Make more of house­plants

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DTrim them back and take cut­tings now to give you lovely new plants for next year

ur­ing au­tumn and win­ter, space is of­ten at a pre­mium for large ten­der or in­door plants. Some plants can be cut back and you can use the cut­tings from quick grow­ers such as colour­ful-leaved solenos­te­mon or coleus to pro­vide fresh young plants for next year.

Lov­ing this year’s heat and sun­shine, coleus have grown very rapidly, and it has been dif­fi­cult to keep on top of pinch­ing out the grow­ing tips so plants re­main com­pact.

To take a tip cut­ting, use the top 12-15cm (5-6in) length of stem, re­mov­ing the low­est leaves un­til you only have about four small leaves left. Dip the cut end of the stem into hor­mone root­ing pow­der to aid root de­vel­op­ment and plant a third deep into a pot of damp house­plant com­post. Place the pot into a sealed clear bag in a bright place and after 10–14 days the cut­ting should start to pro­duce roots. Over the next few days grad­u­ally open the bag and let the plant ac­cli­ma­tise to room con­di­tions. Coleus need a min­i­mum tem­per­a­ture of 12-15C (54-59F) and as much light as pos­si­ble through win­ter.

Fea­ture be­go­nias

Ma­ture-stemmed be­go­nias can be cut back if you haven’t much space in­doors but equally they can make a colour­ful fo­cal point if left to grow tall. Colour­ful­leaved va­ri­eties, such as be­go­nia ‘Sil­ver Spirit’, with large, sil­ver and pink fo­liage, or ‘Lit­tle Brother Mont­gomery’, with its maple-shaped leaves, cre­ate im­pres­sive spec­i­mens. B. mac­u­lata ‘Wightii’ has elon­gated, dark green fo­liage cov­ered with sil­ver spots and a ma­ture plant can grow to 1.5m (5ft) tall.

Be­go­nia ‘Sil­ver Spirit’

Coleus ‘Roy Ped­ley’

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