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How to Propagate Coleus

By: James A. Baggett James A. Baggett
Want to save your coleus plants for next season? Check out this easy way to propagate coleus by taking leaf cuttings to overwinter favorite varieties.

Coleus plant combination: This combination of  Coleus Wasabi and Coleus Rustic Orange is a showstopper in a garden border.

How to propagate coleus from leaf cuttings

Coleus are only cold hardy in zones 10 to 11, and most gardeners in North America grow them as annuals. If you’ve never met a coleus plant you didn’t like, then you’ll surely want to know how to keep them growing from year to year. It’s a simple process to propagate new plants from one you admire. See the easy steps below to learn to take coleus cuttings of your own.

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how-to-grow-coleus-from-cutting-take-cutting-from-main-plant-480: Growing coleus from cuttings starts with removing a 4- to 6-inch leaf segment from the mother plant.

Step 1: Take a coleus leaf cutting

Take a cutting from a mature coleus plant: Look for stems that are 4 to 6 inches in length. Make the cut using pruners or scissors right above a leaf node, which is where the leaves come out of the sides of the stem (where you make the cut, the plant will produce two stems from where the old one was, making the plant bushier). Don’t make the cuttings too large; they will not root as well or — if rooted — will become tall and lanky instead of compact.

how-to-grow-coleus-from-cutting-remove-lower-leaves: Removing the lower leaves helps keep debris out of the water.

Step 2: Remove extra leaves

Remove the lower leaves, leaving the top set of four leaves. Any part of the cutting that will be below the surface of the water should be free of leaves. The cutting is now ready for rooting in water.

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Put coleus cutting in water: Add coleus cuttings to fresh water to root.

Step 3: Put coleus cuttings in water

Place the coleus cuttings in a glass jar filled with water. Place the jar in a bright place out of direct sun in a 60 to 75 degree F room. Several cuttings may be placed together in one container.

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Step 4: Watch the coleus root

Rooting will generally occur in 3 to 4 weeks. Be sure to add fresh water as needed until the cuttings are fully rooted. When roots are 1 to 2 inches long or longer the cuttings are ready to be potted up. Rooted cuttings will survive in water for long periods of time.

We took photos of this coleus over a couple of weeks time, watch it grow in the time lapse video above!

Once roots form on your coleus cutting, pot them up in soil: Once roots have reached 1 to 2 inches in length, they are ready to be potted up.

Step 5: Plant rooted cuttings

  • Premoisten the potting mix in 3- or 4-inch pots and plant so the top of the root ball is an inch or so below the rim of the pot.
  • Fill in the spaces around the roots with additional premoistened potting mix and gently press around the cutting to provide good contact between the roots and the mix.

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Published: March 30, 2022
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