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How Long Do Coleus Plants Live? + Tips for Overwintering

How Long Do Coleus Plants Live? + Tips for Overwintering

As the summer comes to an end, your porch or patio may lose its vibrant touch due to cooler temperatures. This may especially affect your coleus plants, which are known for adding a burst of lively color during the summer months.

However, coleus plants are beautiful and hardy plants if provided with the right environment.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about helping your coleus survive winter and live as long as possible.

How long do coleus plants live for? Coleus plants can live for up to several years. The lifespan of an individual plant ultimately depends on the conditions of its environment and whether or not they are ideal. Ideal environmental conditions include consistent warmth, morning sun, afternoon shade, and rich but well-draining soil. 

Since coleus plants prefer warmer weather, and they are native to Southeast Asia as a more tropical plant, overwintering is a crucial part of keeping them healthy. 

Knowing what to expect from your coleus and how to care for it based on your growing zone is key. Keep reading to find out all the details.

Coleus Plants’ Life Span

Like many other kinds of plants, the coleus plant’s lifespan varies based on whether it’s growing in its ideal environment.

Although your Growing Zone may not naturally provide everything your coleus needs to thrive, you can emulate its native environment to keep it growing.

Coleus Life Span in Warm Regions

Coleus plants grow in the wild in parts of Southeast Asia through Australia.

In these warm regions and other locations with similar temperatures, coleus plants can live for years as perennials if protected from any cold weather and provided with their optimal environment.

Coleus Life Span in Cold Regions

In colder regions, including many in North America, coleus plants are sold as an annual plant that offers vibrant color and visual interest only for the warmer months.

When planted in regions like this, the eventual cold weather will kill the coleus plant, which prefers warmer temperatures.

Is Coleus a Perennial or an Annual?

In its natural habitat, the coleus plant is a perennial. It will continue to live for years in its optimal conditions, which include rich but well-draining soil and a fair amount of morning sun and afternoon shade.

However, in many places where coleus plants are most popular, they function similarly to typical annual plants, which grow and flower through the warm seasons and die when frost comes. 

What Temperatures Are Too Cold for Coleus?

Like most tropical plants, coleus plants will not live in temperatures below freezing. Beyond that, temperatures under 40℉ will also likely damage them and lead to plant death.

If you live in a Zone that doesn’t experience frost, such as Growing Zones 10 or 11, your year-round temperatures are likely to support healthy coleus growth outdoors. 

How Long Will a Coleus Live Indoors?

Even if you live in a frost-prone zone, you can still cultivate happy and healthy coleus plants that will survive for years.

Overwintering your plants inside is the best way to protect them from frost.

If you can closely emulate its ideal growing conditions indoors, a coleus plant will thrive for years as a houseplant.

Although it prefers summers spent outdoors, bright indoor light and protection from air conditioning or heating drafts will keep indoor coleus happy.

How To Prepare Coleus for Winter

A variety of brightly colored coleus plants thriving in a garden.

In Zones that experience cold fall and winter months, it’s important to plant out your approach to overwintering your coleus before the first signs of frost.

Whether you have planted or potted coleus, here’s how to make sure your vibrant plants survive the winter months.

Preparing Potted Coleus for Winter

If you have an adequately rooted coleus plant in an outdoor planter, you have several options for preparing it for indoor overwintering.

For coleus planted in large planters, you can simply move it to a smaller container before the weather gets too cold.

Whether you keep it in its summer container or transplant it into something smaller, make sure to check your coleus and its dirt for pests or freeloaders.

Soaking the soil in a 1:4 hydrogen peroxide and water mix is a safe way to kill pests in the dirt and make sure that you don’t bring any bugs inside with your plant for the winter.

Preparing Planted Coleus for Winter in Warm Regions 

If you live in a warmer region, planted coleus can survive the winter outdoors.

However, it’s a good idea to still pay it some attention to help it come back better than ever during the next growing season.

Although it won’t die during winter, it’s likely to lose its color and enter a somewhat dormant stage.

Make sure that you’ve done all the necessary pruning by midsummer to help shape the plant as desired and give it a boost next growing season.

Give the plant a thorough inspection for pests and other problems, treat any issues, mulch the area surrounding the plant deeply, and continue to water as necessary through the winter months.

Digging and Potting Planted Coleus To Bring Indoors

If your coleus has been growing in the ground all summer long, it might need a little extra help to overwinter well.

Before the temperatures drop, dig it up and prepare to pot it. Make sure to get as much of the root ball as you can.

You may also wish to cut back its top growth to reduce the strain on the plant once it’s potted. This can help avoid stressing the plant so that it adjusts to being indoors better. 

Make sure to use well-draining soil that won’t be too heavy or stay too wet through indoor waterings during the winter, as this can lead to root rot.

Taking Coleus Cuttings To Grow Indoors

Want the best of both worlds? You can keep your coleus growing outdoors and also take cuttings to root indoors.

Simply cut 3-4 inch sections of the stem, remove any leaves from the bottom portion, and let the cuttings root in water.

Once you see strong roots form, you can transfer the cuttings to well-draining soil or peat and watch the new plants grow.

Related Questions:

Have more questions about keeping your coleus healthy? Keep reading!

Do Coleus Plants Live All Year Long?

Your coleus plant can live all year long if you care for it appropriately.

Growers in warm regions can often support outdoor coleus growth year round, but in colder regions, coleus will need to be overwintered well for it to survive.

Is Coleus a Good Houseplant?

If you keep your coleus plant indoors full time, it can live happily for years if provided with the right care.

Bright indoor light that avoids western-facing windows will keep your coleus from being burned, and fast-draining soil will keep coleus plants’ roots happy.


Coleus plants are beautiful plants that add vibrancy and color to the summer months.

However, you can enjoy their wide variety of colors and patterns for years to come, even in cooler regions, if you overwinter these leafy gems properly.