why is my coleus plant dying

Coleus Suddenly Wilting, Drooping & Dying? (6 Ways to Fix It!)

Coleus plants turn yellow and die when it is watered too much. Coleus also dies of Downy mildew, the infections show on the undersides of the leaves. Coleus plants turn pale if the sunlight is not sufficient/too much. So, you need to care well for the plant if you keep it indoors.

Coleus is a genus of plants that are native to the tropics and subtropics. People keep these plants indoors for their colorful foliage.

The Coleus plant is commonly also called the Mayana plant.

Make your shade gardens colorful with this beautiful plant. The plant is hardy in the USDA Zone 11. Let’s look at the problems these plants face and how to solve them.

Coleus plant’s leaves get curled and turn yellow due to overwatering or underwatering. Root-bound plants’ leaves turn yellow too. The Coleus plant also turns yellow when it doesn’t get adequate nutrients.

Coleus too much water?

Coleus leaves get curled and turn yellow when the plant is overwatered. Yellowing is only the initial symptom of root rot in overwatered plants.

Eventually, the leaves turn brown in color and eventually the roots become rotten. Root rot is known to kill plants.

Coleus thrives in shade, which means the soil doesn’t get sun at all. So, the bulk of water you give the plant doesn’t escape if the soil doesn’t drain well.

Such waterlogged conditions are the greatest enemy of any plant. You should not only water consciously but also make sure the soil/potting mix drains well.

Check the soil with your fingers and water the plant when it is dry. You can fix the soil by mixing compost in it. You can mix the potting mix by mixing sand in it.

Underwatered Coleus

Yellowing not only happens when you overwater the plant, but it also happens when the Coleus plant gets less water than needed.

The difference between overwatered and underwatered plants is simple. Overwatered plants’ leaves are yellow but droopy.

Underwatered plants’ leaves turn yellow but are dry. You need to water your Coleus regularly to keep in good health.


The Coleus plant turns yellow when it doesn’t get the needed nutrients. If you think this is the case, get the soil tested.

Apply fertilizer if needed. You can add slow-release fertilizer to the soil for the best results. Feed the plant according to the label.


Coleus’ leaves turn yellow also when the plant becomes root-bound. The roots of such plants will completely fill the pot and thus come out from the pot vertically.

Your Coleus plant will stop growing. It’s time to replace the pot with a bigger one. Take out the plant carefully and gently massage the roots.

Take a pot that is 2 inches taller than the previous pot. Place the plant in the pot so that it’s of the same height as before.

Why are my Coleus leaves turning brown?

Coleus leaves turn brown when the plant is given more water than it needs. Overwatered plants’ leaves initially turn yellow and droopy.

Such leaves eventually turn brown. Overwatering also leads to root rot. If you see leaf browning then you probably need to look for the cause.

Low Humidity

Foliage browning is also seen when the humidity is too low. You can increase humidity by misting your Coleus plant regularly.

You can simply place the plant in the kitchen. You’ll see that the Coleus plant thrives in the kitchen as the humidity is optimal.

Downy Mildew on Coleus

Downy mildew is a fungal disease that is seen in the undersides of the leaves. The infected plant gets stunted. Leaf color gets distorted and angular lesions are seen. Such infected leaves fall off the plant eventually.

You’ll see that the fungus is producing sporangia on a purplish to gray growth on the undersides of the leaves.

Inspect the infected plant carefully and cut off the infected leaves as soon as you see them. Care well for the plant so it can overcome the problem.

You need to dispose of the entire plant if the infection is severe. Cover the plant with a polythene bag when you do so to avoid spilling spores on other plants.

To prevent this disease try not to wet the Coleus plant’s leaves when watering. Water the plant so only the base of it gets wet.

Why is my Coleus losing color?

Coleus leaves lose color when the plant receives less sunlight than needed. Coleus leaves become pale when the plant is given less fertilizer than needed.

Coleus is kept for its colorful foliage. Red Coleus turns green when the plant doesn’t get adequate sunlight.


Too little sunlight is bad for Coleus. You need to make sure the plant gets just enough light. Place the plant near a south-facing window.

Coleus also loses color if it’s too dark indoors. You can fix such a situation by installing artificial lighting.

Why is my Coleus turning white?

The Coleus plant turns white due to sunscald. Leaves get bleached and turn white with brown edges. Sunscalding happens when Coleus gets too much sun.

Bright and intense sunlight breaks the chlorophyll in the leaf which is why the leaves turn pale. This usually happens in the summer.

You may want to move the plant away from the direct sun if you see these signs. Move the plant to a shadier place/a place with indirect light.

Coleus stem turning black

Coleus stem turns black when the plant is affected by stem rot. The infected stems turn brown first, then black and fall off.

Stem rot is a common disease of coleus caused by a fungus. It produces brown, soggy lesions on the main stem which spreads, girdling and killing the plant.

Excessive moisture is the primary cause of stem rot. Overwatering or poor drainage leads to wet soil and vulnerable plant tissue.

To prevent stem rot, allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings and ensure pots have drainage holes. Improve air circulation around plants with fans to reduce humidity on leaves.

Remove any diseased debris and sanitize tools to avoid spread. Treat early cases by immediately removing affected stems.

Severe stem rot may require discarding the entire plant to prevent spreading spores. With proper cultural care, coleus stem rot can be avoided.

Why is my Coleus limp?

Coleus becomes limp when it gets distressed. Leaves of Coleus become wilted and limp when it is too cold outside. The same symptoms are seen in the case of overwatering.

You need to assess the condition correctly to treat the plant well. Check the soil with your fingers, if the soil is moist then the plant’s probably overwatered.

Water the plant less frequently if this is the case. Make sure the soil is draining well as you don’t want the soil to hold water for too long.

If this is happening in winter then cold is probably the reason. Move the plant to a warmer place.

Coleus wilting after repotting

Wilting after repotting is seen in Coleus due to transplant shock. Roots go into a shock and can’t absorb adequate water.

After repotting your plant you need to water it thoroughly. Your plant probably needs some time to adjust to the new habitat.

You can pinch back your Coleus to decrease the burden of the roots. Here are two images of how you can do so.

pinching back coleus
Coleus wilting after repotting

Coleus leaves falling off

Dropping leaves on a coleus plant generally signals improper watering. Coleus prefers consistently moist soil and can shed leaves if allowed to dry out completely.

Water thoroughly when the top inch of the soil becomes dry. Too much water can also cause dropping leaves due to root rot.

Allow the soil to partially dry between waterings. Ensure the coleus gets bright, indirect sunlight as well since insufficient light causes leaf drop. With proper soil moisture and humidity, your coleus will keep its leaves.

Do Coleus die in winter?

Coleus are frost-tender perennials and usually die back in winter when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).

However, coleus can be overwintered indoors to preserve them until spring. Before frost, take cuttings or dig up a few plants and pot them to bring inside.

Keep indoor coleus in a sunny window and water when the soil surface is dry. Pinch back growing tips to encourage bushy plants.

The following spring, transplant the overwintered coleus back outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. With proper care, coleus can survive the winter months indoors.

Does Coleus like to be misted?

No, you should not mist your Coleus plant. Unlike other houseplants, Coleus doesn’t like to be misted. You’ll see that the misted leaves get damaged.

Water leaves marks on the velvety foliage thus making the plant look ugly.

How to revive a Coleus plant?

Revive a wilting coleus by watering thoroughly until water drains from the bottom of the pot. Coleus prefer consistent moisture.

Move to a shady spot if in direct sun. Trim off any dead or dying leaves and stems which can encourage new growth. Use a balanced fertilizer to nourish plants that are stunted or pale.

Repot rootbound Coleus in a larger pot with fresh soil. Increase humidity for drooping plants by misting daily. With adequate sunlight, water, nutrients, and care, an unhealthy coleus can make a full recovery.


Now, here are some questions that people ask me regularly. They mail me often, so I thought why not answer them on the blog?

Which Coleus is good for full sun?

Here are some varieties of Coleus that can tolerate full sun.

  • Wasabi Coleus
  • ColorBlaze coleus
  • Redhead
  • Coleosaurus
  • Henna
  • Red Carpet
  • Box Office Bronze
  • Blonde Bombshell

Do try to plant them in partial shade though as you don’t want the plant to get hurt in the summers.

Which Coleus is good for shade?

Although Coleus is a shade-loving plant, here’s a list of Coleus varieties that thrive in shade.

  •  Inky Fingers coleus
  • Trusty Rusty coleus
  • The reptilian Coleusaurus coleus

Happy Gardening 🙂