Propagating Coleus – Step-by-Step Coleus Plant Propagation

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Don’t you just love the colors of coleus?! Propagating coleus from cuttings is an easy and fun gardening trick for all ages. Try these tips for successful coleus plant propagation in soil or water.

Coleus grows well in dappled sun and partial shade. Known largely for its stunning foliage, coleus also puts up floral stems later in the growing season.

Before those flowers first appear, you can take coleus cuttings from your favorite plants. Then, give coleus plant propagation a try!

Propagating Coleus from Cuttings - Two coleus plants in small pots on the deck
Propagating Coleus from Cuttings – Two coleus plants in small pots on the deck (2021)

What is the best method of coleus plant propagation?

Some say the easiest way is to propagate coleus cuttings in water. It’s quick and nearly effortless. Once the roots grow, you will still need to transplant your rooted coleus cuttings from water to soil.

For this reason, others, like myself, may prefer propagating coleus cuttings in soil. This way, the roots are already established and you don’t need to transfer rooted coleus cuttings out of the water and into the soil.

Of course, coleus plant propagation can work well with soil or water. Choose the method that works best for you!

DIY Coleus Plant Propagation

It takes only moments to begin the process of coleus propagation from cuttings. Successful rooting of coleus came quickly in our experience.

We tried starting coleus from cuttings in soil and it worked very well and quickly at that.

Likewise, we’ve also grown the coleus cousin basil from cuttings in water. Both methods work well, so I’ll give you the scoop here!

Here are some helpful step-by-step instructions for how to propagate coleus.

Propagating Coleus and Transplanting Successful Cuttings in the Garden - Plant and Hand Spade on Stone Walkway
Propagating Coleus and Transplanting Successful Cuttings in the Garden – Plant and Hand Spade on Stone Walkway.
Look at the tiny new growth in the center! These new leaves are growing after only two weeks time from taking the cutting!

Propagating Coleus Cuttings in Water

It doesn’t get much simpler than propagating coleus in water! Try these tips to get coleus clippings to root in water.

  1. Cut a small stem piece of coleus from the mother plant. It should be about 3 inches long or so.
  2. Remove a few leaves so the plant can focus its energy on growing roots.
  3. Place the coleus cuttings in a vase or container with about an inch of water.
  4. Set the vase or container on a windowsill that gets some indirect sunlight.
  5. Check the water level daily and replace the water every other day or so.
  6. Monitor daily. Coleus water propagation is complete when a large number of roots emerge.
  7. When you do see a healthy root system, you can transfer the rooted coleus to soil.

Growing coleus in water is so easy and would be a fun gardening project for young kids to enjoy!

Propagating Coleus Cuttings in Soil

Starting coleus from cuttings is simple and takes even fewer steps than coleus water propagation.

Follow these easy steps we used to multiply our own coleus plants!

  1. Begin by taking coleus cuttings. Like basil, you can just cut or pinch off the top few inches of the stem with the growing point.
  2. Continue by planting coleus cuttings directly in moist potting mix.
  3. Check daily for moisture needs and lightly water if needed.
  4. Watch for signs of new growth in the leaf joints or if any roots emerge near the soil surface.
  5. When the coleus propagation seems to be a success, consider hardening off the plants to help them adjust to the outdoor climate.

We found coleus propagation in soil to be extremely easy and low maintenance. I’d highly recommend trying it this way so you don’t have to do the added step of transplanting from water to soil.

Rooted Coleus Cuttings in Soil - Ready to Plant!
Rooted Coleus Cuttings in Soil – Ready to Plant!

Coleus Plant Propagation Tips

Now that you know how to propagate coleus from cuttings in water OR soil, you can focus on a few tips.

  • Choose a healthy stem cutting.
  • Try both coleus plant propagation methods to see which you prefer.
  • Sell or give away extra plants you propagate!
  • Write the date on a piece of tape on the pot or vase if you are interested in seeing how long it takes to propagate coleus. (In my experience, it took about a week! Not too long!)

Finally, my best coleus plant propagation tip is – just do it! This type of coleus propagation is so simple and enjoyable. The results came quickly for us in our own efforts propagating coleus plants at home.

Even our daughters enjoyed seeing how quickly coleus cuttings rooted in soil. We turned one successful plant into two!

(And, if we had more time, I surely would’ve done even more!)

Did You Know – Coleus is related to basil! Both are part of the Lamiaceae family.

It didn’t surprise me how easily we found success in propagating coleus. The coleus plant propagation process basically mirrors our efforts in propagating basil.

By the way – if you enjoyed this post, you might also like our post on How to Propagate Coral Bells! Heuchera is another easy plant to propagate!

Have you tried propagating coleus plants in your own garden? Do you have any questions about the process or other coleus propagation tips to share?

Always love to hear from you, dear readers!

Happy Gardening!

07.17.2023 – Updated to add link to Coral Bells post and also bolded headings and made images full size.

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