Mid-July Coleus Maintenance

The mosquitos are very thick and the entire eastern half of the country is having a heatwave. This makes doing much with the Coleus gang pretty difficult. Fortunately, there’s not that much to do right now. As long as they have hydration, they’re loving this heat, unlike myself.

Each morning while most mosquitos are still in a state of slumber, I go out to do a flower check. I pinch off all flowers on the Coleus, because once they bloom, the plant starts to die. This will be impossible to do while on vacation. Hopefully I won’t lose too many when that happens. Finding the flower bud is very challenging. These things have a way of disguising themselves so they look like new leaf growth. Sometimes I don’t discover the flower until it has already bloomed and it’s a long light lavender bluish spire. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the actual flower colors are a color not found in the leaves, so at least they’re recognizable when they’ve gotten to that point. I say unfortunately because it would be so awesome if they developed Coleus to have a light bluish purple color. Or silver. Wouldn’t silver be a wonderful color? Think Pileas and Peperomias.

I’ve found a few Coleus that have been having a little problem of leaves curling up and drying out. I don’t know the exact cause, but in case it is downy mildew, I’ve been spraying it with Captan, a fungicide. Oddly, most of these plants have been red. Coincidence, or is it something in some red gene? Is it burning? Like redheads burn easily? They also don’t seem to like being sprayed with hose water from above. Instead, I try to aim directly at the soil on each individual pot. Stan says it has something to do with rain water being acidic (which they love), but not so much tap water. Since i’ve stopped hose spraying from above, they’ve been doing better.

The plants I overwintered had a lot of elongated stems or sticks. Once I’m sure that the plant has viable growth at the base, I clip off all the long stems with growth at the nodes or top and stick them into the soil of the pot (it helps to make a long hole for it first…a chopstick or pencil works well) This then lets the plant focus its energy at the basal growth, and the new “stick plants” start to take root, providing the pot with more bushiness. Sometimes the new “stick plants” will start to wilt immediately, especially on hot days. Sometimes, but rarely, that cutting will simply die. Sometimes there will be no wilting at all, and it will be perfectly happy. And other times it will wilt and look like a goner, but it will eventually take root and perk up. A few lower leaves might have irreparable cellular damage, but the new cutting will be viable and put out new growth where it lost the leaves. Just remember to always keep the soil moist when doing this. I read that rooting directly in soil produces stronger roots as opposed to rooting in water.

I would love to take new “How am I doing now?” pictures of each plant to show how much they’ve grown and changed since I first took pictures this spring, but the heat is insufferable. Hoping for a cool wave soon.

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One thought on “Mid-July Coleus Maintenance

  1. It is really impressive how the stems are rooting directly in the soil. This time of year the soil often dries out and the heat causes leaves to wilt, but the stems are surviving. It must be the the heat helps them generate roots quickly, so it turns out that this is a great time of year to root stems. The heat also causes them to generate more flowers, and it is crazy how fast they put them out. Plants look great.

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