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by Andrew S.
(Ithaca, NY)

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My friend was given a few stems of this recently from a friend of hers. I cannot remember what she said it was called though.

She had it sitting in a damp paper towel for a while so there was a bit of root development before I planted it.

Any thoughts on what it is and how to care for it?

Drought Smart Plants reply:

Andrew, Coleus is one of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow in a bright window, or on your deck or balcony in a shady spot in the summer.

They are not frost tolerant at all, so what a lot of container gardeners do is take cuttings just as you describe so the plant will overwinter. Just make sure there are no hitchhikers in the form of aphids or whitefly before bringing it inside.

These plants are easy to grow. A hint – the square four sided stem is indicative of its relationship to the mint family. That usually means that they root from cuttings easily, and will take over the world if allowed.

The one thing about Coleus is that you must continually pinch them to keep them bushy. It’s not that attractive to see a straggly long stem with no leaves.

Don’t worry, it’s easy to do.

Simply pinch, literally, with finger and thumb, any new growth once it reaches an inch or so long.

Each node will push out more new grow, and so on.

Also, if you see the tall spire like blooms starting, these should be pinched off too, as they will drain the plant after which it will die off.

Good luck with your Coleus!