainbow Mix coleus seeds are a unique grow for many gardens prone to heat across the country.

Rainbow Mix coleus grows to be 12-15″ tall coleus shrubs in a spectacular mix of tropical magentas, greens, yellows, and reds.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Coleus

Chocolate Covered Cherry coleus seeds are a stunning, simple, and exotic tropical grow ideal for many hot and humid gardens.

Chocolate Covered Cherry grows to be 12-14″ tall mounds of radiant magenta and chocolate leaves perfect for highlighting walkways, borders, fences, or patios.

I enjoy growing coleus from seed because it is a rewarding and relatively easy process. You get a lot of plants for the cost of a packet of seeds to fill garden beds, edge pathways and create gorgeous containers.

Watch the video about all the glorious coleus I grew from one packet of seed!

woman looking back at coleus plants grown from seeds, play arrow in center of image, text overlay reads one dollar packet of seeds!

By following these simple tips, you can successfully grow coleus plants that will add a burst of color and beauty to your home or garden.

FAQs about Coleus Seeds

Seedlings should germinate in 12 to 21 days. Then another 3 to 4 weeks until they are mature plants.

In my experience, yes, coleus is easy to grow from seed. Follow the steps above and you should be able to grow a wide variety to fill your garden.

That depends. If you bought a plant at a nursery it may be one that was propagated from cuttings and won’t necessarily produce seed that will come true. Ones you grow from seed can also cross-pollinate so the seeds will also not always come true.

Happy Coleus Gardening!

Hi, I’m Pamela

I am a 40-year gardening enthusiast who loves to share the simple tips, tricks, and inspiration I have learned from personal experience.
My goal is to cultivate the love of gardening and help make your gardening life more enjoyable!
a Garden Friend!

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