How to Grow “Big” Coleus as a Tree

Want to know How to Grow Coleus as a Tree? Here are the simple tips and tricks to make this colorful plant stand tall in your garden!

Have you ever witnessed a vivid coleus plant growing like a tree in someone’s garden and wanted to have the same in your yard? Don’t worry! We are here to help you! Learn all about How to Grow Coleus as a Tree in this article!

Picking the Right Coleus

Before you plan to grow coleus as a tree, you have to remember that not all varieties can grow tall as most of them hardly breach the 3 feet mark.

Mariposa, Candy Store, Vulcan, and Orange King are some of the best ones you can grow as trees. These varieties can easily reach 3-4 feet tall.

How to Grow Coleus as a Tree 

1. Picking the Right Container

Though coleus does well in 6-8 inches pot, it should definitely not be your pick if you want to grow a coleus tree!

In order to make sure these plants grow tall, it is important that you give their roots plenty of room to grow and expand, for which you need a large container.

Go for a standard 12-14 inches size container–if you want a braided appearance, you can also plant 2-3 coleus together in it. This will also keep the plant stable as coleus can become top-heavy pretty soon.

2. Stake ’em Up!

If you are not going to stake your to-be coleus tree, it will become floppy and start to grow downwards or sideways. To help it grow straight and appear tall, it is essential that you give it the right support until its main stem becomes hard.

For this, use a bamboo stake, and if possible, at least a foot taller than the plant. Using a stretch tie or twine, attach it with the center stem, making sure you are not knotting it too tight.

3. Pinching and Topping

For coleus to grow as a tree, it is important that the plant grows straight. Half of this will be helped by the bamboo stake, and half you have to do by regular pinching and topping.

Pinching the side branches the moment they start to grow away too much will ensure that the plant diverts all its energy into growing straight and becoming bushier. Also, snip away coleus inflorescence and buds the moment you spot them because not removing the flowers will exhaust the plant.

Once the plant reaches the desired height of 3-4 feet, start topping—the process of removing the plant’s top growth, just above the node. This tricks two axillary buds below the cut to grow out 2 new branches, which gives the plant its tree-like or canopy look.

4. Keep Pruning

Once the plant attains a good height, start to prune in a way it looks like a mini tree. Prune away the side shoots and branches growing downwards to clean the main stem.

The best ratio to follow is 2/3 stem with no growth and 1/3 canopy full of foliage. This will maintain that lush, tree-like look.

Some Quick Tips on Maintaining Coleus as a Tree

  • It is important that you provide it with plenty of bright and indirect light evenly from all sides for the most part of the day; otherwise, the plant will turn towards the direction of light, which might make it grow sideways.
  • If you can expose your plant to morning sunlight, it will appreciate that.
  • As coleus can live for several years in frost-free climates, you’ll have to be patient as it can take at least a couple of years to look great like pictures. You can also buy a big specimen to get the early results.
  • Use a 10-10-10 liquid fertilizer, diluted to 1/4 of its strength, once in 10-21 days in the active-growing season.
  • Make sure the plant is protected from strong winds as coleus has brittle stems, and strong gush might snap them.
  • Water the plant regularly and do not let the soil go dry completely. Coleuses are thirsty plants, so make sure to keep them a little moist all the time. However, if growing indoors, water only when the soil is dry.

Overwintering Coleus as a Tree

To ensure the plant thrives as a tree, you’ll need to ‘overwinter’ it. Bring the coleus in a greenhouse or indoors during cold months and place it by the south or east-facing window.

Do not feed during this time and keep it safe from catching drafts. Come spring, and it will start to get vibrant again!

How to Make a Braided Coleus Tree

You can also braid the main stems of this plant to make it more attractive. Do this when they are young, soft, and tender—you’ll need more than 2-3 plants for this. Watch the video here for more information.

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