Learn how to make a beautiful and eye-catching Coleus Topiary. I’m walking you through the step-by-step process on how to make this stunning addition for your home and garden.

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary

Did you know you could turn coleus into a topiary? Well, you can, and the end results are stunning. (If this is new to you, don’t feel bad because I just found out this year too.)

This post is a little different in that I don’t have a completed project to share with you. I didn’t want to wait until the end of summer to write this post because then you couldn’t enjoy the project with me and hopefully try if for yourself. So, I decided to write the post now and will continue to update it as I grow my coleus topiary. I think it will be a fun way to do a project together.

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

To give you an idea of how a completed topiary will look, I have included some images of the final result, so you have an idea of where we are headed. I’ve sourced all of the photos to their original creator and hope to eventually replace them with the results of my own coleus topiary journey.

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

Image Source: NY Topiary

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

Images Source: Better Home & Gardens

As you can see, the results of this project are truly stunning. Coleus come in a variety of colors, leaf shapes, textures, etc. While I had originally intended to only grow 2-3 of these Coleus Topiaries, I ended up with 12. I just couldn’t resist all of the beautiful coleus varieties. Plus, I wanted to ensure I had several successful topiaries (so if one or two don’t make it, I’ll be certain to have a few that do).

With all that being said, let’s get into the process. I hope you’ll purchase some coleus plants and come along on this creative adventure with me!

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

Growing a Coleus Topiary:

1. Buy A Coleus Plant
You’ll need a coleus plant to start. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you’re welcome to start your coleus plant from seed. If not, most garden centers and nurseries sell coleus. It is available in a variety of colors, sizes, leaf styles, etc. This process of creating a topiary should work with any of the coleus varieties, so choose the one you like best.

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

If you want a particular height for your final topiary be sure to check the tag to see the max growth height for the variety you are selecting.

Also, I like to select a plant with an obvious center stem/trunk like the plant pictured above. I found these pretty easy to find, though one of my coleus had several main stems/trunks. This style will work too, but first you will need to eliminate all of the stems but one.

2. Pot Your Coleus
Next, plant your coleus in your chosen pot. I don’t like to go too big to start, but want to make sure the plant’s roots have enough room. Keep in mind that you will likely need to replant your topiary as it grows.

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

Choose a heavy pot as eventually your plant will be top heavy and the right pot will help to prevent your topiary from falling over.

3. Pinch Leaves
Once potted, choose one stem to serve as your trunk. Then, remove all of the other stems with pruning shears. Coleus stems can be very fragile, so take your time and be patient.

If there are single leaves on your main truck you can leave those on the trunk as they will help fuel the plant’s growth. You can remove them later or they may eventually just fall off on their own.

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

4. Stake Your Coleus
To help support your topiary during it’s growth, insert a stake with a length close to the desired height (around 2-3 feet) in the pot near the trunk. (I’m using these bamboo stakes.) Attach the trunk to the stake with garden ties.

As the plant grows, continue to attach the trunk to your stake. Over time, the main stem will harden and become more of a woody trunk. Even at this stage, the trunk isn’t super sturdy, so the stake will be essential for the life of the plant.

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

5. Pruning Your Topiary
In addition to continuing to attach the trunk of the coleus to the stake as it grows, you’ll also want to continue pruning off any additional stems that will emerge. You’ll just want a cluster of leaves at the top which will eventually result in a foliage-free trunk.

Once your topiary reaches close to the desired height for your project, pinch off the top. This will stimulate more branching from from the cluster of leaves at the top which will eventually form your topiary.

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

Then, as your topiary ball starts to grow and form, continue to pinch the stem tips at the top of the plant. This will help to create a dense ball of foliage.

You’ll also want to pinch off any flower spikes. You want the plant to put the energy into the foliage; the flowers will will drain the plant of resources.

6. Be Patient and Have Fun
Like any topiary, this process doesn’t happen over night. I’m assuming this will take an entire summer and then some. If you want beautiful results, know that this process will take time.

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary #coleus #topiary #planting #garden #gardening #topiaries #coleusplant

Other Helpful Coleus Topiary Growing Tips:

Summer Sunlight:
Your coleus with thrive in moderate light to shade during the summer months.

Winter Sunlight:
Coleus prefers brighter light in the winter with several hours of direct sunlight.

Water regularly as coleus tend to be thirsty plants. Do not overwater or allow the coleus to sit in soaking water as this can cause the stem to rot.

Use a 10-10-10 water-soluble fertilizer at 1/4 strength every week from March to October.

Outdoor Care:
Avoid strong winds and heavy rain as these can damage your coleus.

As your topiary grows, it’s likely that you’ll need to repot it at least once or twice a year.

I know that coleus grow fairly quickly, but I’m not sure exactly how much progress we’ll make in one summer. The good news: you can bring a coleus inside during the winter months and it will continue to grow and thrive. (Or so I’ve been told.)

And that’s it!

Looking for more unique garden projects? Try these:

How to Grow a Coleus Topiary

While your coleus topiary will take some patience and care, the end results will be worth it.

As you can see from my photos in this post, I’m still in the early stages of this process. When I have significant updates to share, I will republish this post to the main page of my website. You can also follow me on Instagram @inspiredbycharm and/or subscribe to the IBC Mailing List to stay up-to-date on my topiaries’ growth.

I hope you’ll join me in growing a beautiful coleus topiary (or in my case, 12 beautiful coleus topiaries). Ha!

Coleus Topiary UPDATE:

Here’s is a look at how my topiaries were doing about 3/4th of the way through the season. I had intentions of taking more pictures but they were hit by frost and destroyed. I really loved this process and plan to do it again this year.

coleus topiary

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links as part of the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that inspiredbycharm.com receives a small commission by linking to Amazon.com and other sites at no cost to the readers.

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  • Marcia Treece at

    When I saw this post in late spring, I started 4 of my own! They are doing very well. I hope you’ll be posting pictures of how yours are doing!!

  • Helen at

    I’m so inspired. I can’t wait to start this project. Thank you for sharing.

  • Kathryn at

    Great idea, thanks Michael❣

  • Cathy at

    Can you share where you got the terra-cotta pot?

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      You can find them at Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

      xo Michael

  • Marcia Treece at

    Thank you for all this information! I’ve gone shopping and prepared 4 for my husband to create for Father’s Day (I’ve held on to your blog since May!). Can’t wait to see how they turn out.

  • Nanette at

    Hi Michael,
    I also began this project with you purchasing 5 coleus’. They have grown 6″ it seems! How are yours doing? Are you having to remove any of the original large leaves at the top’s bottom as more leaves grow at the top? I hope that makes sense. Thanks!

  • Lainey at

    I was at the garden center yesterday and saw coleus plants, which I don’t see all that often here in Southern CA, since it tends to be too hot and dry for them. I remembered your post and snapped one up! I potted and staked it today and can’t wait to try to transform it into a topiary. I hope you will post an update on the progress of your plants soon! Thanks for the fun project idea! I think this will look fantastic on my patio. Quick question: the coleus plants were labeled annuals. Do you know if these will survive through the winter?

  • elnadaah at

    awesome thank you for sharing the great idea.

  • Julie Lobb at

    Thank you so much for posting this idea, I’m going to share this with my mom so we can have a project to do together this summer!

  • Patty D at

    What a clever idea! I love coleus and have gone a little overboard in that department this year. I laughed when I saw your selection because that’s where I am this year. I choose Ruby Slippers for this with a gorgeous limey green pot. It has the most beautiful velvety deep red solid leaves, just stunning and a nice thick stem. Hopefully, it will be amazing for the holidays too. That’s my plan! Thank you for sharing this very cool idea.

  • Helen at

    Love this post idea. Thank you for sharing and I plan to try it.

  • Melissa at

    What a cool project! This is right up my alley. Thank you for sharing.

  • susan ross hill at


  • Paula at

    Well I am hooked now that I have seen the end result. I never thought of doing this. I have loved coleus for years because it is a hardy annual that needs little attention & there are so many varieties. I do understand that this process with need some tender loving care but I am willing to try. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  • rockstonepebbles at

    I’ve always been a fan of coleus. I can’t wait to give this a shot. Thank you so much

  • Julie at

    I’ve been taking rooted cuttings at end of summer to do this. Your approach of starting out with young plants is probably a better way to go. I’m obsessed with topiary making. Will try with coleus again, thanks to you

  • MARISA Waid at

    I can’t wait to try this too!

  • Jane at

    Take those cuttings and put in a cup of water to grow another plant… watch those roots form!
    I love this topiary idea! Going to start one today.

  • jenw at

    I LOVE coleus and grow a lot of them in the summer on my shaded front porch. But I’ve never seen a coleus topiary before! I’m heading to the garden center tomorrow to grab a couple and give them a try!

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Yay!! Wishing you the BEST results! I’m so excited to see mine come to life.

      xo Michael

  • Mary at

    I’ve alway’s loved coleus. Can’t wait to try this. Thank you

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      You’re so welcome! Have fun!

      xo Michael

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