Pruning Coleus

Coleus is a very easy plant to grow and maintain, and they generally require very little maintenance. However, with some minor cutting back, you can encourage your Coleus to push out new growth. Cutting back a plant to help it grow may seem counterintuitive, but you can help your Coleus look amazing and experience a full, lush plant with some simple pruning.


When to Prune Coleus

Only prune mature Coleus plants that are at least 6 inches tall. The best time to prune Coleus is when the plant is actively growing, during the spring and summer. Both leaves and flowers can be removed when pruning Coleus, and you can prune the plant as often as necessary to maintain the desired look. You want to give the plant time to bounce back, so allow the plant time to generate new growth between pruning sessions.

How to Prune Coleus

Step 1 - Observe the plant

Look at the Coleus as a whole and determine if the plant is growing evenly and consistently. Identify if one side is taller or longer than other parts of the plant or if the plant is outgrowing its container. 

Step 2 - Identify areas to prune

If the Coleus is lopsided or not growing evenly, you may want to remove the uneven parts to create a more consistent look. It is a matter of preference, but if the Coleus is overflowing the container, it can cut back to achieve the look you want.

Step 3 - Pinch back new leaves

As new leaves emerge, they can be pinched back using your fingers to remove the growth. You can use clean pruning shears or clippers to cut back sections of the stem, particularly if the plant has become leggy.

Step 4 - Trim away flowers

Pinch flower buds as they emerge to prevent the plant from blooming. Removing flower buds allows the plant to refocus that energy into new foliage. If you decide to keep the flowers, you can deadhead the plant or remove the spent flowers.


Why Prune Coleus

You can prune a Coleus to maintain a specific look or shape. Trimming back new growth will prevent the stems from growing long and encourage the plant to push out leaves in other areas. Pruning will maintain a bushy look and create dense foliage. Since Coleus are known for their beautiful foliage, a full plant loaded with leaves is generally a more desirable look.

Coleus bloom and send up inflorescence, or a stem with clusters of flowers. The flowers tend to be rather plain when compared to the variegation of the leaves. Pruning the flowers is a choice, but it will not harm the plant, and removing the inflorescence will allow the plant to redirect that energy into new leaves.


Coleus Pruning Tips

  • Decide how you want the plant to look.
  • Pinch off new leaf growth or flower buds using your fingers.
  • Larger sections or stems or spent flowers can be removed using pruning shears.
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 Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 12-09-2021

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