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what to do with coleus

October 13, 2007

hey everyone! i am having a problem trying to figure out what to do with my coleus! it is very large!!! and just beautiful, the bees have made sure that they put a little coleus in every pot in my garden so i don't have a propagation problem i need to know how they fair inside over the winter, and what to do with the stems at the top of the plants do i trim them off as the bees have already did a number on them or just leave them as is will it kill the plant to trim off the tops when there are still flowers on them? are coleus annual or perennial? but most of all can i keep it alive inside over winter? any help would be great! thanks in advance.

Comments (9)

  • hostaholic2 z 4, MN

    I usually take cuttings of the coleus and root them either in water or directly into a small pot of light potting mix. Then I keep them near the sunniest window I can find for the winter. About mid April I again take cuttings and start new plants for my pots and gardens. Coleus are perennials in some areas, but for most of us they are annuals. They are definitely an annual in zone 6. You are usually better off taking cuttings than trying to keep the parent plant over winter. Some coleus fare better than others over winter. Most will tend to get rather leggy over winter and may need a fair amount of pinching back. The leaves are often not as colorful during the winter but will change back to their brilliant hues with warm weather and bright light. They are very frost sensitive and you should take cuttings ASAP. Usually people pinch off the flowers on coleus and just enjoy the foliage. You didn't say if yours were seed coleus or vegetatively propagated plants.

  • diggerdee zone 6 CT

    I did the same as hostaholic2. I took some cuttings and rooted them in potting mix, and eventually over the winter took more cuttings from those. I kept them in a window and kept them over the winter until I brought them out in spring.

    I recently read here somewhere that someone just keeps them in water over the winter. I may try that - lots less space needed, and less upkeep.


    Here is a link that might be useful: recent coleus thread

  • blackswamp_girl

    I have kept them in water over the winter, too... but not on purpose. (I admit, it was pure neglect! lol.) They were fine, both this year and last.

  • Kat SE Wisconsin z5

    I've taken some cuttings already. Mine are in water too. Greengrower, don't be surprised if there's a big color change in the new leaves that come out. While mine are in water I don't keep them by a winter. But I will when I put them in soil. They'll pick up some color then, but not like when they were outside. I've used them as regular house plants too. But they did best in a south window. Pinch off the flowers before you take cuttings. Like it was mentioned before, pinch them so they don't get leggy. Mine are still going strong outside. We haven't gotten a frost yet. They'll turn to mush when a frost hits.
    Good luck on your cuttings!


  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

    For the last two years I've kept a big coleus indoors in the winter - one year it was planted in the ground for the summer so I potted it up and brought it in; the next year I left it outdoors in its pot for the summer and brought the pot indoors for winter.

    It drops a lot of leaves and looks unhappy indoors, but perks up nicely when it goes back outdoors as a large plant. It doesn't get enough sun indoors.

    I haven't decided yet what to do this year - the coleus is planted outdoors with some perilla, which I refuse to bring in.


  • ocsusan

    Believe it or not, I've been planting and digging up the same coleus and begonias for five years! Two years ago, instead of plunking them back into the garden, I placed them in one larger size pot and sank the pot. Then, in the fall I dug up the pot and brought inside. No fuss, no muss. I do that with all my tropicals as well, although I don't up the pot size. They don't seem to crawl, the underground soil temps are even, and I don't bother the roots as much when I bring them in. In fact, I plant all my mums that way (pot in the ground), but don't bring them in during the winter months. Really good for space control.

  • Kat SE Wisconsin z5

    I have several plants of coleus and they just get way too large to bring in my home. I don't have enough sunny windows or the room to do that. I tried a few times putting some pots of mums in the ground in Fall, but they never made it thru the winter. I'm going to try that again though. I have 2 beautiful yellow ones in pots I would like to have come back.


  • rusty_blackhaw

    While most coleus cuttings root readily, some varieties don't propagate as readily. There is also variation in how well different coleus do under house conditions.

    I take cuttings every fall and grow a limited number of stock plants, renewing them with new cuttings once or twice over the winter (the old plants get woody and less vigorous). With the right timing, you can have as many healthy young plants as you want, ready to transition outdoors once settled spring weather arrives.

    The only Coleus I know that's commonly grown for its flowers is C. thyrsoideus, which has small green leaves and clusters of purple flowers in fall-winter.

  • crazykwilter

    My Mom always kept coleus, begonias and geraniums as houseplants year round. (in Vermont)

    The first time I saw them planted outside, I was shocked. It just felt wrong... LOL

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