How to Care for Wasabi Coleus – 9 Eye Opening Points

Wasabi Coleus is a plant that shares its name with a fiery Japanese spice but holds no actual relation. The Wasabi Coleus may not pack the punch of its namesake, but it does have style!

While it resembles a neon stinging nettle, it doesn’t come with the same stingy surprise. So you won’t need to arm yourself with gardening gloves and a battle cry just to tend to this charming green companion. It’s all the visual allure without any of the ouch!

As a relatively low-maintenance plant, it thrives in well-draining soil and prefers bright, indirect light, although it can also tolerate some partial shade. Its forgiving nature means it can withstand periods of drought, making it a resilient and adaptable plant friend.

In my quest for a bold and eye-catching display, I paired the neon Wasabi Coleus with my majestic black elephant ears. The result? A stunning spectacle of contrasting colors that ignites the space with visual drama.

I’m excited to share how to care for this fluorescent-looking low-maintenance plant so you can also benefit from its leafy magic!

wasabi coleus

Table of Contents

What Are the Lighting Requirements?

The Wasabi Coleus craves bright, indirect light for 6-8 hours daily. It wants that gentle, filtered sunshine to thrive and show off its vibrant green foliage.

yellow and purple leaves on wasabi coleus

If your Wasabi Coleus doesn’t receive enough light, it might get a case of the grumps. In other words it can become a bit leggy, stretching out in search of that elusive sunshine. Its stems might grow long and lanky, making the plant appear less full-bodied than you’d like.

The full sun can turn your Wasabi Coleus into a sunburned superstar. If exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods, your Wasabi Coleus might develop unsightly sunburned patches on its leaves. Let’s face it; no one wants their plant to rock a painful sunburned look.

Position it near an east or west-facing window, where it can soak up that bright, indirect light all day long.

My living room receives too much bright sun, so I use a net curtain to diffuse the light- it keeps my indoor jungle happy. My wasabi coleus has grown with full even growth.

When Do I Water the Wasabi Coleus?

Like many plants, the Wasabi Coleus appreciates a moist environment. Aim for consistent soil moisture. You should conserve soil moisture and not let it dry out completely between waterings.

Before you water your Wasabi Coleus, stick your finger into the soil. If it feels dry at that depth, it’s time to water your plant. Hold off on watering for a little longer if it feels slightly moist.

red wasabi coleus leaves

It’s better to thoroughly water your Wasabi Coleus. Allow excess water to drain away, rather than giving it a quick splash and leaving it in a puddle.

Sometimes life gets hectic, and I forget to water my Wasabi Coleus for a few days (oops!). It is forgiving, so don’t panic. However it’s best not to go too long without a drink. Set a reminder on your phone for frequent waterings if you need to be more mindful like me!

What Soil pH Is Required?

The Wasabi Coleus does well in well-draining, rich soils with a slightly acidic to neutral pH level. Aim for a pH range between 5.5 and 7.0 to keep your plant feeling at home. You can test the pH of your garden soil with a pH test strip from your local gardening center or online.

If you need to adjust the soil, add lime or egg shells to raise the pH (make it more alkaline). Alternatively, lower the pH (make it more acidic) using peat moss, pine needles, or sulfur to naturally lower it over time.

red coleus plants in black pots

Crafting your soil blend allows you to tailor it to your plant’s needs. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:

  1. First begin with high-quality potting soil: Look for a well-draining potting mix that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged.
  2. Then add some peat moss or coconut coir: These organic materials help retain moisture in the soil mix while improving drainage. They act like sponges, ensuring your Wasabi Coleus gets the right amount of hydration without drowning.
  3. Incorporate perlite or vermiculite: These lightweight additives aid in drainage and aeration. They create air pockets in the soil, allowing roots to breathe and preventing compaction.
  4. Next mix in a touch of compost: Compost enriches the soil mix with valuable nutrients and promotes healthy microbial activity.
  5. Optional: Consider adding a slow-release fertilizer specific to foliage plants. This helps provide a steady supply of nutrients to support your plant’s growth and overall health.

Mix them thoroughly once you have all your ingredients, ensuring an even distribution.

Does It Need High Temperatures?

One of the best aspects of this plant is that it loves warm temperatures that mimic a cozy and pleasant environment for humans. It flourishes in temperatures between 60°F (15°C) and 75°F (24°C).

red and yellow wasabi coleus

While this relatively low-maintenance plant can tolerate slightly cooler or warmer conditions, it’s best to avoid extremes. 

Temperatures below 55°F (13°C) can cause your plant to feel a bit chilly, potentially leading to stunted growth or even damage to its delicate foliage. On the other hand, exposing it to temperatures consistently above 85°F (29°C) can stress your Wasabi Coleus and affect its overall health.

Rapid temperature changes can stress out your Wasabi Coleus. So keeping it away from areas with fluctuating temperatures, such as drafty windows, doorways, or spots near heating vents or air conditioning units, is best. These areas can expose the plant to sudden shifts from warm to cool or vice versa, negatively impacting its health.

While the Wasabi Coleus enjoys a comfortable temperature, direct exposure to intense heat sources should be avoided too. Placing it near radiators, heating equipment, or other direct heat sources can subject the plant to excessively high temperatures, causing damage or even wilting its foliage.

What’s the Best Humidity?

Aim for a humidity range between 40% and 60%, where the air is comfortably moist and reminiscent of the wasabi coleus’ native habitat.

Placing your Wasabi Coleus alongside other indoor plants can create a mini-plant community that naturally increases humidity. As plants release moisture through their leaves via transpiration, they create a slightly more humid microclimate around them.

pink and yellow wasabi coleus

Using a humidifier to add moisture to the air can be especially helpful during dry seasons or in environments with low natural humidity. I run a humidifier next to my plant display, giving them the perfect amount of moisture. It’s also great for keeping my skin intact during the dry seasons!

Another way to increase humidity is with a tray of water. Placing a tray filled with water near your Wasabi Coleus allows for evaporation, gradually increasing humidity. Just ensure that the water level is below the surface of any plant saucers or pots to avoid waterlogging the roots.

How Often Do I Fertilize the Wasabi Coleus?

When fertilizing your beloved Wasabi Coleus, a balanced approach is key. Use a well-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer with an equal NPK ratio (10-10-10 or 20-20-20).

Dilute the fertilizer according to the package instructions and apply it every two to four weeks during the growing season. Remember to water the plant before and after fertilizing to avoid burning the roots.

ariel view coleus in white pot

A gentle feeding regimen every 4-6 weeks during the growing season will give your Wasabi Coleus the necessary nutrients to maintain healthy growth and vibrant chartreuse leaves.

How Do I Propagate It?

Propagation, the magical process of creating new plant babies. It’s a wonderful way to expand your collection of Wasabi Coleus or share its beauty with friends.

close up of wasabi coleus leaves

Here’s a quick guide on how to propagate your cherished plant:

  • Stem Cuttings: Select a healthy stem from your plant, about 4-6 inches long, and make a clean cut just below a leaf node. Remove the lower leaves, leaving a few at the top. Place the cutting in a glass of water or a well-draining potting mix. Keep it in a warm and bright spot, ensuring the soil remains lightly moist, or the water is replenished. Within a few weeks, roots will develop, indicating successful propagation.
  • Division: Your Wasabi Coleus may develop multiple stems or clusters as it grows. Remove the plant from its pot and gently separate the root ball into sections, ensuring each division has healthy roots and foliage. Replant them in pots with fresh potting soil and provide proper care. Dividing allows you to create multiple new plants from a single parent, expanding your green family.

Remember to provide the propagated cuttings or divisions with similar care as the parent plant, including appropriate light, temperature, and watering.

Is Wasabi Coleus Toxic?

coleus in brown pot on wooden top

As with any plant, good hygiene is recommended when handling the Wasabi Coleus. Wash your hands after touching the plant, especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies. Wasabi Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) is non-toxic to humans and pets.

What Pests and Common Problems Can It Encounter?

While the Wasabi Coleus is generally a resilient and low-maintenance plant, it can still encounter a few common pests and problems. Here are a few to watch out for:

  • Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects can cluster on the leaves, sucking out sap and causing curling or yellowing foliage. Use a gentle insecticidal soap or neem oil spray to control aphid infestations.
  • Mealybugs: These tiny, cotton-like pests can be found in leaf joints or hidden on the undersides of leaves. They feed on plant sap and can cause stunted growth or yellowing. Remove them manually or use insecticidal soap to eliminate them.
  • Fungal Diseases: Excessive moisture or poor air circulation can lead to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew or root rot. Ensure proper watering practices and provide adequate ventilation to prevent these issues. If necessary, treat with appropriate fungicides.
  • Overwatering: Too much water can lead to root rot, wilting, or yellowing leaves. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings and ensure good drainage to prevent soggy conditions.
  • Nutrient Deficiencies: Inadequate nutrition can result in yellowing or discolored leaves. Ensure your Wasabi Coleus regularly receives balanced fertilizer to provide the nutrients for optimal growth.

About Wasabi Coleus

coleus in hanging basket outside

Scientifically known as Solenostemon scutellarioides, this captivating plant traces its roots to Southeast Asia, where it developed its unique chartreuse netting pattern that’s sure to make a statement. With its vibrant and electrifying color, the Wasabi Coleus adds a touch of zesty charm to any indoor garden. It belongs to the vast mint family, boasting diverse colors, patterns, and leaf shapes.

Standing at a compact size of 1 to 3 feet (30 to 90 cm), it has an upright spreading habit. It’s the perfect companion for tabletops, shelves, or windowsills. The Wasabi Coleus has gained popularity for its striking foliage and ability to add color and intrigue to gardens, landscape applications, outdoor containers, and indoor spaces.

It’s important to note that while it shares its name with the popular Japanese spice, it doesn’t possess the same fiery flavor. The name is simply derived from the resemblance of its vivid green foliage to wasabi, adding a playful twist to its botanical identity.

green and purple wasabi coleus


Can you eat coleus wasabi?

No, Wasabi Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides) is a culinary herb. While it shares a name with the Japanese spice “wasabi,” the Coleus variety does not possess the same flavor and is not used in cooking.

Is wasabi coleus a perennial or annual?

Wasabi Coleus is grown as an annual in most regions. It is sensitive to frost and does not tolerate cold temperatures well. However, in tropical and subtropical climates, it can be grown as a perennial, thriving year-round.

What does wasabi coleus look like?

The neon green leaves of Solenostemon scutellarioides are large with serrated edges like a nettle. The flowers are small and insignificant. They tend to be blue, purple, or white in color and appear on tall spikes above the foliage. 

What is the scientific name for wasabi coleus?

The scientific name for Wasabi Coleus is Plectranthus scutellarioides. It belongs to Lamiaceae (mint family) and is commonly called Coleus or Painted Nettle.

Is coleus safe for humans?

Yes, Coleus plants, including Wasabi Coleus, are generally considered safe for humans. They are non-toxic and not known to cause significant harm if accidentally ingested. However, individual sensitivities can vary, so monitoring any reactions and avoiding consuming the plant is advisable.

Can you drink coleus?

Consuming Coleus or using it as a beverage with proper guidance from a healthcare professional is recommended. The plant contains various compounds, and drinking excessively or without adequate knowledge can have adverse effects.

Unleash the Neon Green Magic: The Captivating Beauty of the Wasabi Coleus

The Wasabi Coleus should be embraced with open arms! This neon green herbaceous annual knows how to shine brightly.

Caring for the Wasabi Coleus is about finding the right balance of light, water, and love. Give it some bright, indirect light, and keep the soil moist but not soggy because nobody likes wet socks, not even our Wasabi Coleus. Remember to sprinkle it with a touch of fertilizer now and then to keep those leaves happy and nourished.

The Wasabi Coleus is versatile enough to rock hanging baskets, bring life to shelves, or even steal the spotlight in a mixed plant arrangement.

Here’s a little tip to make it look even better: give it a haircut! Just a pinch here and there, removing any leggy growth or spent flowers. It will keep it in tip-top shape and maintain its compact and bushy form.

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Photo of author
Alex Tinsman
An avid plant and flower lover! Ever since he was little, plants, flowers, and shrubbery of all kinds filled his life. Alex credits this fascination with nature's beauty to his mother and grandmother who were - and still are - dedicated gardeners. It's now Alex's mission to pass that same love for plants onto others and show them it's as easy as pie to bring nature inside.

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