Earlier this fall, on a whim, I bought a coleus plant. It was out there with the mums and whatnot. I thought the color of the leaves would go well with the rug in my office. (That rug ties the room together.)

Alas, poor Coleus!

The tag that came with it said, "shade to part sun". So I put it on the dresser away from the direct sunlight of the windows.

All went well for a week. Then it started losing leaves.

I looked up, "coleus losing leaves". Google said "coleus is a very easy-to-care-for plant". It went on: losing leaves is usually because it's not getting enough light. It said that it coleus in pots should be close to a window where it can get sun for part of the day.

So I put it in a west-facing window, where it could get a couple hours of sun in the afternoon.

But it kept on losing leaves. Then I noticed that the soil was getting pretty dry. So I watered it.

The next day it was starting to wilt. A few of the stems had slumped over, and the leaves were droopy.

I googled, "coleus wilting". This time google said that "coleus is a very easy-to-care-for plant". Then it said they need to be kept "moderately moist". "Let it dry out and give it a little water every couple days."

So I did. I let it dry out a bit, and gave it a little water every couple days.

But it kept drooping and losing leaves.

I should pause here to mention that this is more trouble than I've ever taken with a houseplant. My habit with houseplants is to just put them on a shelf or windowsill and ignore them, coming back a couple months later when they've died and completely dried up to husks to throw them away.

So I googled, "coleus wilting losing leaves". Again google told me what an easy plant coleus is to take care of. Then google said to keep it in full sunlight and make sure to give it a bit of liquid plant fertelizer every couple weeks.

It had been more than a month since I got this plant and I'd never used fertelizer at all. So I moved it into a south-facing window where it could have what little sun we get in Potsdam from October through April. And I put just a touch of liquid plant fertelizer in the next watering.

The next day it was even more wilted. I figured it just needed time. I waited another day. Then another. It kept wilting more and more, until everything was drooped over and some of it was clearly rotting right on the stem.

Brooke suggested I take some trimmings and see if I could get anything to root in a glass of water. So that's what I did. I got a couple stems with leaves that seemed not to have rot on them and they're in a glass now, back on the dresser in the corner where I started out. The rest of the plant, just stubs, is still in the south window where I'm going to ignore it for a while and maybe throw it away in a couple months after it dries out to a husk.

Sons of Coleus

If the stems take root, that will be proof that life goes on. But the death of Coleus, "a very easy-to-care-for plant", proves, if anything, that if you take your medical advice from Google, you will surely die.