Question about Coleus

KendraSchmidtJuly 14, 2012

I saw a few coleus plants at the store today along with coleus seeds. I'd like to grow these outdoors, but from seed. I'm in a Zone 8a climate. When should I sow the seeds? When is the best time to plant these seeds outdoors?

Also, I'm relatively new to gardening flowers and plants (non-food). Does this mean that the plant is an "annual" because it is grown from seed? Does this mean the plant won't come back the next year on its own and will have to be replanted? Please let me know.

Thanks ladies/gents.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

for this season.. probably last january ...

if i were you.. and keeping in mind .. my MI is not your z8 ..

i would suggest you buy a few plants for immediate gratification... and buy the pack of seeds and so them.. and experiment ... what do you have to lose .. a few bucks.. and some seed????

and then start some learning for winter seed starting ..

there is a winter sowing forum.. and those peeps will blow your mind ...

if you have any garden friends.. coleus.. will root in a glass of water inside a week ... so you can 'collect' some plants from anyone ....

ken

ps: and i presume someone will blow thru and tell you they are perennials in z8.. and it is a good time to grow seed.. lol ... and such is my advice these last few weeks.. lol ..

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 3:30PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Kendra, I'd like to know where, in the vast swath of zone 8b across the country, you reside.

Coleus are tender perennials, meaning that in most locations they are killed by a frost. They can be over-wintered inside.

Seed production has nothing to do with whether a plant is an annual, perennial, or anything else. Coleus can be propagated by seed very easily or by cuttings prepared and inserted into a potting soil. Some of the very fancy cultivars can only be propagated vegetatively, as a matter of fact.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 3:57PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Some of the very fancy cultivars can only be propagated vegetatively, as a matter of fact.

==>> which a novice should read to mean ... that those fancy ones you see.. are not going to come out of a pack of seeds ...

to simplify it real far.. they are stuck in water by the millions and cloned ... [not really] ...

ken

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 5:25PM
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denninmi(8a)

Unfortunately, most of of the seed-grown strains of coleus are not the most attractive, and forget getting anything very exotic in terms of leaf shape, those are all propagated by cuttings (or possibly tissue culture in this day and age?).

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 8:29AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Over decades of trying to grow things from seeds every year, Coleus is by far the most frustrating. I have not tried winter sowing, as Ken mentioned. And also, as mentioned, if you are successful, what you will have are the "cheap ones" they sell by the 6-pack, usually wizards. Not that there's anything wrong with those, I love all Coleus! It's so easy and cheap to buy that kind in a 6-pack (which you can then multiply into many more plants.)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 9:31AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Though ken is just trying to be silly, his comment, "they are stuck in water by the millions and cloned", is worth commenting on. Commercially, zero plants are propagated in water, lol. ZERO.

I think that there are scads of lovely seed propagated coleus. Most on the market are seed produced. Vegetative prop. of hybrids is the only method of reproducing those. As with most hybrids, plants will either not even produce viable seed, or won't reproduce true to the desired phenotype.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

The Coleus seeds they have at stores are always the same mixed, 2-3 different names. There are seeds for other Coleus, via mail order/specialty stores, but that's not likely what Kendra would have happened upon shopping recently. Good point, Rhizo, I was making an assumption from what I've seen on seed racks.

The ones that have sprouted for me always did so when it was starting to get really hot, or already hot, so this sounds like a good time to try them.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 4:50PM
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denisemb(9a N. Central FL)

FWIW, I stared Rainbow coleus from seed this year and was disappointed. All seedlings looked alike, a bland maroon/green edged variety.

Also planted "Chocolate Mint" seeds in April (as I couldn't find plants in my area) that appear true, but are very slow growing. Hopefully I'll get some cuttings to attempt overwintering, as my FL 9a freezes kill coleus.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 4:59PM
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denisemb(9a N. Central FL)

Trying out the photo upload. Rear is Rainbow coleus (from seed) in BloomMaster. Front two 6" planters with 3 mo. old "Chocolate Mint" coleus (from seed).

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 5:08PM
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eahamel(9a)

I'll bet coleus are cloned, though. They've been reproducing orchids and other plants that way for years. Not by taking cuttings and growing them, can you imagine how many you'd have to have to start with?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 6:17PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You'd be bowled over if you visited a commercial propagation operation....hundreds of thousands of cutting grown plants....practically as far as you can see. It's quite an amazing, streamlined process.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 10:48PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Here's a really cool video of African Violet propagation.

Here is a link that might be useful: African Violets

    Bookmark   July 17, 2012 at 7:41AM
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calliope(6)

Unfortunately, most of of the seed-grown strains of coleus are not the most attractive, and forget getting anything very exotic in terms of leaf shape, those are all propagated by cuttings (or possibly tissue culture in this day and age?).

Oh that just isn't the case. Before cutting grown coleus became popular, you could indeed find seed easily for all sorts of fancy leaf shapes and leaf patterns. I grew sabre-leaved and oak-leaved and some with frills. You just don't see it available anymore, nor do you see some of the more exotic seed lines in your typical garden center or box store.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 1:02AM
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david883(5/6)

My two cents... I tried growing them from seeds in MI here this year... nothing. I spent a little extra on buying the actual plants themselves but at least I have them. Truth be told... all came from Walmart except some orange ones I have in the center of my planter. I would try them from seeds again but I went and tried EVERYTHING I read this year and still got nothing.... except Ken's advise to sow in January. Maybe I'll give that a go. Or... for a few extra bucks... I'll get already grown, pretty ones and save myself the sowing.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 5:50AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

For those of you having difficulties germinating coleus seed.......are you sowing them ON THE SURFACE of a properly prepared medium? Coleus needs light in order to germinate.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 7:53AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Just my two cents worth. I sowed seeds for Rustic Red Coleus this year that I purchased from Hazzards Seed. (They have quite a selection of coleus seeds, most are NOT mixtures.) I thought they were among the easiest seeds I had ever sown. I actually sowed them as rhizo said and they germinated and grew on outside on my deck. I didn't even use a sweat box. Go figure. They are gorgeous in my shade bed.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:51PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I agree with Donna and buy my seed from the same source. Three years ago I bought 1000 seeds each of six varieties. I plant them in January and cut them back in June. The cuttings grow without effort by simply sticking into ordinary potting mix, no tenting or mist needed. By this simple step I double my production. I have now used the same seed purchase for three years with very good germination percentage, and still have some for next year. They are surely one of the easiest plants I grow from seed. Al

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 9:26AM
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eahamel(9a)

David, that's a really pretty pot! Good color combinations there. I know someone who grew them from seed, and he does a lot of landscaping in his yard, but doesn't grow much. He had a pack of the Wizard Mix and had no trouble with it. Rhizo is right, something that fine needs to be on the surface, not even a light dusting of soil on top. Same would be true for something like Nicotiana, too.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 9:28AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Surface sowing is not determined by the size of the seed, eahamel. Seed germination is genetically programmed, depending upon the species, to be triggered OR inhibited by light. Some varieties are neutral. It's up to us to know this little tidbit before we go to the trouble of trying to grow something from seed.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 2:54PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

More than a tidbit, if you ask me. Why can't they put that on the package?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 3:22PM
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