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Should You Deadhead Coleus? Why This Matters & What To Do

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Should you deadhead coleus? Many people have asked me whether they should be cutting off any flowers that form on their coleus. This post answers this question, and more, so keep reading to find out exactly what to do as I demonstrate on my own plants.



First I’d like to clarify this topic because there is some misinformation and confusion about this.

Coleus is actually a very tender perennial and can live for many years. But for those of us that live in cold winter regions, they will behave as annuals because they are not hardy and are very sensitive to cold and will die when it gets cold enough.

Generally, if you live in zones 10 or 11 or warmer, your coleus can live outdoors year round.


The short answer is yes! No one grows coleus for their flowers. We grow them for their beautiful, colorful foliage.

By removing any flowers that are developing, you’re helping shift the plant’s energy from growing flowers and seeds, to putting energy into growing foliage instead. It will also help keep the plant much tidier (and also encourage a bushier plant)!


First, let’s take a look at what coleus flowers look like.


As soon as you notice this, you can do one of two things. You can either pinch the tips off with your fingers, or snip it a little further down like in the photo below.

In the photo below, the flowering has progressed a lot more, and it’s time to cut it off.


You can see in the photo above that there are multiple flower spikes, so I pruned it a little further down. It’s OK to remove some leaves! This will not harm the plant at all. In fact, this is my preferred method. I prefer to take off the flowers, as well as some of the leaves underneath.

In fact, by trimming it a little further down, you’ll stimulate the plant to grow some new side branches of foliage.

Often times, you’ll already see them on the plant, and once you trim the plant, you’ll stimulate those side branches into growing.


In the photo above, you can see where I cut off the flower spike, and there were already two small branches present. These side branches will now start growing.

Here is another example below. This time, I’m trimming my trailing coleus.


I decided to cut off the whole flower spike as well as one set of leaves.

If you want to take this one step further, there are certain coleus varieties that will hold off on flowering until pretty late in the season. Some hold off longer than others.

From the ones that I’ve grown so far, I’ve found that the following varieties won’t even start to bloom for me until late summer or early Fall! These include:

ColorBlaze Wicked Witch

ColorBlaze Wicked Witch Coleus in mid-August and no signs of any flowers.

ColorBlaze Torchlight

Me with my ColorBlaze Torchlight Coleus in August with no signs of flowers yet.

ColorBlaze Chocolate Drop

This is one of my favorite coleus ever! It is a trailing variety and is a very vigorous grower.

ColorBlaze Chocolate Drop Coleus in mid-August and no signs of flowering yet.

ColorBlaze Golden Dreams

ColorBlaze Golden Dreams Coleus in mid-September 2021 with no flowers forming yet.

One coleus that DID start to produce flowers by the end of July or so was ColorBlaze Rediculous. But it’s no problem at all, and nothing a little pruning can’t fix. Who can resist this gorgeous red foliage of ColorBlaze Rediculous?

After a quick pruning, the plant is looking great!


So, should you deadhead coleus? I say go for it. There are numerous advantages:

  • You’ll direct more of your plant’s energy into growing more leaves, which is why we grow these plants to begin with.
  • Your plant will look tidier and neater.
  • You’ll be encouraging a bushier plant by lightly trimming.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Do you grow Coleus? Comment below. I’d love to hear!

Gwen Jayasinghe

Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Hi from Srilanka. I do grow & love Coleus. I have about 6 varieties. You instruction is useful. Thanks for sharring.


Wednesday 16th of August 2023

You're very welcome!


Sunday 13th of August 2023

Your info on Coleus was helpful. I'll start trimming and watching for flowers then pinch them off. Thank you!


Monday 14th of August 2023

You're very welcome Jill! Glad you found it helpful :-)


Thursday 25th of August 2022

I live in Coloroado and really love Coleus during the growing season. I would love to bring the beautifuly colored foliage indoors to enjoy all winter, is that possible?


Friday 26th of August 2022

Hi Donna! Yes, it is certainly possible! I would just be cautious about bringing pests in. If you do want to take in the entire plant, I would treat it (here is my blog post that you can follow: Or you can take cuttings and start some small plants right now so you can grow those indoors. Give your plants the sunniest window that you have. Hope this helps a bit!


Wednesday 24th of August 2022

If my house its very warm & dry, (from a wood burning fireplace) can I bring them in and let them grow in the house? I must bought small ones this summer.


Thursday 25th of August 2022

You can definitely grow them inside. Just be careful with letting them dry out too much, and try to give them as much sun as you can indoors. Place in front of your sunniest window. And be careful of bringing in any pests. I'll refer you to my blog posts on this topic:


Thursday 18th of August 2022

Doesn't removing flowers deprive pollinators of nectar? What if I leave the flowers? Thank you.


Thursday 18th of August 2022

I have tons of flowers all spring, summer and fall in my garden for pollinators. There is no shortage for me :-). You can leave them, but I find that the plants start to get a bit ragged.