How to Root Coleus

This technique roots coleus in water

How to root coleus cuttings in water to make new plants for free

Coleus are one of the easiest plants to propagate from cuttings. I prefer to root mine in water, but they can also be rooted in soil. For this article I will be focusing on rooting them in water. Many of you have asked what kind of dish this is to the left. It's actually a flower frog on top of a glass bowl. You can find flower frogs at flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales. If you decide to use a flower frog when rooting your cuttins, make sure you remove the flower frog before the roots get too thick.


Coleus cuttings can be rooted at any time of year. I root some in the Spring to get more plants for the garden and I root some more in the Fall to overwinter the plants indoors. They get kind of leggy over the winter, so I root a new batch about 4 weeks before planting time, in the spring.

How to root coleus cuttings in water to make new plants for free

Cut 4"-5" pieces of coleus off each plant you want to propagate. Choose the healthiest looking plants that don't have a disease or a pest problem. Remove any flower stalks that may be on the plants.

How to root coleus cuttings in water to make new plants for free

Remove the leaves from the stem leaving 1-2 small leaves at the top of the stem. If the leaves are very large, cut the leaves in half. Since the coleus plant does not have roots, it cannot sustain a large leaf, but it needs a few small leaves for photosynthesis which creates energy to grow roots.
How to root coleus cuttings in water to make new plants for free

Make a fresh cut just under a leaf node and put the stem immediately in a small glass of room temperature non-chlorinated water (if you water is chlorinated, just leave a glass on the counter over-night so that the chlorine can evaporate). Make sure about 2" of the stem remains in water. Roots will usually grow from the leaf node areas. A leaf node is just the term used for the area where a leaf grows from the stem.

Change the water every couple of days to keep it clean and fresh. If you can use non-chlorinated water, that is best. You should begin to see roots growing in 1-2 weeks.

How to root coleus cuttings in water to make new plants for free

Once you have several roots that are about 3" long, it's safe to pot up your coleus cuttings. To do that, simply add moistened potting soil mix to a small pot, make a hole with a pencil in the soil, and put the cutting inside the hole. Make sure all the roots are underneath the soil and then gently press the soil around the stem.

Water the pot lightly and cover with a clear plastic bag to help retain moisture. Sit the pot in a sunny window.

After 1-2 weeks of your coleus being in soil, your plant should be showing signs of growth by sprouting new leaves. At this time, it is OK to remove the plastic bag. Check the soil once a week and water if the top inch of soil feels dry. Do not allow the pot to sit in water as the roots may rot. Enjoy your free plants!

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