How to Propagate Coleus

October 27, 2010

One of my favorite plants is coleus. As annuals, coleus die after one season, usually from the first frost. However, coleus are easy to propagate. With a few simple steps and little care, you can have a whole flat of coleus to plant outdoors next spring. Here are two methods to propagate coleus, and most any type of cutting.

Material for First Method:

  • Pony packs or 1” pots
  • Sharp snips or razor blade
  • Rooting hormone
  • Starter soil
  • Drip trays 

Note:  If you are reusing nursery pots, be sure to sterilize them inside, and out with a stiff brush dipped in one-part bleach to nine-parts water, rinse thoroughly with water. Always sterilize cutting tools before trimming. This will help eliminate any possibility of transferring diseases. 

  1. Fill pots with starter soil, wet thoroughly. You may have to stir the soil like cake batter to ensure that all of it gets wet.
  2. Select only healthy stems and cut them just above the soil.
  3. Cut stems into sections making sure each has two leaf nodes. Leave 2 inches of stem below the lower node.
  4. Remove all leaves except the top two. Do not leave any flower shoots.
  5. Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone just above the bottom node.
  6. Place the cuttings in pots filled with wet starter soil. You can plant 2-3 cuttings per pot about half-an-inch apart.
  7. Lightly push soil around cuttings just enough to secure it.
  8. Water well.
  9. Place indoors near a window with filtered sunlight.
  10. Keep cuttings moist, not soggy.


 Material for Second Method:

  • Sharp snips or razor blade
  • Room-temperature water
  • 3-inch pots
  • Jars  
  1. Fill each jar with water.
  2. Follow steps 2-4 in the first propagation method above.
  3. Place in jars by a window with filtered sunlight. Change the water daily.
  4. Once the cuttings have 3-inch roots (this takes about two weeks), transplant to 3-inch pots.
  5. Keep moist, and place in a sunny window.


  1. The coleus was also one of my favorite plants; but as you noted they usually die off after a season. I gave up after awhile because I got tired of replacing them year after year. They were replaced with perennials.
    I will keep your report handy in case I decide to use them in my garden again.


  2. Retrofitting an existing east, west or south-facing window with a pop-out garden window solves the space problem. However, a south facing garden window may cause a build-up of too much heat for any plants there in the summer.
    Seed starting soil is a great medium to use for cuttings! I like to use a pencil to make a hole in the middle of each pot, then place the cutting into the hole, then firm the soil around the cutting. That way, use don’t lose much of the rooting hormone.


  3. Either a pencil or bamboo would do the job!!


  4. My husband, who does not give me many presents, came home with a coleus a few years ago. I didn’t know much about them at the time. Of course, I thought it was beautiful with those vivid colored leaves. It did great till winter. That was the year I learned about that plant.

    So, a person could put the cuttings in a pop-out garden window (my kitchen window faces west – wish I had a pop-out – except when it comes to cleaning the glass) That is another thing I can wish for to add to my others!!


  5. When it comes to gardening, any tool that will get the job done can be used. When you want a hole punched in the soil, grab whatever is handy. The only thing that matters is your own satisfaction for a job well done.


  6. Don’t we all wish that our significant other can cook for us? We all wish to be “Queen for a Day” or more.


  7. You’re so correct about “waiting” on the wish list. One day, our time will come.


  8. Betty, do you remember the song “That’l be the Day” ? I think that was the name of it. Probably late 50’s or early 60’s.


  9. We really are so blessed with what we do have, I know most of you will agree. People in some of the other countries around the world don’t have nearly what we have. We are lucky to have roofs over our head and heat in our houses.

    I will not complain, but it is fun to have something to look forward to in the future (whether it comes to pass or not).

    On the rainy windy nights I think of the homeless people and hope they have a place for them in the shelters.


  10. Dianne is amazing. She can do anything she sets out to do. I am willing to bet that if she tries, she can keep a coleus growing for years.


  11. You are right. We are blessed. I am reminded of the homeless every day. They sit around the green belt in the neighborhood and go through the garbage cans on pick up day for recyclables.


  12. “That’l be the Day” –heard of it, but don’t remember the words. I think we had it easier back then.


  13. Yes, we owe a big thank you to Dianne for the garden information she gives us. I know she works hard doing this and I appreciate it very much.


  14. Dianne, you had an earlier blog on Brussels Sprouts. I got a 24″ stalk. I was amazed it had 63 sprouts on it. I am going to freeze some because my husband doesn’t like them and I am not eating 63 sprouts!! I didn’t realize there were so many on there. Wow. (I got the stalk at Apple Hill).


  15. Wow, 63 sprouts! Is that a record? Too much for me.


  16. We’re sure lucky that Dianne live at or near our “zone” so that we can apply or try out whatever she has written about without worry about climate change.


  17. The best reward for reading Dianne’s blog is getting to “know” about other people’s results and learning how they handled a particular situation.


  18. One thing I learned from Dianne’s blog the other day is how to spell something. All my life I had spelled, and pronounced Brussels Sprouts as BRUSSEL SPROUTS. I was sure the Brussel part did not have an S at the end. Looked it up and for sure, she was right.


  19. Speaking again of Brussels Sprouts, hope this is not getting boring!! I cooked some with a Chuck Roast, carrots, onions, potatoes in the McCormack Cooking Bag with seasonings. We had it for dinner tonight. It was tasty and delicious.

    My favorite part was the sprouts which cooked in the gravy. Yum.

    Needless to say, Jim didn’t eat any.

    i have lots left to cook. We have leftovers and I am going to cook some more to put in with the leftovers as I only have one left from today.


  20. I am still seriously thinking about getting some rooting hormone and starting some Redwood Trees. They grow fairly fast.

    My neighbor had some and they didn’t get watered and looked nearly dead and they cut them off down low and now they have grown back up and look great. That is hard to believe, but it is true.


  21. Dianne, I like the way you circled to show us the two leaf nodes. Some of us need those details shown in such a way.

    You are so lucky to know what you know to be able to do what you do with your blog.

    Your pictures are always so great.


  22. Some will see the glass as half full, others will see it as half empty. Different perspectives but both correct.


  23. Unfortunately not everyone likes to eat Brussels Sprouts no matter how it is cooked.


  24. A picture is worth a thousand words. Dianne knows how to combine both beautifully.


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