METHODS & MEDIUMS

WHERE TO CUT AND STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS

Late winter is a wonderful time to prepare for the growing season ahead.

Let’s get a jump on spring by showing you how to propagate your plants.

Here’s how to propagate and separate your plant cuttings a few different methods and mediums, as well as share some tips and tricks to help ensure success.

Glossary

NODES are those critical areas from which leaves, branches, and aerial roots grow out from the stem, while the INTERNODE are those intervals between the nodes.

ARIAL ROOTS are a survival strategy for the plant to help it spread. The plant can vine along without having to transport water as far if the roots happen to find a suitable foothold, and if a portion of the plant were broken off it could easily root and survive as a new plant.

INTERNODE  The space between two nodes. You will need to locate this area when making a cut for the purposes of propagation and pruning to encourage bushier growth. When pruning and propagating look for an internode a few down from the growth tip. The length ranges depending on the plant but it tends to be enough that you should have about 5 or 6 nodes down and remove the bottom leaves as this will be the point from which roots will grow.

PETIOLE is the stem connecting leaf to main stem

MOTHER PLANT is the plant from which you are taking cuttings

PUP is a baby plant that grows as an offshoot from mother plant’s rhizome

RHIZOME A horizontal underground stem which puts out pups and roots.

CORM Bulb like structure covered in a papery layer. This is one way that alocasia reproduce.

AIR ROOT Root that grows into the air from the node. They often appear on epiphites and members of the aroid family (including monstera, pothos, philodendron, syngonium, scindapsis and aglaonema) but other plants can produce them too in high humidity.

As our houseplants approach the end of winter dormancy  and move into spring and active growth, it’s a good time of year to think about a repot as well as time to assess how your plants have fared over the winter. One benefit of taking cuttings from plants for propagation is that it serves the double purpose of pruning which encourages more branching growth lower down the stem. This can help make your mother plant grow more lush and full. In some cases if your mother plant has been having persistent issues, it may be best to grow a new plant from cuttings; new vigorous stock can be produced from stem cuttings & pups compared to the older stock of the established “mother plant”. When choosing what part of the plant to cut for propagation it is best to choose healthy areas of growth. It can be used as a last ditch effort to save a plant as well.

Another benefit of vegetative reproduction is that it can be easier than growing plants from seed.

Water Propagation

Set up time 10 minutes

Supplies 

  • Sharp Shears

  • Alcohol

  • Rooting Hormone

  • Dish

  • Distilled or Tap Water

  • Glass Containers

  • Labels

  • Sharpie

  • Jar or Container

  • Distilled or filtered water best but tap water totally OK

  • Hormex or Superthrive

Some plants that are easily propagated using this method are:

  • Pothos

  • Scindapsis

  • Begonia

  • Fiddle Leaf Fig

  • Pilea

  • Hoya

  • Monstera

Steps

  • Locate node & internode, cut in internode area

  • Allow to callous for best results, overnight (most plants want to heal the cut area to prevent rot)

  • Place in water

  • Change water every few days

  • Wait 3-4 weeks to see roots

  • Plant in fresh potting soil

Remove the plant when the roots become established (a few centimeters long depending on the size of your plant). Use your best judgment but no need for a mass of roots, as these roots are adapted for living in water not soil and there will be a period of adaptation once planted. If you wish to grow in semihydroponics you can transition your water prop to a leca setup. LECA is an acronym that stands for lightweight expanded clay aggregate. Supplementing your water with Superthrive or Hormex (vitamin not fertilizer) when transitioning to soil is helpful.

You can be utilitarian about your propagation or you can use cuttings as decor in plant styling your space. Monstera rooting in a large glass vase looks modern and elegant.

Some plants are more likely to rot in water propagation so another way to propagate is using prop boxes.

Sphagnum Propogation Box

Plants that enjoy higher humidity

Set up time 15 minutes

Supplies 

Plastic or glass closed container or vented container like a lettuce box

  • Plastic or Glass Closed Container or vented (can be recycled lettuce box)

  • Sphagnum

  • Water & Mister

  • Root hormone powder (not necessary but you can use it)

Some plants that are easily propagated using this method:

  • Aroids

  • Begonias

  • Peperomia

  • Dischidia

  • Monstera

  • Rabbit’s foot fern

Steps

  • Moisten Sphagnum

  • Layer Sphagnum (3/4 -1”)

  • Place cuttings on top of sphagnum

  • Close lid

  • Place in a warm bright location and mist occasionally to prevent drying out

    You want air circulation, so open the prop box every few days. You also don’t want them too dry, or too wet. However too much moisture can cause your cuttings to rot. If you notice rot remove the effected cutting from your Prop Box. If you notice mold you can treat it with neem oil.

Total setup time 15 minutes

Perlite Propagation Box

Plants that like lower humidity

Set up time 15 minutes

Supplies

  • Plastic or glass container

  • Perlite

  • Container to wash Perlite

  • Powder rotting hormone

Plants that do well in Perlite propagation box:

  • Hoya

  • Succulents

  • Dischidia

Steps

  • Wash Perlite

  • Layer Perlite over bottom of container 3/4 -1”

  • Place cuttings in Perlite

  • Keep in a warm, bright location. and open periodically to check moisture levels and allow air flow.

Ways to increase success

Allow cutting to callous before planting or propagating. The cut you made will expose the inner flesh of your plant. You want the wound to dry before propagation. Succulents and cacti usually take about 4 days. Most other plants will callous over night. As a hobbyist or growing for fun, if you are o with losing a few cuttings this is not necessary. If propagating something rare or if you have had issues with losing cuttings in the past this can help.

Change the water every few days if propagating with water. Distilled or rainwater is best especially for epiphytes and carnivores. Many say this is to reoxygenate the water, however gas exchange happens naturally as those who have kept goldfish without an airstone can attest. You can add an airstone, commonly used for aquariums to create a bubbler setup. More oxygen helps the roots grow faster and take on water easier.

Superthrive or Hormex may be added to water prop to supplement root growth but not required. Mixing powdered hormone with water dilutes it past the point of working depsite many online advocating this.

Placement of your cuttings as they propagate is a bit of a Goldilocks zone. Warm, bright location but not in direct sin as that can make cuttings too hot (prop boxes). Water props can be on a windowsill but that can increase algae growth. Not too harmful, just be sure and change water frequently.

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