coleus sprouting

v1rtFebruary 6, 2009

Not sure where to post this message. I indoor sowed coleus seeds last Jan 31. Today, I saw sprouts. I don't have those grow lights, etc. I'm not sure what to do to make them grow successfully.

They are on a window sill. I used those small mandarin cups covered with thin plastic wraps. Potting mix is Pro-mix from Menards.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



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I did this last year and had two problems. one was damping off--really bad. The other problem was that they never advanced past the seed leaf state. I guess it was too cold or something.

Not doing them this year. I planted some amarylis seeds inside instead.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 6:36PM
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oh, :( hopefully, it will work. Lucky I only sowed like 15 of them. I still have 35 left.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 7:30PM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

Save the rest until a week before the last frost date. Coleus need heat.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 7:34PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

How about just a compact fluorescent in a desk lamp? They do like heat, but the seed is so tiny you really do need to start them early. I have large coleus plants on my windowsill for cuttings now and my basement is cool. Anything can damp off; give them good drainage. Don't over water.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 12:42AM
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I'll look for some lighting device in the basement. Thanks for the idea. :)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 1:45AM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

Any seedling can "stretch" if it lacks adequate light. This means they grow long and leggy. Provide as much bright natural light as possible (i.e. usually a window facing south or west). Incandescent light doesn't do much for plants, they need the fluorescents and/or natural light.

If your coleus start to stretch, pinch them back. This will stimulate new growth at proximal nodes. Good luck with them.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 6:18AM
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Ok. I have a south window upstairs and I think it gets sunlight more than 6 hours. The one from my picture below only gets like 2 hours because it's being blocked by my neighbor's house. I'll bring it up after posting this msg.

Here are the pics.

Thanks Karen! :)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 10:39AM
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floodthelast(5 N. OH)

That is so cool. I just put some on the windowsill this week. I'll have to send you some pics if they make it.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 12:25PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Do you still have the plastic over them? I would gradually take it off for ventilation. You do know you will have to harden them off before planting outside and not to plant early outside. I once started coleus in Jan put them out in late April when it is warm here and a frost killed them May 6. I am not that patient so now I buy plants and take cuttings.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 12:47PM
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hi helenh,

Yes, I have not removed the plastic cover yet. Looks like they love it. Half an hour ago, I transfered them to a deeper box. The cotyledons were touching the plastic cover. :)

Here are pics taken after I moved them.

Can coleus be grown as an indoor plant with not much sunlight?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 5:40PM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

One thing I would suggest, rotate the cups 1/4 turn each day. It will make the stems stronger as they bend towards the light in a different direction each day. And you need to let that soil dry out between waterings after the first true leaves appear. That will help too.

I don't know if it can be grown indoors as a house plant.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 6:02PM
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triona(Zone 5a IL)

v1rtu0s1ty, I'm growing coleus successfully indoors under lights. You can get an inexpensive 24" fluourescent shop light from a hardware store. I don't have any windows bright enough to start seeds so I put a light rack in the basement shower. (Fortunately hubby does not mind my gardening, lol!)

Last year I killed all my coleus putting them out too early. Note to self, must wait until June! My usual planting rule is after May 15 but coleus are just too tender, one of the few things I don't try to winter sow.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 6:36PM
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PVick(6b NYC)

Yes, coleus can be grown indoors as a house plant. I always grew them indoors, before I discovered all the new hybrids and started growing them outside. Indoors, they like bright light, but not direct sun. They can handle indoor temps as low as 60°F, and relatively low humidity; they don't need steamy, moist conditions.

The smaller leaved and trailing types seem to do better inside than those glorious, huge, true bedding hybrids. From seed, I've had luck indoors with the 'Wizard' and 'Carefree' series, although I did manage to get some of the 'Exhibition' series to grow pretty well, until they got too woody.

'Exhibition Palisandra' - huge, huge leaves!

'Exhibition Limelight':


    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 6:53PM
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Coleus can be grown indoors as a houseplant, as pvick said. I overwinter all of my coleus every year in my basement under grow lights, and my temps stay 50 degrees or so. Seeds, however, need warmth. I would suggest removing the plastic since they have started sprouting. Until they get their first true set of leaves, keep the soil moist, not *wet*. Honestly, lights would be best for them right now, but if you don't have them, you don't have them :-)so keep them in the brightest window possible until they are at least 4 inches tall. Then normal *houseplant" lighting will be adequate. I would recommend misting at least once a day until the *true* set of leaves form.
I grow coleus from seed indoors every year, and this has always worked for me.
Hope this helps.

Oh, also, as mentioned above, turn the little pots 1/4 of a turn everyday.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 11:17PM
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I would really like to know what kind of camera you have to take those great close-up photos? Excellent. Also what program are you using (and what font) to caption the photos? Much thanks! Great looking babies! Congrats.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 12:01AM
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Thanks folks.

The location where they're at right now gets about 6 hours of sunlight. The first time I watered them was Jan 31 and I have not watered them yet. The plastic cover creates a lot of condensation inside. So looks like I don't need to water them. Once I see the true set of leaves, I will remove the plastic.

I will follow all your advice to me. :)

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 12:04AM
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It's a Powershot Canon SD550. I like my older one which is SD400. It's more sharper. When taking shots, I select the macro(flower) icon. Then I make sure that object is at least 4" away from the lens. I like to buy an SLR next time.

The fonts are just free fonts I download from the internet. :) I use Photoshop, very jurassic version, v5, hahaha. I should upgrade to CS4.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 12:10AM
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triona(Zone 5a IL)

That Photoshop CS4 will cost you a pretty penny. I wish Adobe would quit raking us over the coals on upgrade costs. :) You might try Photoshop Elements which is much cheaper and has most of the basic functions.

pvick, your Palisandra and Exhibition Limelight are beautiful! I'm doing Wizard Rose, Wizard Jade and Wizard Golden. For some reason the Jade leaves have a lot of pink on them. I got the seeds from Swallowtail and was expecting a two-tone green. v1rtu0s1ty, one thing I found is that my coleus need root space and fertilizer. They grew the first set of true leaves then seemed to halt until I transplanted them into a bigger pot and gave them some dilute houseplant fertilizer.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 7:21AM
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I've only successfully grown them as houseplants! LOL!

I do recommend you remove that plastic covering ASAP, otherwise you are risking death from damping-off fungi.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 10:34AM
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grows great as houseplant for low light areas, pinch it a little once you get them going . Any bright window is good enough. Have done cuttings and seeds indoor for years with no problem. Damp-off is actually problem with air flow so having any air circulation is a must if you growing seeds indoor. Most seeds will germinate much better with warm bottom- I use old electrical blanket and for small jobs heated floor of my bathroom.
Good luck and show us beautiful coleus your seedlings are going to be. Excellent shots!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 11:19AM
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katwright(z4 MN)

Last year I started coleus from seed for the first time. I grew some black dragon and some mixes. My MIL couldn't believe that I grew them from seed. They were all huge and beautiful. I had started them in February, so had to pinch them a few times to keep them in check until May. I have a large master bath with a very long counter. I installed two cheapie flourescent undercabinet lights from Walmart on the bottom of the cupboard above the counter. I turn the lights on when I go to bed and turn them off in the morning before work. I am able to start 5 trays of plants on that counter. I am hoping to only have three this year. Doing more winter sowing and found a greenhouse about an hour away that grows the two specific tomatoes that I have grown from seed for years. I didn't have to worry about heat for the coleus, they did fine sitting on the counter.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 2:55PM
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