Should You Deadhead Coleus? A Guide to Enhancing Your Coleus Plants

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on deadheading coleus plants. If you’re a coleus enthusiast and want to maximize the beauty and foliage of your plants, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll answer the burning question: should you deadhead coleus? We’ll debunk common misconceptions, provide practical tips on deadheading, and explore the benefits it brings to your coleus plants.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to enhance the vibrancy and vitality of your coleus garden!

Photo by ignartonosbg on Pixabay

Understanding the Nature of Coleus Plants

Before we delve into the details of deadheading coleus, it’s essential to understand the nature of these fascinating plants.

Coleus, scientifically known as Plectranthus scutellarioides, is a tender perennial that can thrive for several years in optimal conditions. However, in regions with cold winters, coleus behaves as an annual due to its sensitivity to low temperatures.

If you reside in zones 10 or 11, where the winters are mild, you can enjoy the presence of coleus plants in your garden year-round.

Debunking Misconceptions: Do Coleus Die After Flowering?

There is some misinformation and confusion surrounding the topic of coleus flowering. Many people mistakenly believe that coleus plants die after flowering. However, this is not entirely accurate.

Coleus is a resilient plant that can survive long after its flowering stage. The misconception arises from the fact that coleus plants in cold winter regions behave as annuals, and the onset of winter causes them to perish.

In reality, coleus is a tender perennial that can live for many years, provided it is protected from freezing temperatures.

The Advantages of Deadheading Coleus

Now that we have clarified the nature of coleus plants, let’s explore the benefits of deadheading. Although coleus flowers can be visually appealing, they are not the primary reason gardeners cultivate these plants.

The true allure lies in their stunning and colorful foliage. Deadheading coleus entails removing any developing flowers.

This strategic practice directs the plant’s energy towards foliage growth rather than flower and seed production. The result? Lush, vibrant foliage that enhances the overall aesthetics of your coleus plants1.

There are several compelling advantages to deadheading coleus:

  1. Enhanced Foliage Growth: By removing flowers, you redirect the plant’s energy towards producing more leaves, which is the primary objective when cultivating coleus.
  2. Tidier Appearance: Deadheading keeps your coleus plants neat and tidy. Removing the flowers prevents them from wilting and cluttering the plant.
  3. Encourages Bushier Growth: Lightly trimming the plant through deadheading stimulates the growth of side branches, resulting in a fuller and bushier coleus plant.

Methods of Deadheading Coleus

Now that you understand the benefits of deadheading, let’s explore two easy methods to implement this practice effectively.

Method 1: Pinching the Tips

The first method involves pinching off the flower tips with your fingers as soon as you notice their development. This simple and tactile approach allows you to control the deadheading process.

By pinching the tips, you prevent the flowers from fully forming and redirect the plant’s energy towards foliage growth. Additionally, this method helps in maintaining a neater appearance by removing any unsightly flower spikes.

Method 2: Pruning Further Down

The second method involves a more comprehensive approach to deadheading. As the flowers progress and become more prominent, it’s time to prune them further down. This method is particularly useful when multiple flower spikes have formed on the plant.

By cutting off the flowers and trimming the plant a little further down, you not only remove the flowers but also stimulate the growth of new side branches, resulting in a bushier coleus plant1.

It’s important to note that when employing the second method, removing some of the leaves underneath the flower spike is perfectly acceptable and will not harm the plant. In fact, it can further encourage the growth of new foliage.

Identifying Coleus Varieties with Late Flowering

If you’re interested in prolonging the period before your coleus plants start flowering, certain varieties are known for their late bloom.

By choosing these varieties, you can enjoy the vibrant foliage of coleus for an extended period. Here are some coleus varieties that typically delay flowering until late summer or early fall:

  • ColorBlaze Wicked Witch
  • ColorBlaze Torchlight
  • ColorBlaze Chocolate Drop
  • ColorBlaze Golden Dreams
  • ColorBlaze Rediculous

These varieties exhibit vigorous growth and offer a stunning array of colors and patterns. By selecting these late-flowering varieties, you can enjoy the foliage of coleus plants for an extended period before needing to deadhead any flowers.

Practical Tips for Deadheading Coleus

To ensure you effectively deadhead your coleus plants and maximize their potential, here are some practical tips to keep in mind:

  1. Regular Inspection: Regularly inspect your coleus plants for any signs of flowering. By catching the flowers early, you can prevent them from fully developing and divert the plant’s energy towards foliage growth.
  2. Precision Pruning: When employing method two of deadheading, ensure you prune the flowers and excess foliage with precision. By making clean cuts, you promote healthy growth and minimize the risk of damaging the plant.
  3. Sterilize Your Tools: Before deadheading, it’s essential to sterilize your pruning tools to prevent the spread of diseases or infections. Wiping the blades with rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant solution will ensure a clean and hygienic pruning process.
  4. Monitor Growth: Keep a close eye on the growth of your coleus plants after deadheading. Observe the emergence of new side branches and foliage. This will give you insight into the effectiveness of your deadheading efforts and allow you to adjust your approach if needed.

By incorporating these tips into your coleus care routine, you can maintain healthy and visually stunning plants throughout the growing season.


In conclusion, deadheading coleus is a beneficial practice that enhances the overall beauty and foliage of these remarkable plants. By diverting the plant’s energy towards foliage growth, deadheading promotes lush and vibrant leaves, resulting in a more visually appealing coleus garden.

Whether you choose to pinch the tips or prune further down, implementing this practice will keep your coleus plants tidy and encourage bushier growth. Don’t forget to explore late-flowering varieties if you wish to prolong the period before deadheading becomes necessary. With these tips in mind, you can take your coleus gardening to new heights and enjoy the stunning foliage these plants have to offer!

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