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Why Is My Coleus Losing Color?

Coleus flowers are known for their bright and vibrant foliage, regardless of the variety. However, there are cases where they start losing these colors. If this is what your plant is experiencing, you may be confused about why it is happening. Is that natural, or are you doing something wrong? We have researched the reasons behind this for you. 

There are two main reasons Coleus flowers may lose their color.

The first one is due to the plant's aging. The Coleus leaves may lose their color because they no longer get the same amount of nutrients from the plant as they grow old. That is natural since the supply of nutrients shifts towards the newer foliage.

The second can be due to the lack of essential elements such as light, moisture in soil, temperature, and fertilizer.

Does losing the plant's color means that the plant is dying? Can you still save it? If yes, what do you need to do to bring back the color that the Coleus should have? We will answer each of these thoroughly and provide you with the necessary solutions. If you are interested in learning them, keep on reading. 

Close-up a type of miana or coleus flower species with yellow and purple patterns, Why Is My Coleus Losing Color

Reasons Why Your Coleus Plant Is Losing Color

If you are one of the people who use the Coleus plant as an outdoor or indoor element, losing its colorful palette can be a serious concern. The change in its color can indicate that there is something wrong with the plant. 

Red leaves of the coleus plant, Plectranthus scutellarioides, pot plant

The good news is you can gain back the color. But first, you need to understand what caused this problem in the first place. By learning the root of the issue, you will know what to do (which we will discuss later) to address it adequately and prevent it from happening again.

The Plant Is Old

When a leaf fully matures,  it will receive fewer nutrients from the xylem, causing color changes. Why does this happen? Because the leaf has reached its final stage (known as leaf senescence).

This means that the leaf has reached its shell life and is about to fall off the plant naturally. The same thing happens to your Coleus. But do not worry, as this is a cycle of plants, and new leaves will eventually grow to replace the old ones. 

Too Much Or Too Less Amount Of Light

Coleus plant. A mixture of colors. Different varieties of coleus. Assortment of potted house plants. colorful leaves pattern. Burgundy-green leaves of coleus close-up.

One of the primary reasons Coleus can maintain its colors is the amount of light it receives.

The more sunlight, the more intense and dark the foliage's palette will be. If your plant is not getting enough light from the sun or artificial light, it will lose its color.

However, this does not mean you can leave the Coleus plant plainly under the scorching sun. You must know whether the variety of Coleus you have requires full sun or dappled shade to ensure that it will not be overexposed. If overexposed, the plant will turn white or bleached. 

If you have no idea which category your plant falls into, we have a list prepared for you.

Coleus Types For Full Sun

Here are the names of Coleus plants that can tolerate full sun

  • Blonde bombshell
  • Pink Chaos
  • Saturn
  • Wicked witch
  • Coleosaurus
  • Main street rodeo drive
  • Newly Noir
  • Electric lime
  • Coleus henna
  • Redhead
  • Inferno
  • Wasabi
  • Marquee red carpet coleus
  • Golden dreams
  • Sedona sunset
  • Coleus box office bronze

Coleus Types For Dappled Shade

Unlike the types of Coleus above, which can withstand direct sunlight, the list of Coleus variants below has to be under some shade.

  • Honey crisp
  • Stained glassworks molten lava and eruption
  • Cranberry bog

Not Enough Or Too Much Water In The Soil

woman showing plant for indoor potting. Step by step potting of yellow, pink and green leaves of the coleus plant, Plectranthus scutellarioides in a small pot. selective focus on subject.

Like any other plant, too much water can drown a Coleus since excessive liquid takes up the space intended for oxygen. And when it is underwatered, it is deprived of the moisture it needs.

Both will result in discoloration, wrinkling, wilting, or drooping of the leaves. But how would you know if you are giving too little or too much water? 

Underwatered Coleus has dry soil and wilting leaves. Meanwhile,  overwatered Coleus has more signs that you can check. Please take a look at them below.

  • The leaves are turning pale yellow and have brown patches.
  • Fungi are present in the soil.
  • The root is rotting.
  • The plant is growing slower than it should be.

It Cannot Withstand The Temperature

Another reason why your Coleus may be losing color is that it cannot tolerate the temperature in the environment where it is. Coleus is very sensitive to cold and does not thrive in extreme heat either, despite being a tropical plant.

Note that the temperature we are talking about is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit and more than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. So the Coleus plant will get harmed if you are not transferring it to a warmer or cooler place when it has to.

A good practice you can follow is "overwintering," where you transfer the Coleus into a space that will help them survive the winter season. Move the pot to a spot inside your house where sunlight is present to absorb light when the area is too cold. 

Feeding The Plant An Unnecessary Amount Of Fertilizer

The last probable cause of your Coleus' loss of color is over-fertilization. The way this plant needs to be fertilized depends on the kind of fertilizer you are going to use.

For example, you should only feed your Coleus nitrogen-rich organic fertilizers once every 45 to 60 days. So, consult a professional gardener if you are unsure how much and when to put fertilizer.

Do you want to make your Coleus bushy but do not know how to do it? Read this article to learn how: How To Make Coleus Bushy [Step By Step Guide]

How Often Should A Coleus Be Watered?

How often you should water your Coleus plant depends on where it is planted, whether in a pot or the ground, what kind of climate it lives in, and how many they are together. 

A bushy Coleus should be watered once a week with a gallon of water. The reason behind the infrequent watering is that the plant's leaves and branches shade the soil underneath it, so the liquid will take some time to dry.

On the other hand, water a new Coleus at least once daily. Its leaves and branches are not big enough to cover the soil where it sits, so they get exposed to the sun and dry faster.

Note that the hotter the climate is in your location, the more frequently you have to water the Coleus. Doing so will keep the plant hydrated. 

Take a look at this video to learn and help you understand better. 

How To Know If You Need To Water Your Coleus

You will know if it is time to water your Coleus plant by checking how moist the soil is. Dip a finger an inch deep into the soil to check whether it is still damp or not. If it is not anymore, that is your cue to pour water over it.

To avoid overwatering and root rot, use a plastic pot with drains at the bottom instead of terracotta pots. The reason behind this preference is that terracotta pots are porous. This allows them to absorb moisture from the soil.

While that may be good for plants that do not require moisture in their soil, for Coleus, it is the opposite since it prefers damp soil.

How Long Do Coleus Plants Live?

A Coleus can live for a year. However, this lifespan can most likely extend to 3 to 4 years when kept indoors and watched under certain conditions. If you want to prolong the Coleus plant's life, ensure that you take care of it properly.

Are you curious about how cold the Coleus can tolerate? This article will tell you the answer, so go and check it out: How Cold Can Coleus Tolerate? [Will One Survive The Winter]?

How Do You Bring Back An Overwatered Plant?

Step by step potting of yellow, pink and green leaves of the coleus plant, Plectranthus scutellarioides in a small pot. watering of plant. selective focus on subject.

Two ways to save an overwatered Coleus are: getting rid of the excess water or moving the plant to a new pot. Now, which one is the best solution for you? The answer will depend on the condition of the roots.

You can let the soil dry if the root is not damaged. The only thing you need to do is to move the pot to a sunny location. Let it stay there for 4 to 5 hours a day until the top layer of the soil is dry. Once no moisture is present, resume watering it correctly for the next two weeks. 

On the other hand, if the roots are rotting, you will need to repot the plant. This process means that after you clean the root, you must provide the plant with a new pot, soil, and other treatment solutions. 

In Summary

There are several factors that can lead to a Coleus losing its color. It may be because of a natural phenomenon called leaf senescence, where the plant focuses on supplying nutrients from the matured leaf to the newer and younger parts of the plant for them to grow.

The Coleus may be getting too much or too little light, fertilizer, or water. And lastly, the plant's location has a temperature lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit and above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can keep its vibrant and bright color by ensuring that it is getting the sufficient amount of elements that it needs and that you are taking care of it properly.