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Zone 5
ShouldItryagain
Oct 25, 2018 9:03 AM CST
I garden on a 9th-floor balcony in a high-rise in zone 5. Last year I had beautiful coleus in the railing planters. I brought them in around this time, thinking I'd be able to replant them outdoors in the spring. They promptly died indoors. The same thing just happened with the sweet potato vines I brought in this month. I'm at a loss to understand why they all died. I have read on gardening sites that people bring coleus and sweet potato vines in for the winter.ย The conditions on my balcony -- rain, wind, temperature shifts -- are certainly harsher than indoors.

Can you suggest what might have happened, should I want to try again next year? Or should I just start over with new plants in the spring?

Thanks for your advice.
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Oct 25, 2018 10:26 AM CST
You are much too cold to overwinter these out doors!
As for Coleus you can bring them in now and start a bunch of cuttings from stems in water. Maybe cuttings from the tips of the major branches 4-6" long.
By the time they root adequately you are maybe looking at early to mid December. Then pot them up in perhaps 4" pots. They will need a little sun, then a bright windowsill.
You can't let them dry out!
I have never saved sweet potato vine, just bought new.
Let me say that this would perhaps be easier then trying to keep well established plants thriving indoors for the winter when the change in environment is just too drastic!!
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Oct 25, 2018 10:49 AM CST
Both those plants should do fine indoors in winter in a sunny window. The sweet potato vine might go dormant but the tubers are still fine.

Are you keeping them someplace indoors where heater vents blow on them? If your outdoors in summer has a good amount of humidity, moving to dry winter interiors would also cause a problem. Did you replant to bring them in?
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Zone 5
ShouldItryagain
Oct 25, 2018 10:51 AM CST
Thanks to you both for writing. Yes, I did replant them when I brought them in.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Oct 25, 2018 12:58 PM CST
The primary problem is the reduction in light when they are brought indoors. Even a sunny location indoors does not provide nearly as much light as when it is outside. Plants adapt to the light they receive at the time each leaf emerges. To successfully adapt your plants to indoor light, they should be pruned back substantially. That way, new growth will be adapted to the reduced indoor light, assuming you can keep them in a very sunny location.

Replanting was a mistake. The change in light is stressful enough without having the roots disturbed. Depending on how you did the replanting, the damage may be irreparable.

Both plants can be kept reasonably well indoors, but not so easily. Most folks just start over each year.

Here is a photo of a Coleus that has been adapted to indoors on a sunny windowsill.

Thumb of 2018-10-25/WillC/c95d35

Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Oct 27, 2018 5:46 AM CST
I tried moving large potted coleus in for winter. Promptly died, for the reasons Will gave.
I have kept cuttings over winter. They'll grow fast in spring. Coleus roots easily in small pots, sweet potato should also. It saves a lot of space too.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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pirl
Oct 27, 2018 6:25 AM CST
Cuttings are far easier, less mess, and you're more likely to succeed. Today is my coleus cutting day!
Zone 5
ShouldItryagain
Oct 27, 2018 6:37 AM CST
Thank you all for your replies. Next time I will take coleus and sweet potato vine cuttings. As for this winter, I won't have plants cluttering up my space.

I have a blog and intend to write a post about this. I will reply here with the link when it's published.

Appreciatively,
Should I try again?
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
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pirl
Oct 27, 2018 6:53 AM CST
Always give it another try. Giving up isn't an option for those who love their plants.
Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Christine
Oct 27, 2018 7:20 AM CST
Shouldtryagain, I've had luck growing Coleus from seeds over the winter, you'll need a sunny window away from any drafts or heating vents or a good grow light. I have never had any luck growing the sweet potato vine indoors, I agree with Bill buy new ones. Starting your Coleus from seeds is a good winter project and very rewarding and ready for outdoors after all threats of frost are over Green Grin!

Will, your Coleus is gorgeous Lovey dubby my favorite color choice
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
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kniphofia
Oct 27, 2018 7:33 AM CST
I personally don't think it's worth the bother to try and overwinter these types of plants indoors. They're sold as temporary bedding plants. I wait until Spring and buy new varieties which are already established plants.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
pirl
Oct 27, 2018 7:43 AM CST
I'd agree if they were all available at local nurseries every year but they aren't and so we take cuttings and hold them over. During the dark days of winter they brighten the room and give us hope that spring will come again.
Thumb of 2018-10-27/pirl/b33108 Thumb of 2018-10-27/pirl/6be7e9 Thumb of 2018-10-27/pirl/c6055b

Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Oct 27, 2018 3:49 PM CST
I'm with pirl, and to paraphrase Tina Turner, what's 'practical' got to do, got to do with it. nodding A light shelf full of pretty plants can really help those dark winter days, and guarantee your favorite plants without any hunting. I'm all for growing over shopping any day.
But not everyone wants to mess with indoor plants
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
pirl
Oct 27, 2018 4:30 PM CST
Right, Sally. Knowing I'll have the plants I rely on keeps me happy and my shopping list a bit shorter. Some folks either don't have the lights (or sunny exposures) but as they grow, especially in mid February as the snow flies, I can see how much they're growing and it gives me hope that spring really will arrive.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL ๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒทโš˜๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Nov 3, 2018 7:53 AM CST
Being near stores where one is confident they'll find the plants they want makes a huge difference and, of course, having the budget for it. And aside from the occasional 6-pack of Wizards/Rainbows, Coleus are pretty pricey the past few yrs. I'm only seeing them in bigger pots for $10 & up on the rare occasions when I see them, and they're usually orange. Not really into the orange ones. Of my current selection, some have been with me for almost a decade. I don't need to start with a huge one, but don't mind the price if it's reasonable for the size because it is an investment in something I'll have for years, but I have to really like it. My limit for buying plants for the year is well under $100 so I can't afford to buy all new of anything, and especially not when it's something so easy to save and can't survive if not saved. By saving, I am able to have 50-100 Coleus plants in my landscape. What other people do is none of my concern, but I'll try to help if it's something I've done before.

I do stick stems in pots with existing plants where there is "air space" for a Coleus over winter, but my primary method of saving since I lived in OH has always been to put cut stems in jars of water. Put the jars on windowsills and make sure they don't run out of water. The wider the opening, the better, there will be a huge mass of roots to remove in the spring. I don't bother digging up any roots to save Coleus that way, and have learned that it's best to not wait. Do it before Coleus plants have had to suffer through nights in the 40's. So much less likely to go mushy instead of take root after that, but while still warm, works so well. No "soil" involved, and uses space that is too small for pots at my house anyway & would otherwise go unused. Some windowsills are a decent width...
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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
pirl
Nov 3, 2018 8:37 AM CST
For many years the now late Ralph Snodsmith hosted the radio gardening show, The Garden Hotline, and answered questions each Saturday and Sunday morning. He strongly suggested bringing coleus (and other tender plants that had spent the summer outdoors) inside when the outdoor and indoor temperature were similar. For me it meant September. The plants went out again in late May, once again when indoor and outdoor temp's were similar. I've never gone wrong following his advice.
Zone 5
ShouldItryagain
Nov 5, 2018 11:12 AM CST
Thanks to all who took the time to write. Here's my blog post on the subject, in which I quote some of you:

www.chicagonow.com/retired-in-chicago/2018/11/reluctantly-im-giving-up-on-overwintering-tender-perennials-indoors

Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Christine
Nov 6, 2018 8:11 AM CST
Try this direct link, so you don't need to copy & paste, very nice blog
http://www.chicagonow.com/reti...
[Last edited by Christine - Nov 6, 2018 8:12 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1850297 (18)
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Nov 6, 2018 1:27 PM CST
I don't usually bother with sweet potatoes and coleus...
I usually save the sweet potato tubers until they sprout, and then plant outside.

but... my salvia coccinea is doing very well, as are the peppers that I bring in every winter...
Trying something new this winter... buckeye seedlings with honey locust seedlings...
Also, gotta bring in the orange grove!

As to why you are having trouble...
I would suggest that the extra heat in the plant room combined with over-watering.
So easy to love our babies to death!

I have my plants in an unheated room... possible here, might not be there...
and.. water only after the soil has completely dried out. So... 2 or 3 times all winter!

As long as I am making it easier, I came to another decision: Never again will I try to keep perennials alive outdoors in pots.


hmmm.
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
Nov 7, 2018 6:57 PM CST
I save my coleus indoors during the summer. My German Ivy too. The ivy I usually take cuttings and root, then pot so I can separate them in spring. I bring in my geraniums too. I leave them in the pots. One year I hung them in the basement and that worked too, but I was too afraid I'd forget the dipping in water during the winter. I'm too fugal to spend more than I have to on plants. This year's winter plan is to grow coleus from seed too. I've collected so many seeds this fall, my house will be overrun should I be lucky enough to have them sprout. But to have an abundance of plants in the spring will be so much fun. It's all I can do not to start them now.

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