How To Repot Coleus Plant? (Step By Step Guide)

This is a complete guide on repotting coleus plants. we cover topics including when and how to repot coleus with step-by-step instructions.

Featured image of how to repot coleus.

If you grow any variety of coleus as an indoor plant, it is essential to understand the repotting process.

In fact, for proper growth, you must repot coleus plant at least once every year.

This article will help you understand whether your coleus requires a repotting now. Also, we provide a step-by-step guide on how to repot coleus plant successfully without damaging the roots.

Let’s get started.

When To Repot Coleus?

If your coleus plant is healthy, they need to be repotted at least once a year throughout its lifespan to support its rapid growth. On the other hand, if the plant has problems like root rot, bacterial or fungal diseases, nutrient deficient soil, etc, then you should repot them immediately to save the coleus from further damage.

If you are planning to repot a healthy coleus plant, it is recommended to do it only in the spring or early summer. It is because these plants produce a lot of energy during these months and can recover from transplant shock much quicker compared to cooler months.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why you may need to repot coleus.

1. Overgrows the existing pot

Coleus plants are one of the fastest growers and that makes them overgrow their existing pot very quickly.

If you provide perfect growing conditions, most varieties of coleus plants can grow a maximum of 36 inches in just one growing season. And, a plant 36 inches high will easily tip over, if the root system is confined to a small pot.

It is recommended that you repot the coleus plant before every growing season in a pot that’s at least two sizes more than the previous one.

2. Root rot

Root rot is one of the most commonly seen plant problems among coleus houseplant owners. And, there is no other way to save your plant from root rot other than repotting.

If your coleus plant is showing symptoms like a lot of yellow and droopy leaves, stunted growth, and a rotten smell from the soil, there is a high chance that your plant is suffering from root rot.

To save your coleus from dying, immediately treat the roots and repot the plant in a new pot with fresh soil. The detailed process is explained in the next section.

3. Fungal & bacterial infection

Just like root rot, fungal and bacterial infection demands you to repot the plant in a new pot with fresh soil.

In most cases, bacterias and fungi grow in the soil. If they are only in the top few layers, fungicides and other natural pesticides like neem water can be used to treat the soil.

However, if the infection keeps returning despite treatment, the infection may have spread to the deeper layers of soil. When this happens, it is advisable to repot the plant in a fresh container with sterile soil.

4. Bad pot

Among all the reasons discussed so far, this is one of the least voted reasons by houseplant owners in a survey regarding causes of repotting plants.

The majority of the time, when you purchase a plant from a nursery, it will come with cheap plastic pots. It has been established via numerous research that plants prefer earthen pots made of ceramic or clay over plastic containers.

Sometimes, the pot that came with the plant might not even have dedicated drainage holes which are necessary for proper watering and drainage.

And, in these circumstances repotting into a better pot is advised.

Few people repot their coleus to a fancy-looking pot to improve the overall aesthetics. It is not a bad thing, but make sure that you are not doing it very frequently. Repotting is stressful for the plant, and should be done only if the plant demands it.

So far we’ve discussed all the common reasons why you should repot a coleus plant. Now, let’s take a look at how to repot coleus plant with step-by-step instructions.

How To Repot Coleus?

To repot a coleus plant, first, choose a good pot and coleus-specific potting soil. Then, in a sterilized work area uproot the plant from the existing pot and remove the existing soil completely. If needed, treat the roots and place the plant in the new pot filled with fresh potting soil. Once the soil is filled to the top, water thoroughly so that the roots and soil are set together in the new pot.

Let’s take a look at the step-by-step instructions so that you won’t stress your coleus while repotting.

1. Water your plant a day before

It is recommended to water your coleus plant thoroughly a day before repotting.

This ensures that the plant roots won’t dry much due to repotting process. Additionally, it helps in uprooting the plant, since wet soil is easier to remove from the pot.

So, thoroughly water the plant from the top without wetting the leaves. Water till the excess water starts to drain out of the drainage holes.

2. Choose the right pot

Choosing the right pot for your coleus is like choosing a new home. The plant should feel comfortable and grow comfortably for at least 8 to 12 months.

When choosing a pot for coleus, you should consider three parameters: size, material, and drainage holes.

Since coleus has a high growth rate, it is recommended to buy a container that is 2 or 3 sizes bigger than the existing pot. Regarding material, earthen pots like ceramic and clay do best for coleus plants.

3. Prepare a coleus-specific soil

When you have the pot ready, the next item to get is coleus-specific potting soil.

Depending on your preference, either purchase a readymade potting soil or mix your own using recommended materials. If you prefer buying the soil, any coleus-specific soil mixture will do fine. If they are not available, purchase a good indoor potting soil with a good percentage of perlite or vermiculite.

If you are planning the DIY route, your soil mixture must have equal parts of coco coir, fine bark, and perlite. Additionally, you can mix some leaf compost to improve the nutrients.

4. Setup the work area

Once you have all the items, make sure that everything is clean and tidy.

Repotting requires some space. It is recommended to do it in a space where a sink with running water is available. Assemble all the items there even before touching your plant.

Aldo, make sure that the space and all the tools you use are sterilized so that any infection is prevented.

5. Uproot the plant & loosen roots

Once everything is set up, it’s time for the hands to get dirty.

Wear gardening gloves and slowly remove the coleus plant from the existing pot.

Since you’ve watered the plant day before, it must be easy by slightly pull the plant stem upwards. If it’s not coming, then run around the pot edge with a sterilized knife. While using a knife, don’t damage any roots mistakenly.

When the plant is fully taken outside, remove the soil completely by loosening the roots. It is recommended to use running water so that soil is removed completely.

6. Treat the roots if necessary

Once the coleus root is visible, check for root rot or any other diseases. If found, cut off the damaged roots and dip the remaining healthy roots in a hydrogen peroxide solution.

Also, you can treat the roots with a rooting hormone solution to trigger faster root growth in its new pot and soil.

7. Put your coleus in the new pot

After treating, place the plant on the side.

Fill one-third of the new pot with a fresh potting mixture. Then place the treated plant inside the pot and fill the remaining pot. Depending on the pot size, leave at least 3 to 4 inches of space at the top of the container to water efficiently.

8. Provide proper care

Once the coleus is planted in the new container, water the plant thoroughly so that the roots and fresh potting soil will bind together.

If you’ve reached this far, congratulations! You’ve repotted the plant successfully. But, the job is not done yet.

The repotted coleus plant will be in a state called transplant shock which will take up to 2 weeks to recover completely. Depending on how proper your care routine is, it can recover in a couple of days or a few weeks.

We have a collection of growing guides for different coleus varieties. Check out the library to learn about the variety that you are growing.

Repotting Coleus – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you are a beginner and repotting a coleus plant for the first time, you may have a lot of doubts. In this section, we will be answering some of the common questions that were asked in different gardening forums and threads.

How often to repot coleus?

Since coleus is a fast-growing plant, it is recommended to repot them every year or three times in two years. On average, coleus plants live 3 to 4 years indoors with proper care. So, you should aim to repot a coleus plant 5 to 6 times throughout its lifespan.

What is the best time to repot coleus plants?

The best time to repot the coleus plant is either spring or early summer. Coleus plants grow fastest during these seasons and they will get enough time to bind into the new potting soil and grow. Also, these plants generate a lot of energy during these growing seasons which will help the plant to recover from transplant shock quickly.

How do you know if coleus needs to be repotted?

If your coleus plant is healthy, then there are no other signs to look for other than roots coming out of the drainage holes due to root bound or the plant falling over due to a small pot. However, if your plant is facing any bacterial or fungal infections, symptoms can vary from discoloration in leaves, damp soil, mold, etc. Depending on the severity of the infection, you might need to repot the plant.

Does coleus like to be root bound?

Coleus plants do not like to be root bound. They are fast growers with a shallow root system that needs more space to grow and expand.

Does coleus need big pots?

Coleus plants grow very fast and can reach up to 36 inches in a year if proper care is given. They do well in small pots, but the problem is weight balance. When the plant is very huge and the root system is confined to a small pot, the plant will fall due to weight imbalance. So, it is always recommended to grow coleus in a bigger pot.

Wrapping Up

For beginners, repotting coleus might seem like a tedious process. 

And, it’s true to an extent. But, when you have a proper guide, the process becomes easily doable.

If you have a healthy coleus plant, repot them at least once a year. However, when your plant experience problems like root rot, and bacterial and fungal infections, you must repot the plant immediately to save the plant from further damage.

Always remember that repotting coleus is a stressful activity for your plant. So, make sure that you are providing proper care afterward to recover the plant from transplant stress faster.


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. Bio Control Potential Of Pseudomonas Fluorescens Against Coleus Root Rot Disease, Journal Of Plant Pathology & Microbiology.
  2. Teaching Horticulture Skills, American Horticultural Therapy Association Via Jstor.
  3. Evaluation Of Soil Characteristics And Yield Variation Of Coleus (Coleus Forskohlii) In Different Agro-Climatic Zones Of Tamil Nadu, India, International Journal Of Chemical Studies.
  4. Coleus Species: Solenostemon Scutellarioides, Review Article Planta Activa.

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