How to Propagate Coleus From Seed or Cuttings (With Amazing Results Every Time!)

Written by Phil Dubley
Updated: November 15, 2022
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Coleus is a beloved plant that boasts vibrant colors all year long if kept under the proper conditions. It requires little maintenance — plenty of indirect sunlight and moist soil are enough to have a healthy coleus.

In this article, you will learn the two most popular methods to propagate coleus: from seeds and from cuttings. One of the many benefits of this plant is that it is extremely easy to propagate — if you follow these steps, we guarantee you will obtain some stunning new flowers!

What Do I Need To Propagate Coleus Successfully?

Propagating coleus is an extraordinarily quick and straightforward process requiring only a few basic items. The only things you will need to propagate coleus are:

  • Your coleus cuttings or seeds — depending on the method
  • A knife, scissors, or pruning shears
  • A container or pot
  • Water
  • Potting soil

Once you have all the required items, you can skip ahead to the actual propagating process, but if you are still missing the cuttings, you will learn how to take them in the next section.

How To Propagate Coleus From Cuttings

The most common way of propagating coleus is through stem cuttings, a fast and effective method that can be done in soil or water. We’ll get started from the very beginning in the following section!

How to Take Coleus Cuttings

The first step to taking the cuttings is deciding which plant you will use. We recommend choosing a mature plant that appears strong and you especially like the look of it. Taking a cutting from a mature plant will also help rejuvenate it, stimulating the development of its current foliage and making it look bushier.

It is also important to choose the stem correctly since some of them will not root well. You want to avoid the stems that feel hard to the touch and look slightly woody. The best ones you can use for propagating will be green and soft.

Once you find the ideal stems, cut right below a leaf node — the bumps where the leaves or stems come from. Ensure the cutting is no more than 6 inches long since anything longer may not root well or become leggy. The last step is pinching off the lower leaves of the cutting, leaving only the top ones intact. Everything that will be below soil or water should be free of leaves.

Rooting Coleus Cuttings in Water

You can root your coleus cuttings in two ways: in water or soil. Propagating coleus in water is the easiest method.

To get the best results, use a clear glass and fill it with lukewarm water. All you have to do now is place the cutting in the water and let it root for a couple of weeks, usually no more than a month. As with mature coleus, place the rooting plant in a spot with lots of indirect sunlight, in a warm and humid room if possible.

Be careful not to let the leaves touch the water since they could rot. Also, watch out for other signs of rotting, such as murky water. Replacing the water every couple of days is an excellent way to keep the roots healthy. Moreover, it would be best if you always ensured there are at least two nodes submerged at any time.

Coleus cuttings propagation

For the best results propagating coleus, use a clear glass filled with lukewarm water. Place it in a warm and humid room to help it thrive.

©StephenVanHove/Shutterstock.com

Transplanting the Cuttings

When the roots are 1 or 2 inches long, it is a good time to plant the cuttings into individual pots or outdoors. Try to take only a short time doing this since the stems could start to rot!

Prepare a pot with potting soil and make a little hole to place the cutting. Make sure the stem fits snuggly against the soil by filling all empty spaces around the roots, and you will be ready to go. Remember to regularly water the plant and ensure that the soil is always moist.

Rooting Coleus Cuttings in Soil

Propagating coleus in soil produces stronger roots and minimizes the chance of risks like rotting or transplant shock. This method is also exceedingly simple, requiring only a bit more work.

Start by preparing the pot you will use with lightweight potting soil and pre-moisten it. Next, create a few holes for your cuttings and place them so the leafless part is completely buried but not deep enough that the top leaves are touching the soil. The last step is making sure that the medium remains moist. This can be done by watering often or making a humidity tent to cover the plant for as long as it is rooting.

After about a month, or when you notice new leaves are growing, the roots will be long enough to transplant. They can go either outside or into individual pots; just remember that coleus is not resistant to cold and will likely die at low temperatures.

How to Propagate Coleus From Seeds

Whether you chose to propagate coleus in water or soil, you should have a healthy plant by now. To make sure you never run out of coleus, consider storing its seeds to propagate again in the future. Follow the next steps to learn how to grow a coleus plant from scratch.

How to Harvest Coleus Seeds

Collecting coleus seeds is an easy task, but it should be done carefully since you run the risk of losing them. Start by choosing a strong and mature coleus and let it flower naturally. Around fall, you should notice that the flowers are losing some petals, and the seed pods are becoming brown and drying — this means the seeds are ready for harvesting. Cut off the seed pods using a pair of scissors or shears, and take them carefully to a dry place indoors.

Drying and Storing Coleus Seeds

Now that you have the seed pods, let them dry completely in a container such as a paper bag. Let it sit for around two weeks, shaking the bag every so often so the seeds do not stick together.

When the seeds finish drying, take them out of the bag and cautiously place them on a clean and clear surface. Proceed to separate any unwanted matter before storing the seeds in clean paper envelopes. We advise you to write down the date and the plant the seeds belong to, just in case.

Sowing Coleus Seeds

To plant your coleus seeds, you only need a container, potting soil, and plastic wrap.

Once you have found a large pot with good drainage, fill it with potting soil and moisten it beforehand. Sprinkle the seeds lightly all over the soil and sift the medium enough to cover them. The last step is wrapping the container at the top with cling film to keep the environment warm and humid.

You should remove the plastic when the seedlings appear after around two weeks. From now on, remember to keep the soil moist and ensure the plant receives bright indirect sunlight most of the day.

When the seedlings grow their first two sets of leaves, it is time to transplant them into individual pots or the garden if the temperature exceeds 65 F.

baby coleus plants

Remove the plastic wrap once your coleus seedlings have sprouted.

©iStock.com/Lena_Zajchikova

What Is the Best Time To Propagate Coleus?

Coleus is not a winter-hardy plant, and it does best in hardiness zones 10 and 11, where it can enjoy the moisture and warmth of the environment. For this reason, we recommend avoiding the cooler months for propagation unless you can find an indoor spot with the ideal growth conditions for coleus.

The perfect time to start propagating coleus, whether in water or soil, is during early spring or summer. This is coleus’ most productive growing period, and you will see the best results if you begin the process in this season.

Want to learn more about this amazing plant? Check out our complete guide to the coleus here.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © StephenVanHove/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

My name is Phil Dubley, I am a Canadian living in Argentina, but tomorrow I could be writing from anywhere else. Throughout my life, I've been in love with nature: plants, animals, people, and everything in it. I have a passion for wild animals - snakes, sharks, and felines have always fascinated me. As for plants, I love succulents. I have a collection of over ten different varieties on my terrace. Also, I use the hemp plant as CBD oil for sleep: it has been the only thing to tackle my insomnia effectively. I want to share all my knowledge about the areas I am passionate about with others who feel the same way. I hope you enjoy my articles, and in each one, you learn something new!

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Sources
  1. Den Garden, Available here: https://dengarden.com/gardening/How-to-Propagate-Coleus-from-Cuttings
  2. Garden Gate Magazine, Available here: https://www.gardengatemagazine.com/articles/how-to/divide/how-to-propagate-coleus/
  3. Gardening Know-How, Available here: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/foliage/coleus/coleus-propagation.htm
  4. SF Gate, Available here: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/save-coleus-flower-seeds-65371.html