Ask a Question forum: Help! My Coleus is turning brown

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Copenhagen, Denmark
DitteSE
Dec 12, 2017 8:25 AM CST
I got this beautiful Coleus last week from a friend. I noticed that the stalks are turning brown, starting from root and moving up but I didn't think any of it since I don't know the plant and thought it might be how Coleus stalks look. This past week the bottom leaves have started turning a lighter pink and eventually getting black spots by the edges of the leave, until they fall off. Since I got the plant last week I think it has lost around 10 leaves like that.

My question is, can I save the plant without cutting? Maybe by planting in fresh soil?

OR, should I cut the healthy, green part from each stalk and root them in water to make several new plants?

Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated.
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[Last edited by DitteSE - Dec 12, 2017 8:29 AM (+)]
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Dec 12, 2017 8:33 AM CST
Hi & welcome! Coleus stems do eventually lignify, but it's impossible to say whether your plant is doing that or dying without a pic.

But yes, you can cut off the healthy part and it should take root in water in a few days, if it has enough life in it. Known to be one of the quickest-rooting plants. Don't include any of the abnormal looking part for your cutting & only put stem in water, not leaves. Remove a couple of leaves if you need to, to have a length of naked stem to put in water. Also known to root when put directly in a pot but I always see a lot more wilting & more leaf loss that way.

Those of us trying to keep tropical plants happy in the captivity of a pot at higher latitudes usually find that most of these plants really love as much sun as possible during our shorter days of winter, with such weakened rays of sunshine.
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Copenhagen, Denmark
DitteSE
Dec 12, 2017 8:40 AM CST
Thanks! I uploaded pictures to my post but maybe you can't see them?

How long should the roots be before I plant the cuttings in soil? And can I put all of the cuttings in the same container of water or should I use separate containers for all of the cuttings?
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Dec 12, 2017 9:05 AM CST
Hey, the pics were not there the first time I looked @ this. Computer gremlins I guess.

This looks like a normal, healthy plant to me. There are a lot of stems that could be used as cuttings if you want more of them, or just to not have success with this plant riding on a single individual.

Some cuttings I move out of water as soon as I start to see the roots, especially when propagating outside during sumer. Don't want to start a mosquito farm. And some I leave in jars of water all winter to be put in the ground when it is warm enough again in the spring. If you put multiple cuttings in a single vessel, know that the roots will become tangled together quickly, so if you don't intend to pot or ground them as a group, separate them before that happens.
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
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Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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purpleinopp
Dec 12, 2017 9:06 AM CST
Oh, forgot to say, lignified (woody) cuttings do not take root as easily. Make your cuts in the green parts if cutting @ all.
👀😁😂 - SMILE! -☺😎☻☮👌✌∞☯🐣🐦🐔🐝🍯🐾
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Copenhagen, Denmark
DitteSE
Dec 12, 2017 9:14 AM CST
Thank you very much for your help! I'm happy to hear it looks healthy - I know very little about Coleus plants. I'll make a few cuttings just to be safe. And do you think it's normal that the bottom leaves of each stem turn a lighter shade and then get black spots until they fall off? Maybe it's to be expected from the season (it's winter here). Or it might be too cold in the window sill?
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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purpleinopp
Dec 12, 2017 9:24 AM CST
Always happy to chat about one of my fav plants. Smiling

As the lignification progresses up the plant, it's normal for the older foliage to be discarded. And as you've seen, at this time of year in the N hemisphere, Coleus plants are intent on making some blooms.

The sill does look cold. Coleus + cold = unhappy. They also do not appreciate dry soil. If you have a little table that could be placed next to the window but about an inch away so the cold can have that gap to fall down through, the pot would stay a lot warmer. The next-best thing would be to put the pot on some kind of riser, like another pot turned upside-down, so it's up in the warmer air, and not making direct contact with the cold surface.

Keep up the great work!
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The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
👒🎄👣🏡🍃🍂🌾🌿🍁❦❧ 🍃🍁🍂🌾🌻🌸🌼🌹🌽❀☀🌺
☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Greenhouse Sempervivums Bromeliad
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plantmanager
Dec 12, 2017 9:37 AM CST
Tiffany has given you good advice on your Coleus. The only thing I would add is to snip off all blooming flower stalks. The plant will grow better and more quickly without them. I also pinch the tips of new leaves coming out. That makes the plant branch out more. You could cut it down by half, and root all the cuttings to have more plants to give to friends or relatives. Enjoy it!
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Copenhagen, Denmark
DitteSE
Dec 12, 2017 9:41 AM CST
I only discovered Coleus plants just recently but since then, I've acquired 4 different varieties and I hope my collection will keep growing Smiling

Thanks again! I'll move it to the table next to the window in stead.
Copenhagen, Denmark
DitteSE
Dec 12, 2017 9:47 AM CST
Thank you for your advice, Karen! I've had several requests for cuttings already, so I might just do that. Do you pinch off the tips of the new leaves?
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Greenhouse Sempervivums Bromeliad
Adeniums Brugmansias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tropicals Xeriscape Garden Art
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plantmanager
Dec 12, 2017 10:02 AM CST
Yes, when I see 2 big leaves, with tiny new leaves coming out, I pinch them off. That means it will branch and you'll soon have 4 leaves. Each time you pinch you get double the amount of leaves. You can make a nice full plant if you do it faithfully. They grow very quickly if they are happy. Give it the best light you can. Watch for mealy bugs. Mine always seem to get them.
Coleus are beautiful and you can have them forever by rooting the cuttings.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Dec 12, 2017 11:10 AM CST
Follow Tiffany's advice on rooting the cuttings. Coleus are often discarded in winter and treated as annuals. However, I have had good success by pruning the main plant way back in the fall. That will make the plant look much smaller and a bit scrawny, but if you keep it in a sunny window, you will soon be rewarded with lots of healthy new growth and a plant that looks brand new.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
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Copenhagen, Denmark
DitteSE
Dec 12, 2017 2:45 PM CST
Thanks Karen and Will for your advice, it's greatly appreciated! I'll try pruning and rooting the cuttings. And Karen, I have mealy bugs in some of my plants every once in a while, and I have had great success with putting a garlic clove or two into the soil of the infected plant and after 5-7 days the bugs are all gone.

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