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What’s Growing On: Coleus plants make great gifts

Published: May. 12, 2021 at 1:30 PM EDT|Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 3:03 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Whether you have the gift of a green thumb or not, coleus plants are easy to care for and come in many colors.

“This is a plant that’s going to keep on giving for a long time,” Dave Clark, a professor of plant breeding at the University of Florida said. He oversees the hundreds of coleus plants each year and helps breed a wide variety of colors and leaf shapes.

These plants need lots of sunlight and plenty of water especially in the summertime when the heat kicks in. However, even if a day of watering is missed, coleus plants are very forgiving and typically revive themselves with a little extra water. From there, coleus plants are easy to propagate. “It’s very easy to clone a coleus plant, you can just take a two or three-inch cutting and put it in water and it’ll root in ten to fourteen days,” Clark said.

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As temperatures cool down in the winter, potted coleus plants should be brought indoors if frost is expected to form overnight. Temperatures near freezing will kill these plants, as they originate from Indonesia- a very warm climate. This specific facility breeds coleus plants to survive the hot climate that Florida provides in the spring and summer.

“South of here in Citra, Florida, we have the Plant Science Research and Education Unit and that’s a place where we have sun trials and shade trials and grow the plants under tough Florida conditions. We select the best one and get the seeds off of those for next year’s crop,” Clark said.

Coleus plants from the University of Florida Plant Science Facility can be found in big stores, like Lowe’s and Home Depot, as well as local plant shops like Garden Gate Nursery.

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