What to Plant With Coleus in a Container?

Looking to create a stunning container garden that’s a feast for the eyes? Coleus might just be the star performer you need. With its bold, vibrant foliage, coleus can transform even the simplest container into a dazzling display of colors. But the real magic happens when you pair coleus with the right companion plants. In this article, we’ll explore some fantastic plant partners for coleus and share some tips on how to create a spectacular container garden with this versatile plant. Let’s dive in!


Coleus, scientifically known as Coleus scutellarioides, is a vibrant, leafy plant that hails from tropical areas of Asia and Africa. The real charm of coleus lies in its leaves. Oh, the leaves! They’re a fireworks display of colors – from red, pink, green, yellow, maroon to every imaginable shade in between, often all on one leaf.

There are countless varieties of coleus to choose from, each with unique color patterns and leaf shapes. Some varieties can grow quite tall, while others remain petite and perfect for small pots. Most types of coleus prefer a spot with partial shade, making them an excellent choice for brightening up less sunny areas of your patio or balcony.

One thing to remember is that coleus is a tender perennial, which means it doesn’t tolerate frost well. So, if you live in a colder climate, you’ll need to bring your coleus containers indoors over winter or treat them as annuals.

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But what plants make the best buddies for coleus in a container? Let’s find out next.

Multicolored Coleus plants

The Art of Companion Planting

Companion planting is like setting up a playdate for your plants. It’s all about pairing plants that get along well together. When done right, companion planting can help your plants grow better, look better, and even keep pests away. For container gardens, it’s not just about growing – it’s about showing! The right plant companions can create a stunning visual display that turns heads and sparks conversations.

When choosing plant buddies for your coleus, you’ll want to consider a few things. Look for plants that like the same light and water conditions as coleus. Also, think about color and contrast. Coleus is a showstopper, so pairing it with plants that provide a contrasting backdrop can make its colors pop even more.

Ideal Companion Plants for Coleus

  1. Impatiens: These shade-loving plants have glossy green leaves and vibrant flowers that look great with coleus. Plus, they like the same moist, well-drained soil conditions that coleus does.
  2. Ferns: The delicate, feathery fronds of ferns provide a wonderful contrast to the bold leaves of coleus. Try pairing coleus with small fern varieties for a textural treat.
  3. Ivy: English ivy or other trailing ivies make a fantastic partner for coleus in a container. The ivy can cascade over the sides, adding height and visual interest.
  4. Sweet Potato Vine: With its trailing habit and brightly colored foliage, sweet potato vine is another excellent companion for coleus. The chartreuse leaves of the ‘Marguerite’ variety can provide a stunning contrast.
  5. Begonias: Wax begonias are particularly good companions for coleus, with their waxy leaves and pretty flowers that can complement the vibrant coleus foliage.
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Remember, the beauty of container gardening is that you can experiment and have fun. So, don’t be afraid to mix and match until you find the perfect companions for your coleus. Let’s explore how to plant them next.

How to Plant Coleus and Companions in a Container

Creating a container garden with coleus and its buddies is like painting a picture with plants. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to get you started:

  1. Choose a container: Pick a container that’s large enough to accommodate your coleus and companion plants. Ensure it has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
  2. Add potting mix: Fill your container with a high-quality potting mix. It should be light and well-draining to keep your plants happy.
  3. Plant your coleus: Now it’s time to introduce your star performer. Plant the coleus in the center or towards the back of the pot if it’s a taller variety.
  4. Add the companions: Now, let the companions join the show. Arrange them around the coleus, considering their growth habits. Place taller plants at the back or center, trailing plants near the edges, and shorter plants at the front.
  5. Water well: Once all plants are in place, give them a good drink of water to help them settle in their new home.

Caring for Your Container Garden

Now that your container garden is all set up, let’s talk about keeping it lush and vibrant. Coleus and its companions generally like moist, but not soggy, soil. So, water your container garden when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

During the growing season, feed your plants with a balanced fertilizer every 2-4 weeks to keep them well-nourished. Also, make sure to pinch back the coleus’ flower spikes to encourage more leaf growth and to maintain a bushy shape.

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Remember, your coleus doesn’t like frost, so bring your container indoors or move it to a sheltered spot if cold weather is on the way.


Creating a container garden with coleus and its companions is a fun and rewarding endeavor. The vibrant and dramatic display of colors and textures can transform any balcony, patio, or porch into a charming little oasis. So, don’t hesitate – grab a pot, choose your favorite coleus, pick some pals for it, and start your own spectacular container garden.