Skip to Content

Overwatered Coleus (5 Key Symptoms & What You Can Do)

Overwatered Coleus (5 Key Symptoms & What You Can Do)

Overwatered Coleus plants will start to show signs that they are struggling in a matter of days to a couple of weeks.

These signs include leaf damage in the form of yellowing or browning, as well as wilting leaves. The presence of fungal pathogens is also a key indicator that overwatering has occurred.

An overwatered Coleus can be treated, and most of the time it is quite simple to fix.

5 Symptoms Of An Overwatered Coleus

There are 5 telltale signs that your Coleus plant has been overwatered, and you should monitor your plant closely so you can prevent long-term damage by addressing the issue as soon as possible.

1. Fungal Pathogens

Overwatering Coleus plants can cause the soil to become oversaturated with water.

This excess water provides a breeding ground for fungus, which can lead to root rot, downy mildew and stem rot. These are quite simple to identify:

  • Root Rot – If the roots of your Coleus plant are starting to go mushy and die this is highly likely to be due to root rot. Look out for pooling water in the soil if you suspect root rot.
  • Downy Mildew – Downy mildews affect the leaves of Coleus primarily and are identified by discolored blotches on the leaves of varying colours.
  • Stem Rot – As the name suggests, stem rot directly affects the stem of a Coleus plant. Look out for white spots on the stem, as these are key indicators of stem rot.

2. Yellowing/Browning Leaves

A key sign of overwatered amongst many popular houseplants from the Anthurium to the Pothos is the yellowing or browning of the leaves, and this is no different for a Coleus.

3. Wilting Leaves

Coleus leaves wilt for a variety of reasons, and overwatering is one of them.

If there is too much water in the soil the roots will struggle to process nutrients from it. This results in wilting leaves as they aren’t being supplied with the key nutrients that they need to survive.

4. Mushy Stem

If the stems of your Coleus become mushy this is a telltale sign that it has been overwatered, and is also an indicator that the roots may have already begun to rot.

You can check for this by eye or by gently flexing the stems.

5. No New Growth

If a Coleus plant is overwatered its overall growth rate will slow down significantly.

Coleus is known for growing pretty quickly, so it should be relatively easy to notice if the growth rate starts to dwindle. If there is no new growth at all, it is likely that the roots have started to rot.

How Do You Save An Overwatered Coleus?

If you have only recently overwatered your Coleus then it is very easy to fix.

A red Coleus up close

All you need to do is place it in an area with plenty of direct sunlight for a couple of days. This will evaporate the majority of the water, and you can test the soil every day until it is ready to move back to its original position.

If you’ve started to notice the symptoms in the list above and suspect that your Coleus has been overwatered for an extended period of time you will need to take more action.

Saving An Overwatered Coleus – Step By Step

Below are the key steps for saving an overwatered Coleus.

In severe cases, your only option is to propagate a healthy cutting if you can find one.

1. Remove From Soil

If the soil has been overwatered for a long time you’ll need to remove the plant from the soil. To do this, wear gloves and gently remove loose soil around the base, taking care not to damage the roots.

You can then gently grab the root ball of the plant and remove it from the rest of the soil.

2. Wash The Root Ball

Once the plant has been removed gently run the roots under water to get rid of the remaining soil.

This will allow you to see whether the roots have become rotten, and it will also wash away any nasty bacteria or fungus that has developed as a result of overwatering.

3.. Remove Affected Leaves, Stems And Roots

Use a clean pruning tool to remove any leaves that have discolored, and trim any roots or stems that have gone mushy or showing signs of fungal or bacterial disease.

If the majority of the roots have gone mushy or changed color drastically then it will be very difficult to save the plant. If this is the case you can take a cutting from the plant – if there is one available – that is at least 4 to 6 inches in length and ideally not affected by bacteria or fungus.

This can then be trimmed further to leave the top set of four leaves, and it can then be placed in water to propagate it. You can also opt to treat the cutting with fungicide (more on this in step 4).

This way you can still grow another Coleus plant even if the original has died.

4. Treat With Fungicide

There are lots of types of fungicides, but the important thing here is to use a curative fungicide rather than a preventative one.

Curative fungicides deal with the issue at hand, whereas preventative fungicides are used before any problems occur to stop them from happening in the first place.

It’s also crucial to identify what diseases or fungi you are dealing with so you can choose the right product for the task. Read the label carefully to make sure you have chosen the right product and apply following the guidelines.

5. Repot

Fil a new pot with fresh soil suited for Coleus (moist but well-draining) and place the plant into the middle, leaving an inch or two of space for root growth on either side.

Secure the plant in place by packing the soil on either side and place it in an area with plenty of bright and indirect light.

How Often Should You Actually Water A Coleus Plant?

Preventing overwatering is much easier than dealing with its consequences.

Coleus plants do prefer moist soil, which can make it tricky to know precisely how much water to provide. A good rule of thumb is to check the soil with your hands to see if it is dry to the touch a few inches deep.

If the top few inches are dry then it’s time to water. You may find that Coleus plants kept indoors require watering once or twice per day if the temperature is high and there is a lot of direct sunlight on your plant.

Using Preventative Fungicides

Using a preventative fungicide solution can work well to protect leaves and stems, but if the soil becomes completely overwatered and saturated with water bacteria and fungi are still likely to develop in the root system if you leave it long enough.

Final Thoughts

It’s always easier to avoid overwatering a Coleus in the first place than to deal with the consequences.

If you monitor the plant closely you should be able to recognise any signs of overwatering and quickly address them by placing the plant in an area with more direct sunlight to evaporate the excess moisture.

You can also consider preventative fungicides which can help to fight common diseases which can develop as a result of overwatering, also this is the less idea solution.