The crime scene. A coleus in critical condition.

Yesterday Stella, a very large Great Dane (not picture to protect her identity), allegedly trampled one of my coleus plants while frolicking about my back yard.

When I stumbled upon this injured plant I let out a Darth Vader-esque, “NooooooooooOOOOOOO!!!”

The coleus in question is a beautiful fire-like pallet of oranges, deep reds, and purple that provide brilliant contrast to the abundance of green along the fence line. I feel I have just enough horticultural acumen to salvage it.

Requirements for propagation:

  • A plant that is not patented
  • The plant
  • A container with some potting soil
  • Sharp shears
  • Water
  • Rooting hormone (optional)

The basics.

The first thing we need is a viable part of the plant to work with. Below is what remained of the coleus. Don’t worry too much if the leaves and stem appear droopy. They will rebound once they are potted and placed properly.


Ideally, we want a length of plant that contains at least two nodes.

Leave the new growth top leaves intact for now.

  • Underneath that new growth, move down the stem to the section where two more leaves opposite one another are sticking out. That is the node, the part of the stem the leaves are attached to. Cut off those leaves close to the stem (node 1).
  • Go down to the next node and repeat (node 2).
  • Just below that 2nd node, make a 45 degree cut with clean, sharp shears.

A cutting of a cutting?

Now that we have a freshly cut stem, two severed nodes, and some new growth, an optional step is to cut roughly one-third off of the largest new growth. This reduces the amount water the stems need to transport and allows the plant to focus on developing new roots.


Rooting hormone in a plastic cup.

The (optional) rooting hormone is to increase the speed and success rate of new root production.

  • Pour a little rooting powder out of its bottle and into another cup to prevent contamination
  • Dip or roll the end of the stem (with the 45-degree cut and 2nd node) about an inch deep into the powder
  • Blow or gently knock off any excess powder
  • After making a hole in the soil with a finger or end of a pencil insert the stem into loose soil, we don’t want to feel resistance
  • Gently pack the surrounding soil to provide some support
  • New roots will sprout from the 45-degree cut and the 2nd node

Looking at this picture, some of the stems are longer than I had anticipated!

Keep the soil evenly moist with a fine mist spray bottle and put the cuttings shady place out of direct sunlight. In 2-4 weeks, we should feel a little resistance when we gently tug on the stems. From there we can gently place the cuttings in separate pots or wait for them to develop more mature roots. They should be able to tolerate a little more sunlight at this point and we may even start to see new growth sprouting from the 1st node.

Enjoy your new plants!

UPDATE (8/26/17): A little over a month and the coleus cuttings are doing great. At this point, they can be planted individually, in a cluster, or kept together in the pot for a bit longer.

New growth means good roots and ready for transplanting.

-Nurse David