Coleus Henna Care Guide (Growing, Caring, Propagation & More)

This is a complete guide on how to grow coleus henna plants in your indoor or outdoor space. We cover all the topics including seed germination, caring, pruning, etc.

Coleus Henna Featured Image

If you are looking to add some bright colors to your garden, coleus henna is a good option.

Here is a complete guide on how to grow coleus henna including everything you need to know starting from seed germination to up to pruning and propagation.

For a quick look, here are the topics that we discuss in detail.

Let’s get started.

Coleus Henna Profile

Scientific NameSolenostemon Scutellarioides ‘Henna’
Common Name(s)Coleus Henna, Solenostemon ‘Henna’
Care LevelBeginner friendly
OriginAsia, Australia
Plant TypeHerbaceous annual
USDA ZoneUSDA 10 – 12
Light RequirementsFull sun, Partial sun
Temperature Preferences60 – 75oF
Humidity PreferencesHigh humidity, >60%
Water RequirementsSlightly moist
Soil PreferenceWell-drained & Nutrient rich
Growth RateFast grower
PropagationStem Cuttings & Seed
BloomLate to never flowering
ToxicityMildly toxic

Where To Buy Coleus Henna On Sale?

Even though coleus has evolved from outdoor plants to indoor plants in a lot of geographies, finding specific cultivars are a problem still today.

The commonly grown coleus varieties like blumei, wizard mix, kong rose, etc are easily available in most of the local nurseries, but finding uncommon beauties like henna, black dragon, etc is hard.

For a live-rooted plant, the best bet is to check any local nurseries specializing in rare or uncommon plants.

If they don’t, try your luck with online vendors like Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, etc where different sellers are available. If you go via the online route, it is recommended to buy seeds instead of rooted plants because coleus henna has very soft leaves, that may easily get damaged while shipping.

Coleus Henna Care Routine

To care for coleus henna, start by planting them in a well-drained highly nutritious soil and place it in a spot where it gets either full sun or partial sun. Additionally, make sure that they are receiving 60 – 750F temperature and more than 60% humidity. For bushier and vibrant growth, adding fertilizer is also recommended.

For a closer look at the optimal coleus henna routine, let’s go through each of the various care aspects.

1. Coleus Henna Light Requirements

The majority of the coleus varieties including coleus henna are commercially grown plants that are rated to grow in a variety of light conditions.

Generally, coleus henna plants thrive in either full sun or partial shade.

Depending on the intensity of the sunlight, the shade or variegation in the leaves changes. The plants kept in full sun will exhibit wider pink color whereas plants in shade have a wider yellow color.

If you are not sure where to put your coleus henna, simply put it in a spot where the light seems to be bright. Observe the leaves for a couple of weeks and move the plant accordingly.

2. Coleus Henna Water Requirements

On the plant scale, henna coleus plants have a medium rating on water requirements.

There is no one size fits all method for watering your coleus henna. The frequency of watering needs to be adjusted according to your area and the seasons.

For example, if you are living in southeast Asia, then you will need to water daily to compensate for the high temperatures and humidity. On the other hand, for someone growing coleus in colder regions, watering once every few days is all needed.

Checking the moisture level in the first few layers of the soil mixture is the easiest way to determine whether or not you need to water your coleus henna. Water them if it is getting dry; if not, wait till the next day and repeat.

3. Coleus Henna Soil Mix

Like other coleus cultivars, Henna Coleus prefers a soil combination with good aeration, water holding capacity, and high nutritional concentrations.

These plants will thrive in peat moss-enriched potting soils. Simply combine perlite or vermiculite and peat moss in a 1:3 ratio if you don’t want to mix many components. If you don’t get access to moss, you can use coconut coir as well.

This is a basic soil mixture. If you want to make sure the soil is perfect for coleus henna, read our full guide on the best soil for coleus plants.

4. Coleus Henna Temperature & Humidity

Henna coleus plants do well in temperatures ranging from 60 to 750F.

They come from tropical and subtropical regions where the temperature never falls below 600F. As a result of this, they cannot survive even a slight cold.

For henna coleus plants growing outdoors, you must move the plant indoors. Otherwise, the plant will die right after the first frost of the season.

Just like how temperature, light, water, and soil are important for the coleus henna plant’s growth, humidity also plays an important role. These plants demand locations with at least 50% humidity (60% is recommended) because of their subtropical nature.

5. Coleus Henna Fertilizer Requirements

Coleus henna plants are naturally fast growers and they do not require aggressive fertilizing.

But, if you want them to put our vibrant colors with a bushy appearance, applying some basic plant feed is recommended. For henna coleus, we advise using a well-balanced all-purpose fertilizer. The 10-10-10 formulas are all viable options.

If you are using potting soil with fertilizer mixed, then you don’t need to apply fertilizer separately for the first year.

Henna Coleus Pruning

Mostly pruning is done to make the plant grow faster and bushier. But, coleus henna plants are naturally fast growers and do not need much pruning.

However, sometimes the faster growth rate of this plant can cause some problems. It will fill up the container or space very quickly.  Also, when the plant grows vigorously, the shape and size can turn a little weird and which might hinder the beauty of the plant.

In those cases, occasional pruning is ideal. But, make sure to use only sterilized pruning shears or other tools. 

Pruning is a stressful activity for the coleus henna plant. As a result, the plant will be in shock for a few days (maybe a week) and will not put out new growth during the timeframe.

Coleus Henna Propagation

Henna coleus plants can be propagated by both using seed germination and stem cuttings. Additionally, stem cuttings can be propagated in either water or soil depending on your preference. If propagating in water, do add water-soluble fertilizer to improve nutrient density.

If your coleus henna produced flowers, then it is recommended to collect seeds and propagate by seed germination instead of using the stem cutting method. It is not because stem cutting is hard, but seed germination is much more straightforward than the latter.

Since the flowers of these species are not that beautiful, most of the commercially grown coleus henna is a genetically modified premium variety that is very late to flowering or never flowering in moderate indoor or outdoor conditions.

So, the odds of getting seeds from your already existing plant are very limited.

If you are among the lucky gardeners whose coleus henna blooms, then try seed germination. If not, stem cutting is the way forward.

Alternatively, you can buy a new pack of seeds to grow new plants because they are not that expensive.

Nevertheless, I will be explaining both seed germination and stem cutting propagation methods in a step-by-step manner.

1. Propagation By Seed

Before starting to plant seeds, it is recommended to wash or soak the seed in water for at least a few minutes. It is because seeds with moisture content will germinate faster than completely dry ones. 

But, you should also make sure that the soil mixture you use is completely free from fungi or other pests. Because fungi and bacterias can easily kill the seeds with moisture.

Once you are ready with the required potting soil, container, and well-cleaned coleus henna seeds, follow the below step-by-step process.

  • The first step is to fill up the container or tray with the chosen soil mixture.
  • Make small incisions on the soil to place the seeds with at least a few inches gap between them. These incisions should not be more than 1 inch because the deeper the incision, the longer it takes for the new growth to come out.
  • Place one seed in each pit. Add a loose layer of the same potting soil mixture above the seeds. Do not completely close the hole because seeds need some light and air to germinate.
  • The next step is to water the soil. Do not pour water, instead use a spray bottle and lightly mist the top soil layer. Check the soil layer frequently and repeat the spray process.
  • Seed germination needs very high humidity. So, it is recommended to cover the entire container using a plastic sheet so that high humidity can be maintained throughout the time. You should remove the cover only when you need to mist the soil.

After a few weeks (ideally 10 to 15 days), you will see the first growth coming out. At that time you can remove the plastic cover and expose the plant to real-world climatic conditions.

Wait until the first two to three leaves unfurl completely to transplant them into dedicated pots.

Then follow the above-mentioned coleus henna care routine rigorously.

2. Propagation By Stem Cuttings

For taking stem cuttings, the parent coleus henna plant must be mature. Otherwise, the cuttings will not root. It is recommended to have the parent plant at least 4 to 5 months old. 

Also, make sure that you are only using sterilized scissors or other equipment to deal with the coleus henna plant.

Once the plant and sterilized tools are ready, here are the steps to follow.

  • Cut a stem with at least four or five leaves from the parent plant. The total length of the stem should not be more than 4 or 5 inches. Make sure the cut you make is below a leaf node as well.
  • The next step is to remove a couple of leaves from the bottom side so that you can expose those leaf nodes to the rooting medium.
  • If you have access to the rooting hormone, it is highly recommended to apply it to the removed leaf nodes. Coleus will root easily without them, but rooting hormones will make the rooting process much faster.
  • Now it’s time to decide whether you want to propagate coleus henna in soil or water medium.
  • For soil propagation, choose a potting soil that is well drained and very high in nutrients. Fill up the soil in a container and make a 2-inch deep pit and place the stem inside.
  • For water propagation, fill a jar full of water. Add water-soluble fertilizer and place the stem inside the water carefully. Make sure that no leaves are in touch with the water and that only 2 to three inches of stem are submerged inside the water.
  • For any plant including coleus henna, rooting is completely dependent on temperature and humidity. Place the container in a location where it gets bright light, high humidity (>60%), and temperature in the range of 65 to 850F.

After a couple of weeks (ideally 15 to 20 days), you will see new growth in the form of leaves. 

In the case of water propagation, you can see the root growth itself after one or two weeks depending on the nutrient levels in the water. Also, you must replace the water once every few days so that no fungi growth happens.

Henna Coleus Toxicity

Similar to other coleus varieties, coleus henna is not fatal for humans and pets like dogs and cats. However, due to the presence of a compound called diterpene coleonol, it may irritate if ingested.

When working with coleus henna plants, it is recommended to wear gloves because prolonged and frequent contact with the plant’s leaves can induce allergic dermatitis, which results in a red rash. 

There is nothing to worry about and this skin sensitivity could be slight or linger for a short while.

Coleus Henna Care – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In this section, we will answer the most frequently asked questions related to the growing and caring of the coleus henna plant. These questions are mostly taken from gardening forums where beginner plant owners usually hang out.

What is the scientific name of coleus henna?

The scientific name of coleus henna is Solenostemon Scutellarioides ‘Henna’ Coleus. In many plant references, they are also referred to as Solenostemon ‘Henna’.

What are the uses of coleus henna?

Because of the colorful foliage, coley henna plants can be used to fill in between flowering plants in either indoor or outdoor gardens so that they can display bright colors throughout the year. In many outdoor gardens, they are planted in beds in between green foliage plants to make a contrasting appearance as well.

Is coleus henna frost hardy?

Coleus henna plants are not frost-hardy. If they are kept outside, they will die even after the first frost of the year. It is due to the fact that these plants have very soft leaves that cannot withstand temperatures dropping below 50oF.

How fast do coleus henna grow?

Similar to its other siblings, the coleus henna plant is also a fast grower. If proper care is given, it can reach a maximum of 70 cm in height and 50 cm in width.

Can you eat coleus henna?

Coleus henna plants are not edible for humans and animals. They are slightly toxic due to the presence of essential oil components in their foliage, stems, and flowers. 

Is coleus henna perennial?

In multiple plant references, coleus henna is considered to be herbaceous perennial or upright annual. They are known as annuals in areas where winters are predicted to be frosty. However, in areas where the temperature never drops below 50oF, it behaves as a perennial. These plants can live up to three years indoors with the right care.


To back up the information we provide in our articles, the Plantials team only uses high-quality sources published in peer-reviewed university or scientific research journals.

  1. Coleus Species: Solenostemon Scutellarioides, Review Article From Inventi Journal Via Reasearchgate.
  2. The Role Of Light On Foliage Colour Development In Coleus, University Of Florida Via Sciencedirect.
  3. Minimum Daily Light Integral For Growing High-Quality Coleus, American Society For Horticultural Science.
  4. Evaluation Of Soil Characteristics And Yield Variation Of Coleus In India, International Journal Of Chemical Studies.
  5. Light Dependent Changes In The Spatial Localization Of Metabolites In Solenostemon Scutellariodes (Coleus Henna), Via Frontiers In Plant Science.

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