As gardeners, planning our growing season is one of the most exciting parts of winter coming to an end. We get to decide what goes where, what pairs with what, and how to get the most out of our growing season. For coleus growers, knowing whether coleus is annual or perennial is essential to garden planning.
Coleus plants are perennials, so as long as they are in the right environment, they should come back every year. The roots will survive even if the rest of the plant dies, so you can expect them next season. However, they may have trouble surviving the winter without the ideal environment.
Below, I’ll talk about the differences between annuals and perennials. Then, I’ll give you some tips on ensuring your coleus returns every year. We’ll wrap up with info on your perfect coleus timeline.
How Often a Coleus Plant Comes Back
A coleus plant is a perennial, which means it comes back every year as long as it’s taken care of properly and if you live in the right climate.
Coleus plants thrive in warm weather but can be grown in colder climates if given protection from the cold. However, when it comes to coleus care and growing coleus plants indoors, this is not usually an issue as most of us enjoy year-round temperatures that are warm enough for these beautiful plants.
So, coleus plants can come back, depending on where you live and how much work will be. If you live in a warm climate (like Arizona or Florida), your coleus will come back every year without any special care provided to it at all! However, if you live somewhere cooler like New York City or Chicago, your coleus may not survive our colder winters unless taken inside during these times.
The Difference Between an Annual and a Perennial
Annuals and perennials are both types of plants, but they are very different from each other. Perennial plants are plants that live for more than two years. They grow from a root system, which remains in the ground yearly. They usually die back to the ground each winter, then re-emerge in spring or summer with new growth.
Some perennials may go dormant during mild winters and not emerge until spring, but they will never die back completely and will continue to grow through the seasons.
Annuals are plants that live only one growing season and die at the end of that season. They grow from seeds each year, not from their roots. They germinate, flower, and produce seeds in the same year. Most annuals are small and grow quickly, but they can grow to be large if planted late in the season.
Coleus plants are perennial plants that come back every year. Coleus plants die back in the wintertime, but they will grow back again in the spring.
Ideal Conditions for Coleus Plants
There are more than 200 species of coleus, with leaf colors ranging from dark purple to chartreuse green. Coleus plants come in many shapes and sizes — some have colorful leaves that form rosettes, while others have stems that reach up to 6 feet (182.88 cm) tall.
Coleus plants need plenty of light when growing outdoors and under the right conditions indoors. They will grow best in bright direct sunlight for at least half the day. If you don’t have enough natural light where you live, try placing your coleus plant near a south-facing window with sheer curtains or blinds covering it during the day. This will ensure it receives indirect light but without being subject to too much heat from direct sunlight.
How To Save Your Coleus Plant
Even under the best conditions, if it gets pretty cold where you live, you might have extra work on your hands to keep those coleus coming back.
To save your coleus plant, make sure to nurture it with plenty of compost or nutrients, constantly checking its pH. It also helps cover your plant’s root systems in the winter when it gets cold, and you can do so with mulch.
I recommend the Rio Hamza Trading Pine Bark Mulch from Amazon. This 100% natural pine bark mulch is designed to make it easy to use inside the house, and it can be used for both houseplants and outdoor gardening projects.
As mentioned above, you can grow your coleus plant indoors or outdoors. The climate is much more controllable in your home, so you can find a space in the house that gets sunlight and heat without over-dehydrating your plant.
In nature, you’ll find that coleus plants grow best when planted in the spring and will thrive through summer and fall before dying back in winter. Try to keep this schedule in mind to help it thrive. Plant them in the spring, make sure they get everything they need in the summer as they peak, and try to protect the dying back roots in the winter.
You can also keep your coleus alive if you bring it inside during the cold months with simple care instructions. Ensure your coleus plants are in easily moveable pots, then bring them inside. This means keeping the soil moist but not soggy and placing it in a location with plenty of light. Don’t forget to spray down for bugs or to add neem oil so that none of your houseplants get infected with outdoor pests.
If you bring it inside, put the coleus plant in the right place. Even outdoors, sunshine is important, so be mindful of this. Be sure you’re planting your coleus where it will get plenty of sun all day. Coleus can tolerate some shade but will not thrive without enough sunshine for most of the day. You should also ensure that this plant receives about 4 hours per day of direct sunlight for best results with growth and flowering.
If you’re still frustrated with the growth of your coleus plant, you can read my article on promoting coleus plant growth: What to Do When Your Coleus Isn’t Growing
A strong plant in the summer makes for an easy plant to save in the winter and possibly a plant ready to come back in the spring. Keep your coleus healthy, and it’ll be easier, in the long run, to ensure it comes back year after year. You will be proud of these lovely flowering plants every time you look at them!
What Is the Growing Season for a Coleus Plant?
Adorned with bracts, the clusters of leaves that look like flowers, coleus plants often have reds, purples, pinks, and whites. These colorful houseplants are easy to grow in most places and will return yearly in many climates as long as they are planted and maintained correctly. You may be wondering about what their exact growing season is, though.
The ideal growing season for a coleus plant is from spring through fall. If you want to see these plants bloom in summer or fall, they should be planted in spring. However, as houseplants, their growing season can be extended to be year-long.
Coleus plants come in various colors and leaf shapes, so you’re sure to find one that fits your tastes. Most grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 10 through 12, but there are some varieties that are hardy enough to grow as far north as zone 7 and even as far south as zone 9. Regardless, check your zone climates and keep in mind that coleus thrives in warmer weather. Zones 10 through 12 may not have to work nearly as hard to keep coleus growing as zone 7.
Easiest Way to Grow Coleus Plants
Coleus plants can be grown from seed or cuttings taken from adult plants.
However, growing coleus from seed takes time — it may take up to four months before you see any signs of growth! If you’re impatient or don’t want to wait long for results, try rooting cuttings instead. Cuttings will root more quickly than seeds do.
Coleus plants are beautiful and easy to grow. They make great houseplants or outdoor plants for any climate. You can also use them in containers on your porch or patio during the summer months when they aren’t dormant or indoors during winter months when they are dormant.
With the right knowledge and expertise, a skilled gardener can create stunning plants to rival those grown indoors or in nurseries. Coleus, in particular, thrives with tender love and care. Even with the extra work, coleus plants are worth it.