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Pruning Coleus 101: Mastering Trimming for Lush Foliage

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Pruning Coleus 101: Mastering Trimming for Lush Foliage

Welcome to the world of coleus pruning! Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, understanding how to properly prune your coleus plants is key to maintaining their lush foliage and promoting healthy growth. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the why, when, and how of pruning coleus, equipping you with the knowledge and techniques needed to become a coleus pruning pro.

Why Prune Coleus:

Pruning is equally important for looks and health of the plant. Trimming back new growth not only prevents those stems from going wild but also encourages lush foliage in all the right places, keeping your coleus looking bushy and full. And let’s be honest, it’s all about those fabulous leaves! While coleus do bloom, their flowers are pretty plain compared to those gorgeous variegated leaves. Pruning will redirect all that energy into making your coleus even leafier and more fabulous!

The Best Time to Prune Coleus:

Wait until your plant hits at least 6 inches in height and is in full swing during the spring and summer. That’s when it’s primed for a trim. Feel free to snip away both leaves and flowers to your heart’s content, shaping your coleus as often as needed to keep it looking just right. But remember, give your plant a breather between pruning sessions, allowing it to sprout fresh growth and bounce back in all its leafy glory. Timing is key, ensuring your coleus stays in tip-top shape season after season.

The Tools You’ll Need:

Alright, let’s talk tools! When it comes to pruning your coleus, there are two must-haves: pruning shears and gloves.

Pruning shears are your go-to for making clean, precise cuts. These handy snippers will help you shape your coleus with ease, ensuring you trim exactly where you want without causing any unnecessary damage.

And don’t forget about gloves! While pruning might seem harmless, those shears can easily cut you. Protect your hands with a sturdy pair of gloves to keep them safe from scratches and pricks as well while you work on your plant.

Pruning Coleus 101: Mastering Trimming for Lush Foliage

Pruning Coleus Step-by-Step

  1. Check Your Plant’s Growth: Take a good look at your coleus. Does it look even? Is it overflowing from its pot? If one side is getting too big or it’s looking crowded, it’s time to trim.
  2. Decide Where to Trim: Figure out which parts of your coleus need a trim. If it’s looking lopsided or too crowded, trim off the extra bits to make it look neat and tidy.
  3. Pinch Back New Growth: When you see new leaves popping up, use your fingers or small scissors to pinch them off. This helps your coleus grow bushier and fuller.
  4. Handle the Flowers If your coleus starts to flower, you have a choice. If you want more leaves, pinch off the flowers. But if you like the flowers, go ahead and let them bloom!

Follow these steps, and your coleus will stay healthy and happy, with plenty of beautiful leaves to show off!


Once you’ve finished pruning your coleus, it’s time to provide some aftercare to help it bounce back fast. There are two main things you need to pay attention to:

  1. Watering: Your coleus likes its soil slightly damp, not soggy. Stick your finger in the soil—if the top inch feels dry, it’s thirsty. Give it a good drink, but don’t drown it! Too much water can spell trouble for your plant.
  2. Sunlight: Morning rays are your coleus’ jam. It loves a bit of sunshine to start the day but prefers some shade or filtered light afterward. So, find a spot where it can soak up that morning sun without getting fried all day long.
Pruning Coleus 101: Mastering Trimming for Lush Foliage

Frequently Asked Questions

Should coleus be cut back?

Yes, coleus should be cut back, especially in late summer, as it encourages more growth, resulting in fuller and stronger plants that can withstand until the first frost. It’s a simple yet effective way to ensure your coleus remains healthy and vibrant throughout the growing season.

How to prune leggy coleus?

To prune leggy coleus, use clean and sharp shears and cut away the excess growth to shape it. Don’t forget to pluck flower spikes to keep the leaves looking lush. Keep an eye on it and trim as needed to stop your coleus from taking over its pot!

How do I make my coleus bushy?

To make your coleus bushy, prune your plant when it hits around 6 inches tall. Pinch the growing tips a pinch just under the flower buds to encourage leafy growth. If you skip this, you’ll likely end up with leggy plants that lose their shape.

Where to cut coleus?

If you are taking cuttings for propagation while pruning Coleus, keep it simple: Snip a healthy stem about 4-6 inches long, making sure to cut just below a node. Nodes are where the magic happens—new leaves sprout from there or will soon.