How To Save Overwatered Coleus? (4 Signs & Step By Step Solution)

Wondering whether an overwatered coleus plant can be saved? Read on! We cover everything related to overwatered coleus including signs and a step-by-step recovery solution.

How To Save Overwatered Coleus (4+ Signs & Step By Step Solution))

Have you overwatered the coleus plant and are now unsure if it can be rescued or if it’s too late?

Overwatering is not a healthy habit for your coleus plants. If done for a prolonged period, it may cause serious damage to the root system.

But still, don’t worry. Hope is not lost until the last minute. There are a couple of adjustments you can make to save overwatered coleus.

In this article, we show you the most important details you should know about overwatered coleus. These include,

Let’s get started.

Symptoms Of Overwatered Coleus

The commonly seen symptoms of overwatered coleus are leaf problems like yellowing, curling, and drooping. Other issues like root rot, always wet soil, the presence of fungus, and stunted growth even during the growing season can also be a sign of overwatering.

We will be going through the important and most common symptoms below for a better understanding.

1. Leaf Issues

Although a leaf’s color can signify a variety of things, your coleus will typically become yellow and develop small brown patches when it is overwatered.

There are a couple of coleus varieties that have natural yellow variegation in their foliage. If those plants are overwatered, their variegation starts to fade. Instead of the bright yellow color, you will start to see pale yellow.

Other than the discoloration, the overwatered coleus will have wrinkled, curly, and droopy leaves.

2. Root Rot

If you are overwatering your coleus for a long time, then it is highly likely that your plant might have root rot. And, it is the last thing you want to happen to the coleus plant.

Overwatering your coleus plant will result in always wet soil conditions. 

The roots would then drown as a result of being unable to breathe normally or take up nutrients from the soil due to the excessive amount of water surrounding them.

If the root rot is not fixed on priority, your coleus plant may even die since the root rot causes the soil to lose the nutrients that your coleus plant needs to thrive.

3. Stunted Growth

Coleus plants are considered to be one of the fastest growers in their family. Even in a single growing season, with proper care, they can grow up to 36 inches high.

So, if your coleus is not growing and the growth seems to be stunted, then there is a high chance that it is getting too much water than what it needs. Even though there are a few other causes like sunburn, underwatering, etc also cause stunted growth in coleus, overwatering cannot be neglected. 

When the roots of coleus plants are standing in water, they cannot transport air and other essential nutrients from the soil to support the new growth. As a result, the plant will go dormant and now new leaves will come out.

4. Presence Of Fungi

Coleus plant that is overwatered is a perfect place for fungi to flourish. 

If your plant soil is saturated with water, fungi will be happy to grow on it. Fungi may not always be harmful to your plant, but they may cause the soil to lose nutrients.

To find whether fungi have already found their place in your coleus pots, take a closer look at the top layer of the soil. If you are seeing a white powdery-like substance all over the soil, then it’s time to repot the plant in the new pot after treating it with a fungicide.

How To Save Overwatered Coleus?

To save your overwatered coleus, first, you need to properly analyze how worse the condition is. If the roots are not damaged, then place the plant in full sun to dry out the excess water. However, if roots are damaged, then you need to repot the plant in a new soil after treating root rot to prevent the coleus plant from dying.

Here are the step-by-step guidelines to save your overwatered coleus plant.

Step 1: Analyze the severity

The first step in saving your overwatered coleus is to analyze the current situation of the damage. For that, take a closer look at your coleus plant and check for symptoms.

If you’re seeing the symptoms only for a couple of weeks, then the damage is not that severe and your plant can be easily saved. On the other hand, if you’ve been overwatering your coleus for a long time, then chances are that the damage has been done to the roots and a root level treatment is needed to save the plant.

Depending on the severity of the damage, you should treat the plant.

But one problem with this approach is finding whether your coleus has root rot or not. To make 100% sure that your coleus plant has root rot, you need to uproot the plant out of its pot.

If root rot is present, you can immediately repot the plant. However, if the roots are not damaged, then uprooting the plant is extra stress for your coleus.

To solve this problem, instead of straightaway uprooting the plant, we recommend you remove the excess water in the pot and monitor the plant for a week.

Step 2: Remove the existing water

Removing the excess water from your plant is a straightforward process. All you have to do is move your coleus plant to a spot where it can get full sun for at least 4 to 5 hours a day.

The idea is to dry the soil mixture that has been overwatered.

We recommend you move the plant outdoors so that you can get unfiltered natural sunlight. Nothing dries the overwatered potting mixture better than the full sun exposure.

Repeat the process for a few days until the top few inches of the soil are dry. By this time, the pot should feel a little light because of the removed moisture. 

Now follow a minimalist watering routine for the next 14 days and continuously monitor the plant. If no new leaves are turning yellow, then it is an indication that your plant is recovered.

On the other hand, if leaves are still turning yellow and the plant does not look healthy, then you have to check the roots and repot the plant.

Step 3: Repot the plant

If removing excess water does not fix the plant symptoms, then there is a high chance that your coleus plant has root rot. 

To fix the root rot, follow the step-by-step process detailed below. Before following, make sure that you have all the necessary items required for the repotting process. These include a new pot, fresh coleus-specific potting soil, hydrogen peroxide solution, rooting hormone, and a good fungicide.

Once all of these items are handy, follow the repotting process.

  1. Uproot your coleus plant from the existing pot.
  2. Clean the root ball using running water. Make sure that every bit of soil is removed from the roots before moving to the next step.
  3. Using a sterilized tool, remove all the damaged and unhealthy roots. Rotting roots can be identified by their dark brown or black color and mushy appearance.
  4. Treat the roots with the hydrogen peroxide solution and rooting hormone.
  5. Fill the new pot with fresh potting soil. Additionally, you can treat the soil with a fungicide to reduce the chances of any bacterial or fungal disease in the near future.
  6. Place the treated coleus plant inside the pot. Water the pot to make the soil and roots settle in. Also, move the plant to a spot where it gets good bright light for the next few hours.

Overwatered Coleus – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Overwatered coleus is one of the highly discussed plant problems among coleus owners on different gardening forums on the internet. And, here we are answering some of the commonly asked questions regarding the same.

How do you tell if coleus is overwatered?

Overwatered coleus plants can be identified by analyzing their leaves, roots, and the container where it is planted. The signs to look for are leaf discoloration, decaying roots, dampness in the soil mixture, and stunted or very slow growth even during growing seasons.

Can overwatered coleus recover on their own?

If the damage is minimal, overwatered coleus can recover independently after you start watering the plant properly. However, if the overwatering has affected the plant’s root system and caused root rot then without treating the root rot the chances of the plant recovering its own is minimal.

Wrapping Up

Not just beginners, even experienced gardeners tend to overwater their plants sometimes. So, there is nothing to fret even if your coleus is overwatered as of now.

Just hang in there near your plant and analyze the symptoms. If the damage is minimal, move the plant outdoors and put it somewhere where it gets full sun to dry the extra water.

If the damage has reached roots, then repot your coleus plant on priority following all the steps mentioned in the above guide and within a few weeks, your coleus will return to normal.


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. Effect Of Water Stress On The Physiological And Biochemical Responses Of Two Different Coleus (Plectranthus) Species, Ak Journals.
  2. Production Of Heuchera And Coleus, The University Of Maine.
  3. Root Rot Diseases In Plants: A Review Of Common Causal Agents And Management Strategies, University Of Washington.

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