Can I send cuttings through the mail?

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

Hi, I need to send some cuttings out and I don't know anything about how to do it or even if I can. Can ya'll give me some info. Only thing I know how to do is root them in water. Other than that, I'm ignorant. lol I figured I probably couldn't cause of how they wilt so fast and all

Beaumont, TX(Zone 8b)

I recently sent someone instructions on sending me some cuttings, so I am going to cut and paste (slightly edited) what I wrote so I don't have to write it all out again.

Some of what I'm about to tell you may sound condescending. Keep in mind that it's not meant that way. My mind just rambles a bit as I write and I've just found that if I'm thorough in my "ramblings", there's less chance for confusion.

Mail ought to travel fairly quick within the state. Priority Mail (usually 2-3 days) is the best way to ship, but I think Parcel Post would work just as well, if you ship plants DRY. Read on and you'll see why I say that.

Last year I sent out literally thousands of cuttings, regardless of the heat, so let me tell you what's worked for me.

We can safely assume that a couple of leaves will wither off, so I find it best to take cuttings that are 5-6 inches in length, with several sets of leaves. I can always remove the ugly ones before I plant. I used scissors to cut with making a nice clean cut, rather than just pinching them off. I also sent more than one of each variety, just to be safe. :-)

Now, you can do one of two things here. Send them moist, or send them dry. I've received them both ways and either way works. It's up to YOU with what YOU feel comfortable with. I almost always sent them moist.

To send them moist:
You can wrap the ends of the cuttings with very slightly moist paper towels, then wrapping them with plastic wrap, like Saran Wrap. More chance of leaves wilting this way because of humidity inside of package. But that's how Patty had sent hers from South Texas and they were just fine.

Or you can make sure they are TOTALLY dry, laying them on paper towels to absorb ANY moisture on the leaves. Put them into zip loc baggies. and then lay them flat in your box or envelope. Brinda sent me hundreds of cuttings this way last year and they were perfect upon arrival.

BE SURE TO LABEL EACH PLANT or I'll never figure out what you've sent! HAHAHAHA Some folks use a Sharpie on a Zip Loc, while others use sticky mailing type labels around the stems.

I normally used boxes with bubble wrap around them to cushion the leaves, but Jada - Joyce sent to me wrapped in cardboard and they arrived fine too.
I hope this helps.

Here's another tip. Rooting Coleus in soil provides stronger roots than just using water. Rooting hormone is great, but not absolutely necessary. Coleus love fish emulsion and a good diluted dose of them after planting helps them to revive after a trip.


Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

Helps a lot. Thanks. One thing, to root in soil, what do you do. ?
I've never been able to get mine to root. Do you just put them in soil and that's it? I imagine they would be better, just didn't know they would root. I'm just really new at rooting cuttings from anything, !!!! I'm gonna go ahead and send some!!! Wish me luck. I'll send them in a damp paper towel like you do. They'll just have to worry about rooting when they get them. lol

Newport News, VA(Zone 11)

That was wonderful Janet! I'm taking notes too :-)

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

Hey Jada. You too huh? Good, I was afraid I was the only one around who didn't know how.?

Janet, They will be wilted when they get them, right?

Newport News, VA(Zone 11)

Hi Lorraine!
I'm always ready to learn new ways of doing things. Its no fun swapping dead cuttings lol!

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

Ya think? I thought that's what everyone did!!! lol

Newport News, VA(Zone 11)


Beaumont, TX(Zone 8b)

Sorry for the delay in responding. I was just heading to bed when I made that post.

OH, one more thing. I make labels on my computer to put on the outside of the box. I try to put one on each surface so that no matter how the box is sitting there, the message gets across to the postman.

The labels say:

Keep in mind as you read this that I'm on my first cup of coffee.

It makes more sense to me to answer the second question first...

They will be wilted when they get them, right?

That depends on where they are going. Timing is everything.

Try to take your cuttings on Monday or Tuesday. Later than that, and you risk having your cuttings sit at the post office over the weekend on one end or the other.

Get your box ready BEFORE you take the cuttings. Get your butt to the post office as quickly as you can after the cuttings are taken. I like to get there in the early morning so I know it's on it's way to it's destination and doesn't sit there over night.

This time of year, humidity is a big factor. Dry the leaves off with paper towels and get as much air out of that bag as you possibly can. Otherwise, your plants will be traveling in a sauna. It's OK if the leaves get flattened some inside of the bag. They WILL fluff bag up. Just don't crush them.

Make sure your receiving party knows they are on the way. They need to plant just as quickly as they can upon arrival. If they can't plant right away, they can park them in a bowl of water over night, but don't wait too long to get them in the soil.

One thing, to root in soil, what do you do. ? I've never been able to get mine to root. Do you just put them in soil and that's it?

I like to keep things as simple as I can when I'm out in the yard. When I take cuttings, I'll look around at my container plantings to see where I see "dirt". I can't stand to see naked dirt! HAHAHAHA I use a chop stick to poke a hole in the soil, and then gently drop in the cutting and softly push the dirt around the stem. If I don't have the chop stick handy, I just use my finger to poke the hole. Sometimes I dip the end of the cutting into Rooting hormone. It's a powdery stuff that looks like "drugs", so I wouldn't be mailing it to anyone to help out their rooting. Though I've thought about doing just that several times.

Using good soil is important. That doesn't necessarily mean expensive soil.
I've bought the MIracle Grow Super Duper @ $8.95 a bag soil and mine works just as well for my purposes. I go through a lot of soil over the course of the summer.

I buy regular old potting soil and add some Perlite to it. Not a whole lot. Usually a heaping handful to a 40 pound bag of soil. The Perlite helps the soil to retain moisture better than not having it in there. I usually buy a big bag/jug of Miracle Grow Shake and Feed (All Purpose - Time Release) and toss in a handful of that to the mix too. I mix mine up in a big bathtub outside with a cover on it. A wheelbarrow can be used too. If I have them, I sometimes add Alfalfa Pellets to the mix. Those can be found at a Feed Store.

Oh Lorraine, you can check out this thread that shows how the cuttings perk up upon planting.

Here's a slide show also that goes along with that thread.

Time for another cup of coffee.

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

I am so happy you answered. I know Jada is too. You have really explained things so well, You should do a "cuttings for dummie's" book!! lol
Sometimes when you are really good at something and have learned so much, it's hard to pass it along. But you have made it so simple. Instead of "assuming I know something, which I don't!!)

I'm gonna wait till Monday, and get er done. Probably some more questions, but I am gonna give this thread to others who have the same questions.

Now, I think I know something!! Just remember, I've never ever sent a cutting, so if you think of anything, even if you think I should know it, I probably don't!!!

Beaumont, TX(Zone 8b)

I'm glad you appreciated the instructions. I've always found that it's best to tell thing step by step, rather than just assume someone knows things already. My kids hate that, especially the youngest. That is most of the time.... then she'll call me wanting to know how to cook something and take notes of what I think are the simplest things. Ya just can't please them all the time! HAHAHAHA

North West, OH(Zone 5b)

Nicely done Janet!

I would just add a couple of things if I may. When I'm rooting cuttings I like to use more perlite than soil...about 2 parts to one. Maybe it gives extra drainage (?) but for some reason that mixture works better for me.

And you are so right on the wilting. I always tell people that the cuttings will look "bad" when they arrive, and they'll look even worse the day after. By the 3rd day you'll think there's no hope and by the 4th day the process usually starts reversing.

Beaumont, TX(Zone 8b)

Yes Lala! I forgot about that. Don't give up when they are looking their worst. They WILL come back all nice and fluffy. Now and then a leaf will be beyond hope. But it's rare.

I am cheap with the perlite. I don't do as many cuttings as you folks do though, so I'm sure you are right about more perlite being better.

Sidney would probably add a bit of Hydrogen Peroxide. And we've all seen her cuttings become gorgeous plants.

The thing is... Everyone has their own methods for rooting the cuttings when they get them. I just told what works for me. I'm in Southeast Texas though, so have different (read hot and humid) conditions than other folks.

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

I love the daughter story. Don't you just love it. I would always tell my youngest to watch while I made stuff she really liked, but of course she "knew how to do it", untill she is cooking for her family.
"Mom, don't say anything, just tell me how to make the-----

Lala, I like those 4 steps. I'm gonna type them up and put them in with the cuttings.
I'm comin after ya'll if I screw this up!!! lol So, parcel is ok?

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

I'm a little north of you and it's not quite as humid as there, but almost. Feels like a tropical forest sometimes.
It's funny how plants do tho, I've had so many people tell me hostas won't grow here. I've got some of the prettiest hostas, and they grow really big and spread so pretty. Every year I have twice what I did the year before.
I'm glad I already had them or I might have never tried them!!!

Beaumont, TX(Zone 8b)

Lorraine, this far into the heat of the summer, and because you are in Texas, I think I'd go with Priority, just to be safe. Were it earlier in the season, parcel would be fine. Sometimes though Parcel can take several extra days.

Beaumont, TX(Zone 8b)

Don't forget to label the plants (BY NAME, if you can) so your friend will know exactly what she/he is getting.

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

I think that is the hardest stinkin part. !!! But I"m learning.!!! Course some are things that were giv en to me and they didn't know the actual names, but I've found the names for some on the forum!!!

Beaumont, TX(Zone 8b)

There are a lot of them in the plant files. And after a while, they all start looking alike. HAHAHAHA

The thing is, some coleus need more sun than others, and some prefer more shade. Speaking from the recipient's end, it's always nice to KNOW for sure which ones you are getting so you'll know where to put them for their best display.

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

I know, I'm learning. I saw one on the coleus forum the other day and knew it!!!! I was so proud.
I don't know a lot, but I try to at least keep in dappled shade and sometimes after a while I end up moving to more shade. If they are in too much sun, does the color kind of fade.

Beaumont, TX(Zone 8b)

Yes, in most cases. Some of them actually do better in full sun though. Now we all know that FULL SUN just isn't the same in Texas though, as it is in other states. :-)

I was in your shoes about this time last year. By the end of the year I had so many different coleus that I made it a point to know "who" I had out there. Unfortunately, I lost the majority of them over the winter, mild as it was here.

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

Oh no!!! I probably will this year cause I have too many to take u pa nd plant inside. I did take some cuttings off the ones I had and got them going so I would have some in the spring and that worked out pretty good.
Will do that again and keep my fingers crossed. Now that I k now how to root without water, they will be stronger. Nanny3, (I think that's her name" sent me some seed and I winter sowed them. I swear everyone of them came up, or it seemed like it anyway. I guess I must have let them blow around cause I'd be checking a plant and there would be a coleus.

I've decided I want one of all!!! Just a whole yard of coleus. Do you keep y ours together or just spread them all around?

Beaumont, TX(Zone 8b)

So far this year, I'm keeping them all contained. I kept about 85% of them contained last year and the other 15% were so beautiful and huge in my front yard.

I don't bring any plants into the house over the winter. I never remember to water them and have killed many plants by trying them in the house. This year, I may bring in the "Patty Pot" and the DP pot too when it's done.

I've never tried growing them from seed.

Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

LorraineR, I'm glad you brought up the matter of rooting in water. I see that suggested all the time, and it's a WASTE of time. Water roots are so fragile that they break off when a plant is potted up in soil, so the plant has to start all over developing "real" roots (soil roots) when placed in a pot or in the ground. The only time to root something in water is maybe if you want to grow a sweet potato vine in the house as a novelty. You put a sweet potato in a jar or vase with water so that half of it is submerged and the other part is sticking out of the top. It will grow a vine. Women did this 50 and 60 years ago- it was a fad. They used them like devil's ivy.
Coleus are among the easiest plants to root in soil, but there are many others that root well also. You can use ordinary potting soil. No rooting hormone is necessary. There is a tutorial on Dave's so I won't go into detail and be repetitious. I will mention this, however. Placing the cuttings in the shade and watering them at least once a day is one option. This year, for the first time, instead of watering them, I have placed the 4 inch pots in shallow pans with an inch or so of water, and the soil takes up the water and keeps the cuttings evenly moist. They don't even WILT! I am thrilled with the results. After about a week, I take them out of the pan of water and set them on the back porch (STILL IN THE SHADE). I start watering them once a day, and they have done beautifully.
Please keep us informed on how things go for you.

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks!!! I would have never thought about the pan, but how cool is that. I was going to get some going tonight. I will put them in the pan!!!

How long does it take to root? I have some in water, can I take them out now and put them in soil?

How far down into the soil do you put them and do you take off all but top leaves? I know it's probably on the tutorial, but since there are experts right

Lewisburg, KY(Zone 6a)

If anyone has a few extra of INKY FINGERS or some of the lovely red bicolors. I would love to try a few. A newbie in KY

Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

LorraineR, you probably know that you have to have one node, that is, a place where leaves were growing, under the soil level, because that is where the new roots come from. Without a node under the soil level, no roots will develop. You strip the leaves off the node, of course. If you can have two nodes in the soil, so much the better, but one is fine. Strip the leaves off of the part that will be under soil level and leave them on the part of the stem that will be above soil level. (If the coleus has unusually large leaves, you can cut off part of the leaves with scissors. That usually isn't necessary.)
Sure you can take your coleus out of water and put them in soil now. They are just marking time in water anyway.
As for how long it takes for them to root, the warmer the weather, the faster they root. This time of year, there should be a few roots within a week. But you won't know it, because you can't see them. DON'T TUG ON THE CUTTINGS TRYING TO FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE ROOTED. You could tear off the tender new roots. The best way to know is when the cutting begins to put on new growth. If you use a tip cutting, it will root faster than one taken further down the stem.
After they have sat in the shallow container of water for 5 to 7 days I'd take them out and set them in the shade and water them once a day, preferably early morning. This will train them to do without a constant supply of water. After a total of 3-4 weeks they should be far enough along to put in the ground or in a container.
Have fun! It doesn't get much better than this.........

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

Thank ;you. I can't believe ya'll are taking the time to help llike you are. And you are explaining like I need. One, two, three. I'm gonna go out in the dark and get some cuttings and get them in the ground.
I really love the idea of the pan. That's usually my problem, knowing how much water to use.

Oh, I do have some inky fingers. Would you like one or some cuttings? How about both? I fell so needed, I have a coleus someone wants.

Lewisburg, KY(Zone 6a)

I would like both, I have rooting compound, do you use it in the water or how? I am not really into the names yet so if you have a few extra please send them too. I have plants and seeds to trade for them.

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

I'll get you some!!! Look up at the top few posts, there are lots of help with rooting there. Send me your address.

Rochester, NY


This is my second summer of 'retirement'. I feel as if I was in the working world for about 1,001 years!! Am loving the freedom I now experience.

About Coleus. I am new to gardening, but have fallen in love with the many vibrant coleus colors. I bought a few this year and they are doing SO well (much to my surprise). Gardening is new to me so when things thrive I am more than a little excited.

I live in zone 5 (Rochester, NY) and we have horrendous, horrific winters. They are long and dreary and we have snow storms, ice storms, wind storms, not to mention the wind chill factor coming off Lake Ontario.

If I moved my plants into the garage do you think they would survive? I have no room inside and my house does not have a basement. Also, if they are in the garage, how often would I have to water them?


Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

Doesn't it get below 32 degrees in a garage in Rochester during the winter? Coleus can't take a freeze.

Newport News, VA(Zone 11)

Welcome Warburton!
Funny I was just thinking the same thing. When I retired it felt like I had worked two lifetimes. I was in no hurry to start another career and decided NOT!

I'm from NY and the only way we kept Coleus over the winter was in a sunny window with a radiator underneath it :_)

Its not imposible , you just need a heat source or warm spot and minimal sun or lamps. You could do them in a hanging basket in the kitchen or livingroom near a window. Please show us pics of your baby.


Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

If you have to provide artificial light, it's cheaper to replace the plants next spring- and a lot less trouble.

Newport News, VA(Zone 11)

I dont know Dp. I've spent hundreds this spring on new coleus and yet I still have my favorites and all the trailers overwintered that I didnt have to buy again. Each spring brings its own temptations :-)

Plus, the joy of propagating is part of collecting and growing....Those new eco bulbs are cheap energy anyway.

AND, Coleus sales are temperamental at best...whats available this year may not be next year, so dont count on always being able to buy the ones you fall for.

Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

Dear jadajoy, I stand by my comments and respect yours. Everyone's situation is different. Some have greenhouses. Some have basements. Or sunrooms. There are people who just don't have a place to overwinter cuttings. Some live where the average low is 0 degrees or colder; others where it never freezes or, as in my case, where the average low is 25 degrees. Artificial lighting is expensive, and electricity costs are skyrocketing. I love to propogate. I have nearly 3 flats of Lava Rose that I propogated, and I don't really NEED them. I just love that cultivar, and it is great for filling in here and there in a planting. I know you're a good gardener from other posts you have made.

Newport News, VA(Zone 11)

Thats the point DP. Everyone's situation is different. You mentioned "cheaper" and "trouble"...To me it's worth the cost and its no trouble at all, in fact, I love propagating the ones I fall for. Warburton will undoubtedly make up his own mind after our sugestions.

The fact that you propped Lava Rose when you didnt NEED them proves my point. Do you have regrets? LOL . When you're hooked, you're hooked, and keeping them alive during winter months becomes part of the passion for some.

Maybe War knows someone with a greenhouse (or has one) and wont have to worry about it. Maybe he will throw up a plant light over a shelf, irregardless, he asked for suggestions and thats what I tried to offer. Theres no right answer.

Please show us pics of your "needless" Lava Rose. Did you use plant lights :-)

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8a)

Ya'll all sound so much like me. I can't stand to trim a plant back and not do something with what I cut off. It would be a crime to just throw it away!!!lol

You could sell those 3 cases on the marketplace!!!

I went to a round up a few weeks ago, and someone gave me about 30 different cuttings. I was dancing around!!!lol Almost all of them rooted really good!! I've about run out of room for coleus, but can always find a space for one more.

I'm in Texas, and I usually cut my favorites or rare ones back and bring the whole thing in. This year by the time I took them back out, they were all full and ready to go. But I know we have mild winters, so I know that's why. Only have to stay in a few months.

I have an extra bedroom and it only has 2 windows, but I can just sit them on the floor or shelves in there. Like I said tho, even in winter, it's pretty sunny here, so they get light. Be nice if there was a way to save the cuttings and not have to root them. lol

Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

Here's a photo of the unneeded Lava Rose- taken with a zoom lense because the grass is wet.
I have a small coleus bed. (next photo) I "had to" pinch the Oompa back about 6 inches the other day, and after I threw two buckets of cuttings in the dumpster (no, no room for a compost pile) I had to take two sedatives and go to bed. There are people out there, but not in Waco, who would have crawled over broken glass for those. I also pinched the Zap Gnarly, Alabama and Saturn, but not as severely. However, the stems were long enough for rooting.

Thumbnail by dp72
Woodway, TX(Zone 8a)

Here's the bed from which came all those cuttings that no one wanted

Taken at sundown- color not good

(see my previous post)

Thumbnail by dp72

Post a Reply to this Thread

You must log in and subscribe to Dave's Garden to post in this thread.