Basement too cold?

StephyB(5b/Ontario)February 24, 2005

I am trying to keep some cuttings from annuals in my basement over the winter (I'm pretty new at this). I have some coleus and impatiens under florescent gro-lights and they did very well for the first couple of months. Now the coleus is getting black stem rot and the impatiens are losing leaves.

I'm worried that my basement is too cold since I live in an old house. I've read in other postings about fans, heaters and heat mats and don't know which options will help me.

I've managed to take cuttings from the coleus and they're in a glass of water on my kitchen windowsill for now, but I don't have enough light in my windows to keep all the cuttings.

Any suggestions?


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john_z(Z 7b Ga.)

Hi! I think that the temperature (and light) is a problem during the winter months since Coleus and Impatiens are tropical species. As temperatures drop, there is less uptake of water and nutrients, and excess water in the potting media give rise to fungal infections at the roots, especially with a lack of air circulation when brought indoors.

I root cuttings of my favourite varieties at the end of summer here and keep them above 20 degrees C/ 68 F in the house under on growing shelves that have a special light spectra for plants. It is better to take the seeds of Impatiens and store them in an envelope in a warm and dry area in a kitchen cabinet. For Coleus, take cuttings and get them rooted at the end of summer in a potting mix under cover, and provide as much light as possible after they are rooted in the winter. In Canada, I would put rooted Coleus in an unobstructed south-facing window if you have one. But don't try to root any annual successfully once the cool weather arrives and light diminishes.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 7:57PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

Sounds more like too much water to me. Impatiens cuttings are renowned for rotting off in soil that doesn't drain well enough. I overwinter Impatiens in temperatures that rarely get above 70F and often go down to 50F at night. If you can keep to those temperatures then you can grow your Impatiens. Just no tto much water until they have really established good roots.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2005 at 5:50AM
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Thanks for the information. I have checked the temperature down there and with the lights on in the day it's 16C or about 61F. So maybe I need it warmer during the day. I don't have a vent down there from my furnance so should I use a space heater or a heat mat? I will also make sure they dry out between watering.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2005 at 7:52AM
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