Looking for a way to save those gorgeous coleus plants you’ve been growing in pots and containers all summer long?
Coleus is one of those plants that just explode with interest and color. Although their flowers are actually quite dainty and small, their variegated leaf patterns are nothing short of exquisite. With bold shades of green, red, purple, salmon, violet, hot pink, black and more, coleus brings life to wherever it grows with its flashy, neon-like colors.
We use coleus all around the farm in pots and containers. It really does add full season interest from spring until fall. And even better, the deer that seem to love our farm leave it alone!
But if there is one drawback to this amazing plant, it’s that it can’t handle cold weather. Not only is coleus an annual, it is quite the tender one at that. In fact, it is often one of the first annuals to die off with even the slightest of light frosts. Especially when growing in pots and hanging baskets.
But here is the good news, although it grows as an annual in most climates – coleus is actually a perennial. And that means as long as you protect it from frosts and freezing, it can continue to thrive year after year.
And the best news of all? Coleus plants are easy to save over the winter indoors! Whether by taking a cutting from an existing plant and rooting it in water or soil – or by bringing the entire plant indoors to grow as a houseplant.
How To Save Coleus – Keeping Your Coleus Plants Alive Over Winter
Saving Coleus From A Cutting
As you will see later on in the article, if you have a room indoors that receives a bit of natural light via windows, it’s quite easy to save an entire potted plant of coleus with little trouble. But for many, their coleus plants simply grow too large to bring indoors. But don’t despair – you can still save those plants to grow again too!
With overly large plants, it’s usually far easier to save your plant by taking cuttings. Cutting are exactly as they sound. You simply snip off a stem with a few leaves, and then place it into soil or water to allow it to grow new roots. And when it does, it becomes a brand new identical plant!
Not only do cuttings allow you to save plants and space, they also give you the opportunity to multiply your plants. The more cuttings you take from an existing plant, the more plants you will have next year.
Best of all, cuttings can be grown in small pots which take up little room. Not only do they grow into beautiful little houseplants over the winter, but they can then be transplanted next year to fill baskets, containers, and even flowerbeds with big color next spring – all for free!
How To Take A Cutting And Root It – How To Save Coleus Plants
Coleus is one of the easiest plants of all to get to root. Unlike roses and other finicky perennials, you don’t have to apply rooting hormone to help it grow new roots. In fact, the only thing you need for it to root is water – or dirt!
To take a cutting, begin by selecting a healthy stem with healthy leaves. Make sure to select stems that have a few small buds at top of the last set of leaves. These buds are a signal that the stem is mature enough to grow its own root structure.
Once you have the stem selected, cut it back to the base. Next, remove the first few sets of leaves at the bottom, but leave the upper leaves in place. Now all that is left is to set the plant in water or soil.
Rooting In Water Versus Soil – How To Save Coleus Plants
Of the two, placing the stems in water is the easier and faster method for rooting. With plenty of moisture, roots usually begin to appear within three weeks. And, of course, when rooting in pure water, moisture is never a problem.
When using the water technique, always be sure to use untreated water. Municipal water or water that goes through a softener often contains chemicals and salts that prohibit rooting. Set the cuttings down in so the bottom of the stem is a few inches under water.
After the roots have appeared and grown for a few weeks, you can then remove them from the water and transplant directly into soil. Simply fill a small container with good potting soil, and then set the roots down in the soil and cover. Just like that – you have new coleus plants! Product Link : Organic Potting Soil
You can also plant your stems directly into potting soil. This is still highly effective and successful, but it will take a few weeks longer than when starting them in water. To root in soil, cut the stems the same way and place the cut end down an inch or two in the soil.
When rooting in soil, always make sure the soil remains moist for the roots to set. If the soil is too dry, the cutting will wither and die off. Once your coleus plants take, keep them in a warmer room that gets a fair amount of natural sunlight. At this point, keep them watered as needed, much like a regular houseplant.
Bringing Coleus Plants Inside As A House Plant – How To Save Coleus
If you do have room and want to bring an entire coleus plant indoors, the secret to success is to get them inside early. As mentioned prior in the article, once a coleus plant is hit with a light frost, the plant usually dies off quickly.
When bringing pots of coleus indoors, begin by washing down the plant a bit and checking for insects or bugs. The last thing you want to do is bring pest indoors for the winter!
Locate your plants in a well lit room. A room that has a southern facing window is best for natural light. Try to make sure your plants are getting at least four to six hours of natural light each day for best results. If blooms begin to form indoors, cut them off. They simply take too much energy and it is best to conserve that energy while overwintering.
Finally, when saving as a houseplant, you may need to give your plants a bit of fertilizer every few months. A good all purpose, slow release fertilizer applied at about 1/4 of the normal rate is more than sufficient to keep them looking good all winter long.
Here is to saving your coleus plants this year – and to having more plants than ever next spring! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
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