2015 Update

I apologize for not keeping up with this blog. That is not to say I haven’t been keeping up with the Coleus. I just haven’t felt like typing it all out. It is almost too overwhelming at times.

Last fall I had surgery for melanoma on my arm, which prevented me from lifting trays of plants and caring for and watering them. Fortunately my husband, Stan, took over for me. The scales and mealybugs also took over. We lost a lot of commercial varieties, but were able to replace many of them. We also lost some that were irreplaceable, that is, a few of my hybrids. A couple of the Hybrids lost were Mascara and Seersucker Punch. I really like that name, and will probably pass the name down to another hybrid of mine in the future if I find an appropriate one.

The hybrids I did create from seed a couple years ago that survived this winter saw their full potential this year. They turned out gorgeous. I will try posting some pictures of them as time permits. We also found more hybrids that were not as developed last year that really came into their own this year, and we named them. I’ll be posting those too, as well as some commercial varieties we found in greenhouses and garden centers that are new this year.

We will be changing the way we overwinter the plants. We will be taking clippings rather than trimming them down in the pots. Although the latter method worked well a couple years ago, we also think that scales have a better chance of surviving that way as well. Scales seem to start colonies in the roots which cannot be seen. If you start with fresh clippings and pot in new soil, there won’t be any scales. A lot of our Coleus have mealybugs too (we suspect they started with some we got from a greenhouse last year and they infected the other plants). The mealybugs are cleaned off the clippings with witch hazel before we put them in cups of water to take root. We are hoping this method will work well. We are not throwing out the original plant yet until we have its rooted clone in soil and it is thriving, just in case the cutting dies, we’ll still have the original plant to take more cuttings from. We are beginning the process now, and it is taking quite a bit of time!

Here are the supplies we have for this:

  • Rose clippers
  • Sheet of adhesive printable Labels – at least 2 sets – backaddress size works well, and if you have a database of your plants, you can print them at the Avery label site.
  • Blank Plant Labels – These are the kind that are white plastic, about 6 inches long. I always like to make an extra label for each plant because often times the one that comes with the plant from the greenhouse gets flipped out of the pot. Also you can include information on your label like year bought, greenhouse bought from, etc.
  • Plant label markers (Sharpies do not work…they fade. Make sure you buy an actual garden marker)
  • Witch Hazel to clean off mealybugs with
  • Disposable Paper or Plastic Cups…small paper or plastic cups from a grocery store work well. Of course you don’t need to dispose of them…just keep them for the following year.
  • Plant trays – We use the black ones with 32 cells (4×8). These support the small plastic cups for rootings.
  • Cotton Swab or paint brush – use for dabbing the witch hazel onto effected areas of the cuttings
  • Clean Potting Soil
  • Small Plastic Plant Pots – for the cuttings once they have grown roots

We clip off small side growths formed at the nodes. Stan claims that the small growth works better for growing roots and creating a new plant. Older growth, like from the main stem, tends to want to form flowers, which is bad. Younger growth seems to be more rejuvenative. We take about 3-6 cuttings per plant. We clean them off with witch hazel to kill mealy or any scales. We place them in a small plastic cup with water, and the cup is affixed with a label. Multiple cups are placed in the black plastic plant trays, and placed under plant lights until they grow roots. Then they are planted in a small plastic plant pot. You can use the plastic plant label sticks in these, or you can label the pot with an adhesive label. Adhesive labels will be more permanent, but you can re-use the label sticks when you pot up to larger pots in the summer.

The images posted are of maroon-colored hybrids. We decided to just number them 1 through 15 rather than give them actual names.

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One thought on “2015 Update

  1. Hoping we can have fewer insect problems this winter. The Scale are especially deadly, and by not keeping the main stem we should avoid bringing indoors. If we grow these maroon plants another year in more sun they may show some more interesting leaf colors. Hope this works.

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