Coleus Cuttings: Are they the Easiest Cuttings You’ll Ever Root?

If coleus (Solenostemon) is not the easiest plant cutting to root, then it must be ranked at the top of the plant propagator’s list right next to the willows. It’s such a great foliage plant why not make more?

How to Propagate Coleus

The procedure is simple, just take a cutting with two leaves and some stem (about 2 inches is good), pinch the terminal growth and put it in water. Now here’s the really important part, the most critical part, you have to wait for roots to grow. That’s it! No rooting hormone is needed. You could get away with sticking the stem in moist potting soil and skip the water treatment altogether but if you’re like me, you will want to see the roots before you plant them!


How Long Does it Take for Cuttings to Root?

Before too long, in less than a week you’ll have roots that look like this, ready for planting. Don’t wait too long to plant them since they will lose their vigor. Notice that the roots are coming from the stem rather than the node.

After rooting you can plant them in pots or out in the garden. Just make sure that you keep them moist until they get well established. Propagating coleus through stem cuttings is a great way to save these extremely tender perennials over the winter. Just take a few cuttings of your favorite coleus plants from your garden and bring them inside. When they root pot them up and put them where they can get adequate light inside your house. As they grow feel free to take more cuttings and add to your coleus collection. Don’t forget to pinch the terminal growth (the little sips at the end of the stems where the new leaves grow from) periodically to keep your coleus from getting too leggy. When spring comes you will have plenty of coleus for your garden.

If you’re looking for something easy to get started in propagating give coleus a try!


25 Replies to “Coleus Cuttings: Are they the Easiest Cuttings You’ll Ever Root?”

  1. Great advice! I’ve done very little with cuttings, but this is one I have tried. You’re absolutely right, they are very easy. Great for beginners.

  2. They are definitely easy! Love these little plants.

  3. They are easy. This year I rooted one without even intending to. A piece broke off of one I was planting and since the foliage is so pretty I thought, let me just put this in some water and enjoy it before it dies. Well, it never died, it grew roots – how great is that!

  4. Wish I could do this but with cats in the house, a no go for me. 🙁

    I do this will philodendron. I can put them up high out of kitties reach as they dont require too much sun….

  5. Isn’t it nice when Mother Nature sends us a no-brainer every once in a while?

  6. Hi Dave, you are so right about these being so easy. I don’t even put them in water, just stick them in the ground when shaping the plant or if a piece breaks off. They break very easily. Skeeter should try that outside, no need to worry about the kitties then.

  7. I knew about the easy rooting in water but that they would root in the ground is a new one on me.

  8. I’m rooting some for my neighbor. I give him plants all the time. I like sharing. But do need to root more for myself. Next project real soon.
    They are so colorful, I really like them.

  9. PG,

    You can’t go wrong with a coleus cutting!


    I like them too, I wish they were cold hardy here, but then they wouldn’t be coleus.


    Don’t you just love those bonus plants!


    Listen to Frances! You could do these outside just as easily as inside.


    No brainers sure are nice, I could use the help sometimes! 😉


    Good advice!


    I’d rather start them in water first just so I can monitor the rooting process, but it should work fine either way.


    Gardeners are always generous! You had better go make some for yourself! I’ll take a look at that plant you sent me although right off the bat I don’t know, but I do have several tree ID books that may help.

  10. thank you for this tip Dave and thank you too for visiting my site. I have several varieties of coleus plant and we call them “mayana” too.

  11. Your welcome Arlene! It’s neat to go visit foreign bloggers to see what they have in their gardens. I didn’t know there was another name for coleus, thanks for the info!

  12. I was given a coleus a couple months ago and it bloomed. Looked gorgeous, however, now most of the purple flowers on the stalks have fallen off and died. This is an inside plant for me. Am I suppose to trim the stalks off after they bloom?? I am clueless on this plant and the only thing I can find is that they are easy to take care of…any advise is helpful. Thanks.

  13. Hi Michelle!

    Eventually the flowers fade and fall off. It's just part of the process of making more seeds. Just trim it back to a point before the flower stalks began. Are the leaves still in good condition?

  14. **Google search brought me to this page, and while my comment is late, it's on-topic.


    I bought three coleus and potted them outside. My cats (I assume) broke off a piece of one of them and I found it before it had started wilting. Instead of throwing it away, I just stuck the stem into the pot next to the other three plants. I didn't expect it to do anything but die – but it's been about a month and it's a full-size plant now.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I read some where that you should pinch the purple flowers off to make it bush out? So if you leave the flower on in the garden, it will multiply from the seeds of the flower?


    1. Sharon,

      That is true. Pinch the stems back some will induce branching which will make a bushier plant. If you do let it seed you can gather the seed to sow next spring. I've let my plants go at the end of the season but never has volunteer germination in the garden. I have had germination from saved seeds though.

  16. I live in MS and have successfully grown coleus from seed in a container for two years now. I have just learned about growing additional plants from clippings and I am currently trying it out. My clippings are in water now.

    My coleus get indirect light all day on the front porch. From what I've seen at the stores (i.e. Lowe's and WalMart) and from people's reactions when they see my coleus, it is very large. Is there a mammoth variety? I think that must be what I have if so.

    Thick stalks of dark maroon leaves with green edges pour out of the container reaching for the sunlight. I love the little blue spires of flowers and have never pinched mine back – any bushier and I would have a coleus forest! I am actually hoping they don't do quite so well indoors. I don't really want such a large plant in my home.

    How long do the plants indoors that have been taken from clippings last? All winter and then transfer outdoors for the summer? Or start from new clippings from indoor plants for outdoor summer growth?

    1. Jenny,

      You can do it either way. Or both! I've planted potted plant that overwintered and taken cuttings from them and put the cuttings out in the spring. They really area perennial and will last as long as they don't get killed by a frost.

    2. Hi Dave: Since it's now May 2013, I'm not sure you'll see this, but I came here after something very unexpected happened. For years now, I've taken fall cuttings and wintered over my coleus indoors as discussed above. However, last summer, I'd taken and planted so many cuttings, that last fall, some were just 'let go' to winters effects. Now, I live in East Central Georgia, and while we don't have the most extreme winters here, and I know that coming from Wisconsin. But, Just today, I noticed that several of the 'Dead Stocks' from last year Are Sprouting from their bases, as if they Truly Are Perennial. I checked our weather history here, and we had 67 days at or below freezing, 44 of those in the 20's and one, down to 18 which was our Coldest Temp. And I have Coleus growing like a perennial. Have You EVER heard of such a thing before? And yes, it IS a Coleus. One that gets a little over 3 feet tall by the end of summer and is the bet colored Red that Everyone Passingby comments on all year long. But this 'Sprouting' and coming back is a brand new one for me… Rich Teasdale

    3. Count yourself one lucky gardener! Coleus is a perennial in warm locations but not usually that far north. You may have it in a nice spot where it gets residual heat through the winter creating a microclimate. It's also possible that you may have a more hardy variety. Do you know the variety name?

  17. Remember propagating these as a teenager so when the wind blew my father-in-laws plant off of the shelf outside and snapped off the roots i decided to search for a site to remind me of how i did it. wont he be surprised when i return his 'dead' coleus, and appear to have some new ones myself ? thanks for the info.

  18. Does it matter where i put my cuttings in water to grow roots, can i keep it in light or dark? many thanks

    1. It's best to place them under a shaded area or where there's no direct sunlight coz they tend to wilt under scorching heat. Unless you live in a cooler region, I guess it's okay if under direct sunlight.

  19. I used to use an old aquarium with a few inches of potting soil to start my cuttings. Once the cutting is planted in the soil. I watered them in and covered the top with plastic wrap. Ti's acted as a terrarium which self watered. Once the plants reaches almost to the top I would then transplant them into my flowerbeds.

    This year I am going to try using clear plastic storage containers (the kind for food) …I think it will work but not all that sure.

    Love plants that pay for themselves plus continue giving!

  20. […] right when grown but could vary quite a bit. If I had found just one coleus like it I could have easily propagated more though cuttings which probably would have been much faster but unfortunately I couldn’t find what I wanted so […]

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