This was not a summer I wish to hold on to, however, I can propagate one of my favorite vibrant perennials inside my home during the winter months. Before the frost could get them, I snipped a few cuttings of coleus, which are considered an annual in the north, and brought them inside for propagating. I thought I would share some of my favorite hints for this simple process.
I purchased a variety of coleus in 4-inch pots this spring. A little water and some balanced slow-release fertilizer (I like to use a liquid fish fertilizer) produced a hefty, hardy pot of quick color that bloomed into the fall. Coleus absorb nutrients through their leaves, keeping them vibrant, so I feed my coleus through its leaves and through the soil. You can cut back your plants. Don’t be shy. They need a good haircut to put out fluff. I simply cut off 1- to 2-inch portion’s of the coleus stem above the leaf node, strip the lower leaves, keep the top set, and root the cuttings in water. Coleus cuttings root readily in a jar of water in two to three weeks. Replace the water with fresh water as needed.
Rooted cuttings can survive in water for long periods of time. I place them in all kinds of glass containers and enjoy these little house plants all winter. You can place several cuttings in one container. I also had a couple of ivy cuttings I added to the container for a fuller bouquet.
Think ahead to spring for an inexpensive way to brighten the darkest corners of your shade garden. Coleus thrive in partly to fully shaded areas. Colorful combinations of these plants will make any garden bed or border pop.