There’s been such a rush around the house since the new year arrived, I’d forgotten about my overwintering house guests basking under the glow of two florescent plant lights in our upstairs bonus room. Luckily, my neglect hadn’t ruined my first attempt at overwintering coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides). Their soil was bone dry, but only a few leaves were lost in the process.
‘Twist and Twirl’ (pictured to the far left in the photo above) was the worst off, with several lower leaves curled in crispy death. This cultivar, offered by Proven Winners, is one I have a love-hate relationship with. Its multicolored foliage lives up to its name, offering the most beautifully tumultuous display in summer containers. At the same time, its unusual form occasionally makes me double-take, thinking I have a genetic mutant or diseased plant on my hands.
‘Religious Radish’ (pictured in the background of the photo above) reacts to underwatering by losing some of the vibrant red that edges its elongated maroon leaves. This cultivar was the most brilliant coleus in last summer’s garden, when given proper water. Unfortunately it was also the least drought tolerant.
The last coleus living indoors this winter is a trailing variety with small, burgundy, heart-shaped leaves edged in chartreuse. I received the cuttings from a generous gardener friend, so I’m not positive about the cultivar name, but I’m reasonably certain it’s ‘Trailing Dark Heart’. This fast growing variety was by far the easiest to root. I simply took several 12-18 cuttings and shoved them in a tall vase for a few weeks before I was ready to pot them in soil. Since the transplant, they’ve grown so vigorously I may soon consider taking a second round of cuttings.
Now that I’ve raised a couple of new year’s glasses (of water) and quenched their thirst, I expect they’ll all be back in top shape in a couple of days.