Saturday, March 26, 2022

More Coleus Please

 Last year I had the most gorgeous display of shade tolerant annuals on our front steps.

Shady Front Steps Loaded with Annual Pots

While most went into the compost pile at the end of the season, I decided to see if I could keep a few over the winter.

The Pegasus Begonia is in a spare room, looking rather sad & sparse after I continually forgot about it, then gave it a good drink, then completely forgot about it once again.

A little worse for wear after a winter of on & off neglect

There is a tiny bit of new growth coming up at the bottom, though, so that's a good sign.

New growth at the base...very promising!

I am also overwintering a caladium that I dug up and the corm is sitting in the closet in a paper bag.  I'll have to look into when I should be taking that out and planting it up - I have a feeling it's something I should be doing right about now.

Then there's the tuberous begonia that I simply left to die back in the pot and placed in a corner of our basement...and there it still sits.  Good thing I'm writing this post as it's reminding me of things I have to do.  I'll be back in a minute....

Tuberous begonia - placed under lights & watered

I literally just went to the basement, took the pot out of the corner, placed it under the grow lights and watered it.

Last but not least was the gorgeous 'Wicked Witch' coleus - it was definitely my favourite of all the coleus varieties I grew last year.  I kept it going over the winter under the grow lights and it did really well.  I pinched it back a few times and it stayed fairly compact.  I didn't think to take a before picture, but I'll give you an after picture:

The 'Mother' plant...it's job was done
and it was tossed into the compost pile shortly thereafter

So backtrack to when the 'Mother' plant was still intact.  I looked it over and took 6 nice cuttings.  They weren't too big - ranging in size from 2-3" long - but they all had beautiful, dense leaves.

Look at those large, healthy leaves!

I stripped the bottom of the stems and re-cut them just below a node.

Lower leaves removed & snipped just below a node


Stem cuttings done

I used a large, deep cell pack & filled it with my normal seed starting mix, ProMix HP.  I could probably also have used potting soil, but I already had the HP ready to go so I went with that.  I then made a hole into each cell with a chopstick, dipped the bottom 1/2" or so of the  cuttings into rooting hormone, and stuck in into each hole.

Coleus does root quite readily, but I had the rooting powder on hand and
after nurturing the plant all winter, I wanted a bit of added assurance

Then I pressed the soil around each stem and watered them in to make sure they had good stem-soil contact.  Done.

Under the lights...now we wait

I remember a couple that we visited in Minneapolis that overwintered dozens of coleus each year...it was inspiring and their garden is where my opinion of coleus went from "meh" to "wow!".  While I'll likely never overwinter that many, I'm really happy with my experiment this year...but I'll leave it at that as I don't want to jinx it 😊

Sidebar - Patents and Plant Propogation

Many plants that you see out there in garden centres are patented which prohibits asexual propagation.  So technically, if you have a patented plant in your garden, it is illegal to divide, layer, or take a stem cutting from it.  That being said, breeders are far more concerned about propagation for profit, especially if it's on a large scale, than gardeners taking a few cuttings or dividing a plant for their own personal use.  If you are at all concerned - or if it niggles at you as it does me -  then do a simple search to see (1) if the plant in question is patented and (2) if it is patented, how long ago that was since patents expire after 20 years.  In my case, a quick google search revealed that 'Wicked Witch' - developed at the University of Florida - is not patented, so all was good.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

11 comments:

  1. I hope all your shade plants come through to shine again as the weather warms, Margaret! I have problems overwintering coleus too but that's not so much a climate issue as a matter of patience and haphazard follow-ups ;)

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    1. Thank you Kris! Follow-up has always been an issue for me too. I did forget about it & let it dry out a few times (they are so thirsty!) but thankfully it was forgiving.

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  2. Yes, please! (To more Coleus!) Good idea to overwinter them. Your front steps looked fabulous last year, and I'm sure they'll look amazing this growing season, too!

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  3. Martyn has just sown some coleus but I doubt that they will produce such a stunning colour as it's a mixed packet of seeds

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    1. I've tried growing coleus from seed and didn't have much luck. Not sure if I will try again or not as they are so many gorgeous varieties available at the garden centres & they are reasonably priced.

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  4. Coleus are stunning plants, so many varieties with different colours. There's some gardens near here which have a stunning display in their greenhouse. I've grown them from seed in the past but it's a long time since I've had any now.

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    1. I grew them from seed a few years ago but they didn't really do all that well - I'll likely try again at some point.

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  5. I love coleus too....and I love how you got so many more!

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