Saturday, September 25, 2010

Propagating Coleus

An instructor once told me, “Any plant with a square stem is easy to propagate.” It must be true because I’ve raised coleus cuttings every year using a somewhat haphazard method.

There are many ways to do it – in perlite, in vermiculite, in sand, using plastic bags to retain moisture, etc. If you google “propagate coleus” you will get a pile of articles. Here’s what works for me.

I cut a 4 to 6 inch growing tip from the coleus I want to grow. I pinch off the bottom leaves so there are no leaves in the water.

I put 3 or 4 cuttings in small vase (or dollar store coke glass) and let stand until I see good roots and have time to transfer to pots. I change the water (sometimes).

When the cuttings have rooted I set out 3 or 4 inch pots. I use an old pizza pan as a tray. I usually clean the pots in a mild Clorox/water solution after use. I didn’t this year so I’ll see if it has any effect. I’ve used pots without cleaning before. It didn’t seem to make any difference.

I mix approximately 3 parts potting soil, 1 part perlite, 1 part peat moss.

I gently pour soil around roots and stem until pot is about ¼ to ½ inch from top. Don’t tamp soil around cutting. Pressing on the soil may damage fragile roots.

Water gently and generously to settle potting soil around cutting. Water until it runs out of bottom of pot.

Top off with fish emulsion solution. Let stand in water overnight to be sure roots are completely wet.

I move them to the windowsill over the kitchen sink so I can keep an eye on them and make sure they stay moist. I’ve had some trouble with damping off occasionally. I try not to crowd the cuttings to ensure adequate air circulation.

In about 2 weeks, I move them under lights and pinch growing tips for bushier plants. (I used to fill windowsills before I had grow lights.) Remember to check every day or two. Water lightly when top is dry. Water from below when pots feel light in weight. Feed once or twice a month with fish emulsion and wait for spring.

I think the most important part of this is to pay attention to the plants. If all goes well, I’ll take cuttings from the new plants in early spring and have enough to fill my pots and garden next summer.


Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

A very informative "How-To" post, Marie. I love Coleus, and your's always looks wonderful. Taking cuttings is such an inexpensive way to keep your supply going.

Marie said...

Thanks Jenny,

It would be interesting to calculate what I've saved over the years. I usually have about 50 or 60 plants in spring. Not to mention I would have a hard time finding some of the varieties again.