The Victorians did it!

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Many of us have posted our methods and successes in wintering over coleus cuttings:
Hydroponics, bottom heat, sun porch, lites, humidity and temp control, glasses of water, fighting bugs, etc
We have shared our results here and our pics of baby cuttings getting ready to plant out when temps are favorable.

The Victorians didn't just enjoy coleus in their knot gardens, etc, they enjoyed them in their homes by maintaining a plant for at least a year or more. Coleus are perennials! Coleus used to be thought of as houseplants that spent the summer outside.

So, what has happened? Is the only way to have the kind and amount we want for outside to do cuttings or buy them?

Surely places like Rosy Dawn and Bakers Acres and other small custom growers have mother plants they over winter as stock plants. How do they do it? Is the only choice to keep coleus in active growth in a green house controlled environment or take them to Florida for 6 months?

Come on, we have the urge to bring them all in every, why not? And more importantly, how.

So, please share your tips/attempts at keeping our beauties again as houseplants or mother plants.

Thanks, Judy

Thumbnail by coleup
Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

Nothing is easier than wintering coleus if you have the space.I try to take cuttings so there are nice, small versions. Using window boxes, I plant as many varieties as humanly possible. We don't keep our little house too warm, but in my office the machines exude a certain amount of warmth, and they like to shop light, too.

Every window is crowded with happy plants that occasionally die from thirst when I miss watering them. It is bound to happen when there are a lot, but they are very happy when housed with friends that help to maintain humidity. They don't need a greenhouse, just company. Keep a spray bottle with water handy; sometimes that's all they need.

Also, let them sit on some pebbles in the drip pan. If your container has an attached, tight drip pan, pull it off and add some pebbles to let the water separate from the plant. The inexpensive plastic pots I get from Wallyworld all have an attractive (sort of) bottom, and they look like they're permanent, but they do pull off. These tight drip pans impede proper drainage and contribute to rot.

The worst thing about wintering coleus is deciding which ones have to stay outside. When they do come inside, I use fresh potting mix, extra vermiculite and perlite so the soil is not too compact. By the way, putting coleus in an eastern window or under a shop light is not much different from outdoor filtered light. They also don't seem to grow as fast indoors, but it might have something to do with the temperature.

They are fine until the end of February we we start sowing tomato seeds and have to make more room. Then the fun begins.

This message was edited Oct 20, 2011 9:25 AM

Jupiter, FL

We had frost the first week in Dec last year. I brought my cuttings inside and rooted them in my cold house. Did okay , but this year I am going to start them mid November. Watch , we wont even have a frost this winter LOL ! We sometimes go years without one. There was the Christmas freeze in" 89".... but most of the time its in late Jan/ Feb if at all. Ive got my trays with the 4 inch pots. Once they root , I cut back on the water and i put a fan on them ( low). I think the air flow help reduce the mealy bugs. But who knows I may be imaging it.

Mount Laurel, NJ

I think the WORST THING ABOUT WINTERING COLEUS is fighting the mealy bugs!! I never had a problem until last year, but now I can't seem to get rid of them. I am dreading fighting them again this year. Almost (but not completely) enough to make me not want to propagate any cuttings! I spray them, put systemic on them, etc etc but still can't get rid of the bugs completely. Any comments, recommendations welcome! The pretty purple coleus in the picture ( 'grape expectations' I think), was so pretty until I put systemic on it. Then it really shriveled up and almost died. Maybe I used too much, not sure.

Thumbnail by coleuslover123
Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

If you take cuttings and use new soil, you can usually leave your bugs outside. When I use outdoor soil for something special that is subject to inground larvae, I bake it in a slow oven to kill the larvae and then amend the soil accordingly. Kills the worms, but it is my effort to get rid of lily beetles on the fritillaria.

Mount Laurel, NJ

The only reason I'd bring soil in from outside is that I want to dig up a plant and save. Do you think the plant would live if I shook off all the soil and put it in new soil? Seems kind of traumatic to the roots but maybe that's what I should do. I just dug up this little plant, but it's still in garage. I think it's 'delphina'

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Mount Laurel, NJ

I heard on radio a warning of possible frost tonight. Can't believe I just went out and got about 50 more clippings and dug up a few. I already have too many!! Here I go again!

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Jupiter, FL

Yes the mealy are a challenge ! In the summer when we get too wet here in Florida some of the more genetically inferior coleus get slathered with mealy bugs .

Some are defiantly on the decline. Copper , Fishnet stockings and blushing zebra to name a few. I also had a few causalities over the summer. I wonder if these varieties do better up north in the summer because of the dryer environment ? They weren't very happy here.

I will wash the cuttings with soap and water and use new soil. I have decided to start cuttings of the weakest plants this week , and spread the job over the next month.

Mount Laurel, NJ

i've had copper for two years but I will not propagate it again. I took 7 cuttings last year and only one lived. It's a pretty plant but just too hard to get started and doesn't really do all that well for long anyway. This is the first year I've had blushing zebra. It did practically nothing! I think it 's still about cutting size. I will bring it in, but I don't have very high hopes for it. It also was not nearly as pretty as in the pictures I ordered it from. The picture here is from my 'copper' last year.

Thumbnail by coleuslover123
Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

When my cuttings don't live, it is usually my fault. Sometimes a day can be critical wit a tender plant, but I just don't have the time to pot it.

Some do root more readily than others. For me the hardest are the ones with the dense foliage, where every cut is into another set of leaves.

Mount Laurel, NJ

I've never had a coleus I couldn't propagate until 'copper'. I did about every variation I could think of: 1) cutting early in year, 2) cutting in water 3) cutting in seedling soil, etc etc. Of the 7 only one lived. It was in seedling soil and taken in early Aug. It never got very big and didn't do all that well all year. Of course, it was too hot for it where it was. I should have moved it. But there are so many beautiful coleus that do well. I'm going to concentrate on the more hardy ones. I love 'careless love'. It's beautiful, big, and hardy! Also 'red head' is a favorite. 'twist n twirl' is interesting in that it puts out red sports, and yellow/green sports (READILY). It aslo is easy to propagate and grows quite fast, yet compact. The picture is 'twist n twirl'.

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Taylor Creek, FL(Zone 10a)

Howdy friends,
Welove, Have you been down here for long? I come to Jupiter often from Lake Okeechobee to shop.
Basically now is the time to plant tomatoes, so I think it's time to plant coleus down here too.
I started some heirloom tiny tomatoes from a mixed basket of several varieties and can hardly wait to see what I get.
Happy who is south of you in Ft Lauderdale has a Guinness Book of Record for the tallest coleus. She also has used India Frills as a ground cover.
I have several new rooted coleus thanks to folks who have sent me cuttings.
My coleus planters are rather leggy and since I was away and they all spent too much time on the deck instead of on the rail.
I am rooting all the tips and planting the new rooted cuttings in the rail boxes.
I will get and post pictures.
Knock on wood I haven't had mealies down here.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

I'm so jealous to anyone planting tomatoes right now. While we haven't had a frost yet, it is coming soon. We've already removed most of our spent tomato plants.

Our hardiest coleus has been Henna. A great performer, regardless of light conditions. Tops of leaves green in lower light conditions; red in full light. Loves an eastern exposure. Happy little thing. I think it smiles at me every time I touch it. And roots readily.

Jupiter, FL

Sidney, Yes , I came up to Jupiter from Fort Lauderdale in 1990. Im out west in the Farms . Next spring if I have some plants that you want your more than welcome to come over and get some :). I only have one local friend that is interested in them . I feel a little weird when I trim up in June and just throw it out for the yard waste to be picked up. I have never sent cutting thru the mail. I really need to give it a try. I have sent little plant to people , but I really don't have the time to make starts anymore. I get the mealy when the plants are stressed in August. Nothing that a bit of soap and water can't take care of.. ....

Taylor Creek, FL(Zone 10a)

So Far 300 healthy seedlings, or rather rooted cuttings of coleus and a slew of impatiens. I have also found a great cheap nursery with 1 gallon plants for less than $3 each. Have also rooted 4 new Copperleaf. They are ones with leaves ruffled and edged in pink rickrack. I will call them Denny's Copperleafs for reasons I won't go into. LOL
I do have a trough that holds my rooting trays. I mix Bayer's systemic in one about half strength and let each tray root feed the cuttings for a 20 min soak. I root in fresh moisture control MG potting soil.
All this talk has me itching to get out there.
Trying to fashion flower boxes for my pontoon boat. Any suggestions?

Peoria, AZ

Can anyone tell me where to buy the best Coleus seeds?

Taylor Creek, FL(Zone 10a)

Not on eBay.

Lake Stevens, WA

Summer Hill seed, Swalowtail seeds.

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

I have bought from , look under 'Annuals'. They are very large packages.

Some folks let the plants flower, collect the seed and plant it when conditions are good.

In years past>

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

I love my coleus and had taken cuttings for 3 years. DD took cuttings this fall in Z6 and is wintering them upstairs in her bedroom.I took cuttings from her in December ( just cant seem to go a year without winter gardening of some sort ).

The big problem is the gnats.
I thought by letting DD deal with soil I wouldnt have the problem.
I bought Amarillis for blooms at crismiss and the potting soil is probably the problem this year This was Miracle grow moisture controle potting soil.

The gnats dont swarm in a cloud ,but one can drive you nuts at the computer and watching TV they come to the light and my nose.
I have had bowles of regular cider vinegar out and the problem seems to be abateing.

Mount Laurel, NJ

I resorted to using a systemic this year, because I had such a big problem with mealy bugs last year. I used Bayer tree and shrub systemic and so far no problems with mealy bugs on the treated plants. I did find, just yesterday, a mealy bug on an untreated plant. But I've also noticed that the gnats are gone, and I had a lot of them last year. I also use those horrible sticky tapes. I hate it when I run into one, but they do collect the gnats!

This plant in the picture is either 'delphina' or 'pele', I think. It did not have a label. Does anyone have a plant that looks like this?

Thumbnail by coleuslover123
Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

I heard watering from the bottom impeedes the mealy bug

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

I always thought a light alcohol spray would take care of mealy bugs. It's been so long since I've seen them (biting my tongue).

I used to dab a cotton swab to get to the eggs in the axils.

This message was edited Jan 16, 2012 10:27 AM

Taylor Creek, FL(Zone 10a)

It is very close to Pele.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

I agree Sugarweed, looks like a nice young Pele to me. Pele imo has a nice full growth habit without a lot of pinching reqired and becomes a handsome full grown adult sans lankiness.

Vista, CA

Maybe 10 years ago I ran an experiment. I took fall cuttings, put them in glasses of water, and overwintered them in a north facing window, and an east facing window (because that's the two windows with ledges in the kitchen). They thrived--looked great all through the winter, and into the spring. In May or June they still looked good. Since it was an experiment I left them there. By October they were in lousy shape--likely from lack of nutrition. Bottom line: one way to overwinter coleus is in water.

Columbus, OH

I overwinter by taking cuttings, and I root them in perlite/vermiculite and pot them up when they start to show new growth.

I have *&%#! mealy bugs no matter what I do, but it does help to use a systemic, bottom water, and keep them warmer, with enough light, and increased air circulation. I have to work that fine line between increased humidity for newly rooted cuttings and air circulation to prevent disease. This year, I am trying a 20L aquarium with a T5 light that throws off more heat. I don't use a hood at all, the light rests on the edges of the aquarium, so I am getting decent air circulation. I am using imidocloprid to fight the mealy buggers. I hate them with the heat of a thousand white hot suns.

Mount Laurel, NJ

So far this winter (knock on wood) I have not had any mealy bugs. Well ok one, in a plant I had not treated. All the other plants (about 400) I have treated with Bayer Systemic for Tree and Shrub. I put 1/4 tsp in a 2 in pot. That's probably a little too much, but nothing died. I also have nearly zero gnats. Of course it's hard to tell the difference between male mealy's and gnats. The systemic really did it for me. Last year I had a real big problem.

Thumbnail by coleuslover123 Thumbnail by coleuslover123

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