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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Saving Coleus Over Winter

Coleus (Solenostemon) is one of those lucky annuals that can be saved from a merciless death by frost and freeze. Coleus, which is actually a tropical perennial, can be kept indoors as a house plant then replanted outside in the spring once all danger of frost is past.

Just clip off some cuttings with a little bit of stem and a few leaves then drop them in a jar of water. I like using glass jars to watch the roots form. Sticking them in water isn't even necessary as they will root fine in moist soil. Once spring arrives either plant your whole coleus plant back in the garden or take cuttings to make more plants to pot outside. Coleus is one of the easiest plants I know to propagate!

If you don't want to mess with cuttings this time of year and the mess that ensues with potting them up later (of course if you are reading this than most likely that doesn't bother you and you are thinking "mess what mess?") collect the seed. Just let the plants go to seed and run your hand along the brown flower stalk with an envelope underneath. Lots of little tiny seeds should fall right in to the envelope. One word of warning though, don't expect the seed to come true to the coleus from which you harvested the seed. Many of the coleus plants we buy in the stores are hybrids which are a mix of other plants and will most likely revert back to one of the parent plants or become something new. Who knows, it might be worth trying just to see something different! To guarantee the exact same plant as the year before you have to propagate vegetatively and not through seed. Yep that's right, it's best to clone them!


Besides, don't you think these coleus cuttings would brighten up any room?



The only drawback is for those of us who think about the dollars spent vs. effort applied idea. A six-pack of these beauties costs less than $2. I bought 4-6 six packs this past spring and planted them along our rock border in the side garden. So I guess if you don't mind spending a few dollars each year propagating coleus over the winter might not be the way to go, but if you are like me and like to save a few bucks than maybe it is!




Will you be taking any cuttings this fall to over-winter indoors?




13 comments :

  1. Hi Dave, coleus is such an easy plant and adds so much to the garden, love them all! We are trying something new this year and potted up Inky Fingers coleus when purchased this spring with the intention of bringing the whole pot inside to act as a mother plant for cuttings in late winter. We'll see how it goes. I find it difficult to keep the cuttings taken now alive for such a long time in the greenhouse kept at conditions for the orchids. We'll see how an established potted plant works out. That is how my friend at Mouse Creek does hers, mother plants of many types kept in a heated greenhouse with cuttings made in March. You might think about that when your own greenhouse is finished! :-)
    Frances

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  2. I'll be all over this in about a month..great tips from you and Frances. I'm very curious now to collect the seeds. Mine are sun-loving, very tall coleus....wonder if the seeds from them will be sun-loving as well?

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  3. Dear Dave I have done the VERY SAME thing ! Is this one of those moments when great minds think alike ? LOL
    I have mine on top of the kitchen hutch waiting for those little finger roots to pop out .. then plant them with a BIG smile because they will be a constant reminder of this past years garden .. GREAT post!
    Joy : )

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  4. Pretty coleus in the garden! I'll be taking brugmansia, lantana, and pineapple sage cuttings-I need to get to it too!

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  5. I wish I had read this a little over a week ago. Our first freeze wiped mine out. I love the posts about plant prop. as someday I am doing to try my hand at a whole lot more of it! Thanks Dave!

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  6. Great post, Dave! I love coleus, and of course have certain favorites. I've tried to overwinter the container plants in the greenhouse, but so far, haven't had good luck. Maybe I should try a two-pronged approach: Take cuttings and try to overwinter them in water, and put the cut-down plants in the greenhouse and see if they'll bounce back. Thanks for a great idea!

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  7. I've got 1 Coleus cutting on the window sill already & I'm going to take a few from a different plant today, as it will all be over very soon for the Coleuses outside. I failed miserably to propagate a really nice one last year, so wish me luck with these.

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  8. Dave -

    You are talented and patient! Can I send my coleus to you for a winter vacation? :-)

    Cameron

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  9. Great post Dave. I have one rooting as I type. I did notice it had some roots on it so the next few days it will have to be potted up or put in the ground.
    Our freezes are much later so I can wait to get more cuttings for next yr.
    Thanks for the info.

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  10. I've rooted a few coleus over the years...but finding a place that's safe from the cat is tough...I will buy the six pack next spring! Aren't the newest varieties quite interesting looking! gail

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  11. Saving Coleus Over Winter

    thanks for sharing

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  12. I bought some very unusual and somewhat expensive coleus this year. They are beautiful and have grown enormous. I am going to try to over winter them indoors. Hope it works, I would love to have the same kind next spring and better yet if they could be the same ones. I have taken cuttings for developing roots in water. Some of the others I am just going to bring in and put them in the basement close to a window well on the south side where they will get some light. I guess we will see how it works. It worked great for over wintering some Poinsettia. Well see how it works.

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  13. How much of the coleus are you supposed to cut off for the cuttings? I would love to save my nice tall beauties before the first frost hits here. My smaller guys may not make it.

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