Challenge accepted

While I love to grow flowers and share my successes, I am reminded that I learn a lot from the challenges I face in the garden.

Let’s be honest — just like any other gardener — I do have my epic fails.

When we share our challenges, it helps us make plans for the future and helps others avoid the same mistakes.

Those who know me know I love container gardening. Each year is a new, grand adventure. I have found certain flowers and herbs do better in my backyard. I have found that I love growing lots of herbs, but I don’t actually use them in cooking, and that’s OK. (Yes, dill, I’m talking about you.)

I also pick color schemes each year and run with them. This year’s exciting color combination focuses on blue and white since our daughter is getting married soon and blue is one of her colors.

Last year I planted numerous coleus plants. I wanted to keep them forever. So, I tried. I did extensive research and then did cuttings of the most beautiful stems.

I put them in mason jars of water waiting for the roots to form. I proceeded to start planting them in pots and left them in my garage. They don’t require much water over the winter while patiently waiting for spring.

This is where I get to throw my amazing husband under the bus. One cold snowy day my husband fired up the snow blower and proceeded to clean off the driveway leaving the garage door up the entire time. Needless to say, my coleus plants froze. They did not enjoy 15-degree temperatures.

I need to make a better plan to ensure my work is well rewarded. And, I went ahead and bought more to grow this year.

Coleus are easy to grow anywhere from shade to full sun. They can be started from seeds or cuttings. They are members of the mint family — Lamiaceae. You can tell by the square stems. They are native to the tropics of Asia and can grow in any warm environment but are immediately sensitive to cold.

They are grown for their foliage, not their flowers (which I pinch off). Plants grow 6 to 36 inches tall and nearly as wide. I have learned to put one tiny plant in a pot and watch it grow to amazing heights over the summer, making me feel like I did a great job gardening.

The soil must be well drained with a high organic matter. Incorporate a granular general-purpose fertilizer at the time of planting and fertilize monthly.

Watering depends on the environment. If you stick your finger in the soil and it’s dry, then water. Always make sure containers have drainage holes.

I’m going to try to save cuttings again this fall but this time they’re wintering in my basement. Try it with me. You can thank me later.

For more information go to: http://go.osu.edu/coleus.


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