Coleus forum: Time to take cuttings

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Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
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Cinta
Aug 20, 2013 10:28 AM CST
I am going to try again this year to save some of the coleus. I am going with one suggestion of keeping them in water all winter. Trying to keep them alive in soil has not worked for me so I will try the water method.

Is anyone taking cuttings now?
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Aug 20, 2013 1:33 PM CST
Yes yes yes, I agree! If I was where you are, I would be getting started, like one or two of each save-worthy kind to start. Waiting until a few cold, almost-frosty nights have gone by really puts Coleus (or a lot of tropical) plants under a lot of stress, making them have more trouble taking root when we well know this should happen within a few days. They don't necessarily need to come inside, but getting some roots going before any kind of serious cold comes around is a good idea, IME. Also, isn't it usually raining on 'panic night' when you know the first frost is coming? LOL! Also, flying through the plants like Edward Scissorhands means one won't notice little caterpillars, fugly leaves about to fall off as soon as you carry them inside, any other hitch-hikers.

I'm glad you said this though, it's time to collect more receptacles! Small-hole beer, water, soda bottles are easy to come by, but something with a much larger opening is so much easier to use - and tip over a lot less easily! Like peanut butter, jelly, instant coffee or tea, mayo... even stuff like margarine or cottage cheese tubs if they are deep enough. A few cuttings together hold each other upright, and no worry the roots will be too big to exit the hole in the spring. Something more attractive would be, well, more attractive, but who wants to spend the time, money getting it clean next spring from the expected hard water and likely algae deposits? Proceed at your own risk with non-recyclable items I say. There is more incidence of old leaves and flower bits falling in the water with a bigger opening (which can rot, so need to be removed pretty soon.) Some might prefer individual stems in smaller opening bottles because of that.

In the spring I plant everything back out in ground and pots, then use the receptacles to share new cuttings of the excess, recycle any excess. Start again in the fall.
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Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Aug 20, 2013 1:35 PM CST
No, I don't do it until probably late September, sometimes early October, depending on weather. We're usually safe from frost until mid to late October.

I root them in potting mix.

Karen
Name: Julia
Washington State (Zone 7a)
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springcolor
Aug 20, 2013 6:05 PM CST
I root mine in water, then when they have roots move to potting soil. I keep them in a greenhouse over the winter. I feel that a fan to move air is important as well.
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Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
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Cinta
Aug 20, 2013 7:21 PM CST
Oh purple you remember right. It will start to rain get cold and everything will be dead in a flash.

We usually do not get cold anymore until Oct and last year it was Nov. But I never know when we will have the freak Sept surprise. I am trying two ways. One rooted cuttings in a 20 gallon aquarium I am not using anymore and another in water all winter. Just to see what works. Someone said they put cuttings in water all winter and come Spring cut the roots off and stick them in soil.
[Last edited by Cinta - Aug 20, 2013 7:24 PM (+)]
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Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
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Onewish1
Aug 21, 2013 4:28 AM CST

Moderator

yeah I am the same as Karen usually wait till next month
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Aug 21, 2013 7:39 AM CST
For what it's worth, I do expect fall to arrive earlier this year. Overall, our summer has been cooler and wetter than normal, following last year's extreme heat and drought. Gives credence to the "global cooling" reported by some over the last 15 years.

I am also a weather junky, always aware of weather forecasts. If weather is trending cooler than normal fall changes, I take my cuttings.

Some tips:
When taking cuttings, walk around with a bucket of cool, soapy water and toss each cutting in, swish the cutting around. That probably helps hydrate the cutting as well as killing or removing bugs before they get into the house. I also add a little systemic insecticide to each cup of soil before I stick the cutting.

Karen
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Aug 21, 2013 10:52 AM CST
That's what I was describing above, leaving them in water. Guess I wasn't so clear, sorry. I don't do anything with soil for Coleus cuttings inside (or Perilla.) Not against it, there's just no room here. No risk of overwatering. I've done it for over 20 years, so it's not an issue of wondering if it works. Put the bottles in windowsills, any but north seems to work well, make sure they don't dry out, no foliage under water because it will just rot. Change water if something falls in there and grows mold before you notice to get it out, if there's any color or odor. Not advocating one or the other, just relating what I do and why. I think it's very cool Coleus can be saved in so many ways in so many places, and love to hear about them all. If something doesn't work, there's other options to try. Not everybody has old-school windowsills 7" wide, so this (just water) might not work as well.

I really waited until the last minute last fall and the results were not as good as in previous years. The % of pieces that failed to take root was avoidably high (if they match my theory, which is that it was because it had been hovering around 40-45 at night for a couple weeks before cuttings were finally taken on panic night) so I won't be waiting to do it like that again. Correctly pegged the first night of frost, but the plants were already stressed and weakened. Some things can grow back from the roots after a winter of frosts, but not Coleus. One overnight frost is often enough for a complete kill shot. They're utterly tropical plants not built to deal with seasons or temp fluctuations besides day/night at all. I believe that if I had taken cuttings when the temps started to dip so low at night, I would have had much more plant material to use this spring. It's not about the date, just the weather.

We didn't have to close the blinds after a few weeks of bringing the cuttings in last winter, in the room where tv and computer are because there was so much foliage blocking the view in, except up high on the walls. A little more tricky in bedroom windows but after a couple weeks, all of the leaves turn and lean toward the window, so the delicate operation of trying to open/close drapes/blinds behind plants is short-lived.
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Name: Carolyn Madden
Pennsylvania
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Carolyn22
Aug 21, 2013 1:12 PM CST
Good thoughts. I have been thinking about taking cuttings from my coleus this year as well. Any ideas on how to deal with the mealies that invariably seem to appear on the cuttings?
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Aug 21, 2013 2:32 PM CST
kqcrna said:
Some tips:
When taking cuttings, walk around with a bucket of cool, soapy water and toss each cutting in, swish the cutting around. That probably helps hydrate the cutting as well as killing or removing bugs before they get into the house. I also add a little systemic insecticide to each cup of soil before I stick the cutting.

Karen


Name: Carolyn Madden
Pennsylvania
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Carolyn22
Aug 21, 2013 2:51 PM CST
Thank you Karen. Green Grin! Green Grin!
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Aug 21, 2013 3:43 PM CST
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Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
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Cinta
Aug 21, 2013 11:47 PM CST
Carolyn, when I was young my Mom kept them in a glass of water all the time and she never had any bugs. I think the water keeps them away. I am not sure but I think that is how it works.

I have over 100 plants in the house in the winter and I never have a bug problem. I do not know why but I do not bring my houseplants inside until after we have a frost. Since there is not soil I assume there will not be bugs since they are growing in water.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Aug 22, 2013 4:30 AM CST
They can still be hidden on the bottom surface of the leaves, or leaf axils. You've been lucky.

Karen
Name: Carolyn Madden
Pennsylvania
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Carolyn22
Aug 22, 2013 5:43 AM CST
Cinta -

You have been very lucky! I have done exactly that with the water and the coleus cuttings in previous years and had mealy problems. At that point, I was not having mealy problems with my houseplants, so I was worried that they would get mealies from the coleus cuttings. Now I have a totally unrealed mealy problem inside and will be dealing with it shortly.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Aug 22, 2013 9:14 AM CST
Well I feel lucky too! Predators seem to keep these things in check outside, but it's a free-for-all for pests inside. I'm going to have DH inspect cuttings. His eyesight is so much better. Maybe my son would enjoy that. One never knows what an 8-yr-old boy will find interesting.

Karen, something about seeing that you're in Cincy just now made me remember this pic/moment from our vacation this summer, driving through the Queen city. It was a bit of comic relief we really appreciated at that moment. Looking around, most of the people in other cars were completely cracked up too. It only lasted a minute, long enough to take the pic. We got to Columbus in time for a fashionably late dinner at our friends house. (I used to live right down the street.) They were cracking up when we showed them the pic too. Eh, oh, way to go OH!
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Not that it's not 2 hours away, but have you ever been to Bakers Acres? It's worth a pilgrimage, to Coleus mecca. I love living in AL but I miss the massive garden centers, especially that one! Probably for the best that I can't find so many different Coleus here. The windowsills are big, but still...
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Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Aug 22, 2013 10:26 AM CST
Tiffany, that shows the accuracy of electronic traffic devices. Local communities have been ordered to remove speed cameras.

http://www.naturalnews.com/041084_speed_cameras_surveillance...

And no, I've never been to Baker's Acres.

Karen
Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Cinta
Aug 22, 2013 11:29 AM CST
Karen I know I am lucky and knock on wood every time I say I do not get bugs. I read these forums and people talk about all the bugs. I cannot understand why I do not since I bring in so many plants.

As I said I have a ritual of washing, soaking spraying with alcohol and peroxide and not bringing anything in before frost has hit and my house is steam heat not forced air heat so it is not a drying heat and I do not keep my house over 68 all winter. It must not be a breeding ground in my house. It is what has worked for me and I think that is why there are no bugs. Oh and a little car vac is ran over the plants to remove any dust but I might be sucking up any bugs that might think they can land.

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sewNsow
Aug 23, 2013 3:09 PM CST
I always wait until sometime in late Sept or even Oct to bring in coleus cuttings.I do know that if it gets too cool,cuttings don't do as well.I keep a sharp eye on weather trends,here, too.I usually root in vitamin bottles & transfer to soil. Mine end up in 5 -7 inch pots in my greenhouse.If I didn't have a greenhouse I would still do cuttings.Then I might leave in water too.Or set up light garden.I would take several cuts of each to make sure one made it until spring.Here there are so many things that need to be debugged & brought in.I have to be sure & not wait until last minute.All pots get submerged in tepid soapy water.Quite an undertaking with large hibiscus.I swish smaller cuttings in sink of soapy water.
We have had a cooler summer here but the rain shut completely off in early July.We are having a hot spell now that may last until mid Sept.Maybe the 90s next week.I just expect the unexpected when it comes to the weather.The trend is toward extremes.We never get a nice shower anymore. It is either a gully washer or a couple drops.But,we haven't had many severe weather warnings either.
sewNsow

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bluepoppy
Sep 16, 2013 11:35 AM CST
I have been taking cuttings and planting in pots for the last couple weeks..We have had temps as low as 42-45 already this fall and that is to cold for coleus in my humble opinion. I am looking for an early frost if these cold spells continue..To be 45 the next 2 nights.....I have also started in water and have had several even die out in that.,..Have much better luck with a good sized cutting in pots.. Have quite a few already rooted and did some more potting today......And I have the vast majority of them live till spring...

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