Coleus dying, please help!!!

gonzyroSeptember 29, 2006

Hello, everybody!! I´m in an emergency. I have a Coleus that has ruffled leaves with yellowish border and some red (I think its called fiery something, or something like that). A few days ago, I saw one of the stalks losing leaves and kind of drooping and I watered it, thinking that I may have let too much time between waterings, although the whole plant look fine, except this stalk. The next day, the stalk was black and dead. I cut it out and started checking closely to the rest of the plant, but I didn´t see any significative difference in the two following days. Today when I came from work I almost fainted, now out of the four stalks remaining, 2 are drooping and the plant as a whole looks not so good anymore. What can I do? I changed the soil when I got the plant (a few months ago), but I don´t know if there could be something there. I tried planting another cutting of Coleus I got from a friend (white center) and it died, also starting to get black from the part that is stuck in the soil. I don´t over water, I only water twice a week if it´s not too humid or cold (which is not yet here in Philly). I´m worried there is something in the environment, and I´m fearing for the rest of my plants. What can you tell me about this?? can somebody help? Are Coleus supposed to die? are they annuals or perennials? Will I lose my Coleus??

Please, please, help!!

Thank you


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Is it inside or outside? Might be overwatering or too cold a spot. In any case RELAX. They are annuals but can be kept a long time. Mine usually start getting a bit stringy in winter so I take some cuttings are start some new ones.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 8:01AM
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Hey, Tom! My Coleus is inside, and I´m sure it´s not overwatered. Today the main stalk is black, and there is only two secondary stalks that are not black. I´m definitively cutting them and trying to rescue them. I´m so sad. It´s next to all my other plants (spider, other coleus, peace lily, pothos, bromeliads, croton) and with the exception of the white coleus, this is the only one that is dying. I guess some coleus are more sensitive than others?
Thanks anyway!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 9:58AM
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It sounds like overwatering to me- sometimes the top of the soil feels dry but the area down by the roots is still wet. I always stick my fingers into the soil as deep as I can and if I feel any moisture, I wait a day or so and then check again. More plants die from over than under watering.

And it is the end of the season here, I am right on the other side of the river from you and my outside plants are on their last legs - or stems I should say. Even if your coleus made it a bit longer, it is going to either die eventually or just start looking bad - they are the kind of plant that you just replace with a nice young fresh one every now and then. (Kind of the same way I deal with men)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 11:02AM
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canttype(0b (Cold North))

Ines, that is too funny:-)

Sounds like overwatering to me too! The best thing to do with them is to take cuttings and restart the plant! Once they start to rot, she's a gonner.

Take some cuttings if you can.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 11:35AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hey Ines,

You slid that little comment right by, but it's pretty funny!


Sorry abt yr. Coleus, I'd cut all that black stuff ASAP. Also move this ailing plant away from all others in case it gets buggy in its vulnerable state. I too would try to take tip cuttings & start them over in water. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 12:00PM
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thank you all! I´m so sorry and ashamed to say that I did kill my coleus by overwatering. You were right....I didn´t stick my finger to test the soil (usually I´m able to tell if it´s dry or not) but after thinking about it, I did and it IS wet down there. I cut the two stems (this is a better word than stalk, right?) dip them in rooting powder and will hope to see them root. the end of the story coleus should die? can´t we have them for years and years inside the house?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 2:08PM
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canttype(0b (Cold North))

You can grow them for years under the right conditions but if things aren't perfect, they get leggy and messy looking. Better to start fresh with cuttings from Mom every couple years or so. Starting new ones too, make Mom nice and full.... maybe she'll continue on for longer.

I do this with my Pilea (Aluminimum plant)I have a 1, 2 and 3 year old plant. The 3 year old plant is not looking good so it's her last year. I'll take more cuttings off her before she meets her end. This way I always have 3 gernerations growing of the same plant. It's easier for me to do this than to get bigger windows;-)


Keep pinching off new growth, every month or so, to keep the plant full!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 2:45PM
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grammahony(ECentral NEz5)

Is it better to root them in water, or in soil, using rooting powder?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 5:45PM
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Either way is o.k., no rooting powder needed, they root very easily.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 5:51PM
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joy4me(z6 NY)

Hey gonzyro;

You didn't mention the size of the pot. Sometimes , if the pot is too big for the plant, the water stays in the soil for a longer time and gets watered, even when it's not needed. Not sure if this is why it was over watered or not. Remember also, coleus has a succulent like stem and it doesn't take all that much to over water.

Good Luck with your cuttings!!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2006 at 8:45PM
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thank you all...yes, the pot is a little too big for the plant, but I saw it growing so well that I thought it would take no time for it to overgrow it...and you see now...
I´ll learn from my mistakes, though!!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 12:18PM
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Gramma, I find rooting in water best..Just stick a 4-6" stem in a small container filled w/water, set in semi bright but no direct sun area and voila roots within 2 wks. I allow roots to grow 1-2", then place rooted cutting in a small pot, using all purpose and sand or Perlite. Toni

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 9:59PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Though some people like to root in water (to watch the process, I guess), it's better for the plant to root the cuttings in a good coarse potting medium. Why put those cuttings through a root generation process TWICE? LOL. Coleus root very readily in a good potting soil or straight perlite.

You should know, however, if your plant has become infected with a vascular disease of some kind, then it might not survive. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 3:49PM
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My son brought a green coleus which we watered and it died. that one was overwatered. I just purchased a six pack and put them in potting soil, little bit of water and they are all turning brown and dying. I have over 200plants I started from seed including 93 coleus which are doing fine, I don't know what is up with the rest I am purchasing?


    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 3:20PM
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