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Plant Propagation Guide

It’s the age old question that comes about as soon as any plant matures. “Let it keep growing? Or is it time to chop and prop?” The most nerve-wracking and exciting bit of planting all at once, propagation is not as intimidating as it may sound to new plant parents. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be multiplying your garden in no time!


The most important thing to keep in mind when propagating, however, is that there is always room for failure! Not every cutting, division or tuber will make it when taken from the mother plant and set up on it’s own. This is okay! Even the most experienced of gardeners will lose a propped plant or two every once in a while. Go into your propagation experience knowing that some may simply not take. When cutting or dividing plants, make sure your mother plant is mature enough to handle a few pieces being taken from it, and take enough that should one or two fail, you’ll still have something to show for your propagation efforts!


Don’t be discouraged if something fails! We know it stings, but it happens to the best of us! All of that being said, here are some tips and tricks we like for some of our favorite houseplants! Remember to thoroughly clean all tools you use, to assure any cuttings or divisions are not cross contaminated, in the event any plant is sick!


Philodendron:


Philos propagate best by cuttings. For our friends new to plant parenthood, cuttings are exactly what they sound like! Select a stem you’d like to use to start a new plant, and snip it off the mother plant. This is your new cutting! Make sure it has at least one node below the lowest leaf, so there is somewhere for new growth to begin. We prefer to propagate philodendrons in water, so if you’d like to follow the CB Flora method, once you take a cutting, place that bottom node in a small jar of clean water. Then all that’s left to do is wait! It’ll be several weeks before the roots are established enough to transfer your new plant to soil, but you’ll see root growth much sooner! Propagating cuttings in water is such a great way to get a close up view of your new plants beginning to grow. We also recommend propagating philodendrons in sphagnum moss, if you do not want to propagate in water. However, this means you have to pay closer attention to your cuttings! If your moss dries out, the node may be ruined, and the cutting will fail.



Hoya:


Hoyas are great for propagating too! Roots will develop all along the stem, so these lovely little babies are good for propping directly into soil! Just like a philodendron, you’ll want to select a healthy stem to cut from the mother plant, with at least one node for new growth to emerge from. Once you’ve got a cutting, plant the node in soil, in a pot that’s not too large, and keep that soil MOIST. Be sure to use clean, fresh soil to ensure the cutting stays healthy. Prefer watching the magic happen? You can also propagate hoya in water or sphagnum moss! Check out these Wilbur Graves stem cutting in sphagnum moss. See those tiny new leaves forming? When using water, simply place the cutting in clean water, making sure at least one node is submerged.


Peperomia:




We have shared our love of peperomias before. We just can’t get enough of these adorable little plants, and they are so fun and easy to propagate! Peperomias can be propped by cuttings, like philos and hoyas, but they’ve got an even more fun method that works well with them too! Take a healthy leaf from your mother plant, cut it in half, and plant the cut side down in fresh, clean soil. Keep that soil consistently moist and wait several weeks. These leaves have everything needed to create brand new plant life! We prefer letting them get their start in water; it’s just so much fun to be able to watch new babies grow! If you prop in water, be sure to wait long enough for roots to establish themselves before planting in soil. See those tiny white roots on the bottom of this variegated peperomia Rana verde? There will be baby plants there soon!

We love these cute little cups for propagating almost anything! These string of turtles are working on rooting in some moss in this perfect mini greenhouse!


Alocasia:

Alocasia like to do things a little differently than the other plants we’ve discussed so far. These plants like to form their own little “babies” beneath the soil, mixed in with their roots. They grow these babies in bulb form, which make their way to the surface of the soil and emerge as a new plant. Once they emerge like this, you can remove the “baby” and pot it as you would any other plant, so long as the roots are sturdy enough! Some plant parents have success in removing the mother plant from its pot, brushing away the dirt from the roots, and searching out the bulbs to plant them elsewhere. This can work, but be careful! If the bulbs are not mature enough, they will not grow properly and will ultimately fail. As alocasia mature, the tuber components, which can make a new plant, eventually spread up the stem. This means mature alocasia can successfully be propagated by a stem cutting!


Tradescantia:

These plants are fantastic for practice propping, for new plant parents, and for teaching children who want to get involved with the indoor gardens! Kelly’s 3.5 year old loved rolling up her sleeves to help mom out, chopping and propping Kelly’s tradescantia albiflora tricolor a few weeks ago, and she was a natural! So many new plant babies are taking root from this little venture! Tradescantias propagate best by cuttings, so clip a stem from your plant, remove the lower leaves to avoid them rotting, and then place the now-bare stem in water. Then all that’s left to do is wait to see those new roots!


Strings of Things:



Buckle in, because there are many ways to propagate strings of things! Certain strings are not true strings of things, like the string of turtles, which is actually a peperomia! Make sure you know for sure what kind of plant you’re dealing with before you get to chopping. For true strings of things, like hearts, arrows, and spades, there are few different ways to propagate. We have had the most luck with the butterfly method and moss for our strings. This method involves clipping sections of vine from the plant, about a quarter of an inch of stem on either side of a pair of leaves. Have a shallow pot or other temporary container ready to go with a good layer of moist sphagnum moss, and place each “butterfly” cutting onto the moss, hearts up, and the stem and backs of the leaves resting on the moss. Once roots develop, you can plant them as you would any other string. Be careful when removing the moss from the fresh roots. Those roots are delicate!


You can also prop strings by stem cuttings, as we’ve talked about already, letting them take root in water. Another great method is coiling a vine up on top of some soil (or even in its own pot, with the original, for a fuller looking plant), and pinning it in place. Roots will develop from the nodes along the vine and grow into the soil. Some strings of things even form bulbs along their stems that can be carefully removed and planted to grow new plants. This is a tricky method that we have not found much success in yet, but don’t let that deter you from giving it a shot yourself! If you’re having trouble with harvesting the bulbs, like we have, we’ve had some luck with clipping the stem just above the bulb and planting it, stem, bulb and all, in some new soil. Try things out, and see what works for you and your strings of things!


Monstera:


Monsteras need a node! If you can find a node, you’ve got a candidate for chopping and propping! Find a node, clip just below it, and get your new cutting into some water, fresh soil, or moss! If you choose soil or moss, make sure to keep it moist. Monsteras are thirsty little babies! Don’t get it soaking, though. That’ll result in an unhappy cutting, or even cause it to fail completely. Keep your cuttings in a warm sunny spot and wait for roots to establish! Sometimes you’ll even see new growth before you see roots. This is okay! Just be patient, and let your new plant babies do their thing!


Begonia:

Begonias are another plant type that propagates well via cuttings. Be sure you’ve got at least one healthy node on your stem of choice and get to snipping! These plants are special, because their roots will form wherever you cut the stem, unlike many others, but the node is where new growth will emerge, so it’s important to still have one of those on your cutting.


Scindapsus/Pothos:

Another great choice for new plant parents or for teaching the little ones! We propagate these babies via cuttings, using water or sphagnum moss, and have always had great success with them. They’ve given us minimal issues with rotting or cutting failure. If you’re nervous to start out propagating, consider starting with one of these! They are hardy and forgiving while you figure out what works best for you!




Remember: All plants are different, and will all have different needs. What we know works for our plants may not work exactly for yours, and that’s okay! Take these tips and tricks we’ve shared and adapt them to your own gardens and indoor jungles as they work best for you, and let us know how things go! We’d love to hear your propagation methods too!

Best of luck, and happy planting folks!



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